A walk in the park! Chalk It Up 2019

I’m late in attending this annual activity that started in 1991, but I made it to Chalk It Up this year. Artists claim their squares on the sidewalk that surround Fremont Park in Sacramento and create wonderful pictures.

The festival is a three-day affair on a weekend. Friday is the day the artists begin and they work through the weekend, finishing their creations on or before Sunday. Some artists had sponsors and they showed their names on the square. I’m not sure how much it cost to paint a square.

This is from their website: Chalk It Up promotes and supports Youth Arts by offering small grants to K-12 classrooms, and youth arts projects throughout the Sacramento region. We do this in large part with our annual Chalk It Up! Festival which encourages artistic expression of all kinds through a three day celebration of chalk art, live music, and regional food and craft vendors.

This year it was on Labor Day weekend (It may always be on this particular weekend!) and we chose to attend on Sunday. I was amazed at how many people were out on that last day, and how they calmly walked along the perimeter of the park. We were not allowed on the sidewalks. Some squares were finished but others were being worked on.

Once we walked around the park, we walked the sidewalks that ran through the park where there were food and craft vendors and a band. Different bands entertained throughout the weekend.

So, walk along with me! I did my photography thing while taking and processing these images. I cropped in when I wanted to show the picture and artists. While my watermark in on these as the photographer, I did not create these wonderful art pieces.

Practice makes perfect: McKinley Park and Green Acres Nursery

Flowers, flowers and more flowers! I’ve been shooting a lot of them lately, trying out a lens. I like being able to do close ups without a macro. You might be shooting a landscape, see a nice flower, want to shoot it, but didn’t bring your macro lens. So I’ve been practicing with a lens I might keep. It’s an 18 – 200mm Nikon lens.

Being a person who has difficulty making up her mind, I’ve practiced and practiced with it. I’ve pretty much made up my mind to keep it, but….

Here are the captures at the rose garden in McKinley park in Sacramento.

Some other pictures taken at McKinley park that night.

Moving ahead about a week, here are the images captured at Green Acres Nursery in Sacramento. They encourage photographers to visit and take pictures!

So should I keep it?

Happy Birthday to me! WPA Rock Garden, Sacramento

I remember my Mom was excited to reach her 65th birthday because she thought she’d not make it. I don’t know why, but when that day came, I made her a nice party. She lived to make it to her 87th birthday. So here I am doing this post on my 76th birthday.

It’s fitting that this is on the WPA Rock Garden, in Sacramento, because I do love shooting macro. And, I’m happy that I can still bend down and get up to take a picture of a tiny flower or bug. However, age does have its restrictions like no more hiking up mountains, etc. Carrying heavy equipment is difficult too. I often say that I started photography 20 years too late!

I got my first camera, Nikon d3100, in June of 2012, didn’t know what ISO was, didn’t understand the exposure triangle and shot on auto and JPEG for a while. This journey has been fantastic. I’ve learned a great deal and my photography has progressed.

I recently looked through the photo book I made about our cross-country trip in 2013. After looking at the photos, I told Richard we needed to go again because I can take better pictures now! He refused!! However, they are good enough to jog a memory.

So here I am, 76 and loving it. My chosen hobby fills my soul and writing for my community’s monthly newsletter keeps me in touch with my original passion.

Enjoy the macros and close up images from the Rock Garden.

Head stones and flowers: Sacramento Historic City Cemetery

There are some areas worth going back again and again. The Sacramento Historic City Cemetery, in Sacramento, is one of those sites. I like to visit to read the old head stones and take close up/macros of the flowers.

In the 1800s people, especially children, were buried with their age in years, months and days. Monuments included large full-sized sculptures. I think the most poignant were two tiny grave stones reading “Baby” and “Our Baby.” No names or year; just those words. I’m thinking they were stillborns.

Our visit was on a day when the volunteer gardners were working on the flowers and plants. They are truly dedicated to keeping this cemetery beautiful and extraordinary.

This visit, since it was too breezy for true macro, I tried to concentrate on how the flowers adorned the head stones. I did get some close ups though.

Pre-competition jitters & a cold: Emigh’s Hardware, Sacramento

It’s 4:50 a.m. and way too early to be up, but I can’t go back to sleep. Today I’m taking my photos down to Columbia in Tuolumne County for the competition. Since I blogged about two of my images making the finals, a lot has happened, and the person responsible is my photo buddy Lucille.

I was talking about my 8 x 12 prints and that I wasn’t thrilled with them after getting them home and seeing the difference in color on my monitor. I’m also thinking she wasn’t happy with the idea of me taking small prints to the competition. She invited me to her home and together we worked on producing larger prints.

When I left, a whole new world opened for me. I couldn’t believe how wonderful the pictures looked larger. I thought I couldn’t resize them and not lose any of the image. The whole new world is that of do I want to start investing in printing and selling my pictures. I thought about it and decided to wait to see what happens in Columbia. I’m not sure, even if I do well, I want to walk through that door. Do I really want all that pressure at my age? Do I want to turn this photography passion into a small business? I have lots of questions and, right now, no answers.

And, now for the cold. I’m not talking about the weather even though it has been cold and raining for weeks. I’m talking about the sneezing and coughing kind. I’ve been tired for a few days, thinking it was just jitters and being anxious. I’m anxious especially since streets in Tuolumne were flooded a couple of days ago, and I don’t drive a boat!

But, last night at a Toastmaster contest, I realized I had a cold. Just my luck! I fully intend to take my photos down. However, whether I say for the weekend events will depend on my friends Sandy and Ken accepting me with a cold. I’m due to stay with them in Tuolumne City.

Right now my mind is in a quandry and my body is working hard to get me through the weekend. Since, this is a blog about pictures, here’s a few from another rainy day outing at Emigh’s Hardware in Sacramento. When I shoot in a crowded store, I try to isolate my subject and shoot mostly close up.

Anxiety: Finalist in the INFOCUS competition

I was on overwhelm. I had bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D3100 in late 2012. Digital photography was slightly out of my technical expertise. Like what was ISO? Nikon wrote a pretty good manual, but assumed that the reader understood the terminology.

So, I looked for help, and I went to visit my friend Sandy, in Sonora, who’d been shooting for years. We had a great couple of days. Mostly, she showed me how to relax with the camera and gave me composition tips.

Since then, my expertise level has increased, mostly because of doing the 365 (taking a picture each day of the year) and joining the Sierra Camera Club in Sacramento which offers juried competitions twice a month. I’m not there to win; I’m there to learn. But, I always wondered if I should enter into a more broad type of competition.

I watched Sandy winning or placing at small county fair compeitions and asked her to let me know about one when it came along. The California State Fair, right here in Sacramento, seemed daunting to me. Could I really compete with the wonderful photographers in this region?

Sandy did let me know of the INFOCUS Photography Competition & Exhibition in Columbia, California. I knew if I didn’t enter this one, I would never enter one. I submitted five photos and two made it into the finals. So why am I anxiety ridden? It’s the printing, matting and framing that has me in a tizzy. The wonderful owner at Image Pros Photo, in Orangevale, helped me understand that I couldn’t make the images larger. I would lose some of the picture. Since these were macro and closeup photos, I kept them small. She also worked with me on the lighting in the picture.

So, here I am, ready to frame and bring the pictures down to Columbia for judging and exhibition on March 9. Still on overwhelm!

Here are my entries that made it into the finals. Wish me luck!

Discovery: Christmas at the Capitol Building, Sacramento

I have discovered Color Efex Pro, and I love it. I love it just as much as I do Silver Efex Pro which I use all the time when editing for black and white. I don’t edit my photos that much because I still have not gotten into Photoshop or other programs. So, these presets are a great way for me to give my images a fresh look and a start at creativity. I do work on them after I apply the preset.

I’ve been using Color Efex on my outdoor landscapes. You’ll see some of it when I start posting my Kauai pictures (I still have the last day to edit.). I can see the opportunity. I can compose the image. I can do the basic editing. But, when it comes to giving the image that creative touch, I’m unable to do it on my own. I can’t see the final image in my mind, let alone know how to get it there! In comes the preset or profile. They give me ideas to jump off on. Then, away I go. Maybe with practice, I can do it on my own in Photoshop with layers, filters and more.

Every year, I promise myself that I’ll get into Photoshop, but it never happens. Life takes up the time I’ve set aside. I remember when I ran my home-based business, and I actually blocked off office time. I’ll have to do that for studying processing. It’s not only Photoshop, I’ve got other programs that I haven’t learned.

In the meantime, I’m so happy with the Nik collection. Take a look at a recent outing to the Capitol Building in Sacramento and the beautiful tree on the front lawn.

I didn’t do that well Tuesday night at the Sierra Camera Club, in Sacramento, competition, but then I expected I wouldn’t. Sometimes pictures look great on the monitor, but not so great when they are printed. That was my predicament.

When I looked at the prints, I was dismayed. I decided to enter them anyway. After all I’m there to learn, and I did. The scores range from 8 to 12. I got two 10s and two 11s. I’ll confess that the judge didn’t give a score under 10! Print is just one of several categories, and for me, the most difficult. I’m not the only one printing out 8 x 12 images, but we are in the minority. However, I don’t think I’m ready to invest the money in larger prints.

In the digital categories, I have been awarded 12s, but never made it to the golden “13.” But, I’m happy. I joined this group to learn, and I have. I’ve also learned how to look at images. It’s amazing what details the judges see that I haven’t trained my eye to look for.

Toastmasters has trained me not to take critiquing as an assualt on my abilities. So, I understand that judging is subjective. There have been a few times when I dissagreed with the judge; but, after a few weeks, I saw that the judge was so right! Sometimes we get attached to our product and what we see in it that we don’t view it with a critical eye.

I thank the fantastic members of the Club. They are most eager to help, and just seeing their work gives me something to shoot for. Most of all, I feel great when my images are competitive with theirs.

If you are a new photographer, I urge you to join this type of club. There’s always something new to learn. You’ll find some of my entries below.

 

 

Now a yearly trek: Lotus blossoms

They are so beautiful, but only bloom once a year. But, that’s also what makes the Lotus flowers so special. The flowers in this post are from the Vedanta Society of Sacramento in Fair Oaks (Where last year’s images were shot.) and my chiropractor’s farm in Auburn. Who would have thought that a small Lotus pond would be on a farm!

At the Vedanta Society, the mature Lotus were more inside the pond and the buds surrounded them on the outside. That made shooting them a little tricky, but with the lens extended all the way out to 140 mm and creative cropping, I managed.

At the farm, it was just the opposite.  The featured image is a black and white from the farm. No matter, they are beautiful no matter where they are. And, pictures are a way of enjoying them all year round.

Blog neglect: Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area, Davis California

It takes a lot of time and effort to get a house ready to sell. If you’ve ever sold a home you know what I mean. We had pictures taken today and have a few days before the listing goes live, giving me the time to write this blog and go on a photo outing tomorrow.

Today’s post is on the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area–we locals call it the Yolo Bypass. This close-to-home wildlife area that covers 25 square miles and is home to nearly 200 species of birds. I’ve never seen 200 birds, but it’s close to home and usually we can spot a few species. Unlike other wildlife areas, we are allowed to get out of our cars to photograph the wildlife.

However, the last couple of times I’ve been there, the wind was blowing so hard that even the birds were having trouble. This recent outing was a challenge for me to hold a heavy camera and lens while bracing myself in the wind.

Still, it was fun and I’m looking forward to the break in the house selling effort to attend my Tuesday group’s outing to the Historic Old Sacramento City Cemetery. Marlene is spicing it up with a scavenger hunt.

We’re not moving far, just downsizing. When you’re in your mid 70s, it’s best to think ahead and buy a home without stairs, etc.!