Weathering the storm: Quixote Winery

With only a few days of sunshine peaking through, we are still wet here in California. In fact, they’ve called the drought over everywhere in the State. Right now there’s a break and the sun is shining, but I don’t expect for too long.

That’s the weather update, now for my personal photo journey. I did get my framed images down to the In Focus Photography Competition; however, they didn’t place. And, when I last communicated with the contest official, she said they hadn’t sold yet. She did say that when a group of school children came through, one boy fell in love with the mantis picture. He even drew a picture of it. Too bad his parents weren’t along to buy it for him!

It was an experience that I value. Those prints will be seen again at the Sierra Camera Club print competition. And, we’re thinking of buying a printer so we can print out our own images. Richard, Bright Star Observatory, is taking some great deep space images now, and they should be seen. I’m still not sure whether I’ll start competing elsewhere. Ahead is the State Fair competition which should be fun and educational. Maybe I’ll check other County calendars too. Who knows!

Right now I’m still battling a cold that my doctor says lasts for 4 to six weeks. I’m doing much better, but still have to watch my exercise level. Too much activity and I’m tired the next day. I did get in one day of shooting in the Napa Valley to the Quixote Winery and the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art. It was the first sunny day in a long time and I needed to get out with my camera. I did pay for my adventure for 2 days afterward!

Here are some images taken on the way to the winery and at the winery. We’ll talk about the museum in my next post. I think I have to find my copy of “Here Comes The Sun” by Richie Havens and play it continually! You think that would work?

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!

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.

 

 

Moving forward: Shasta Dam, Shasta County

I am excited! I just joined another photography group and signed up for one of their workshops. The group is Viewpoint Photographic and Art Center in Sacramento. Viewpoint is a gallery, store and educational center, catering to the photography community.

I went there a few years ago and was so overwhelmed–never went back. But, since joining the Sierra Camera Club (SCC), my confidence level has increased. Many of the members also belong to Viewpoint. I’ve learned so much in the two months I’ve belonged to SCC; can I learn even more at Viewpoint? Viewpoint also allows members to show their work and receive feedback.

In addition, Viewpoint gives workshops. I’m finally reaching the realization that I need more education than free online tutorials can give me. I know all that stuff. Now is the time for me to expand and leap forward. You’ll have to wait for my report on my first workshop which is on July 23rd. This is a big step for me; and, yes, I’m excited!

The images in this post are of Shasta Dam, the second tallest in the United States after Hoover Dam in Nevada. Construction began in 1937 and it was completed in 1945. Jill and I visited the Dam before attending the District 39 Toastmaster Conference in Anderson, California.

Our tour guide was wonderful and put up with our taking a lot of pictures during the tour. Fortunately, we were a tour of two! Take a look at what we saw.

 

First print competition and lessons

It’s not easy putting your work out there and have it judged. But for me, it was great. I didn’t do as well as I did last time at the Sierra Camera Club in Sacramento, but this was for the print division and a different judge. I entered into the Monochrome and Color categories. We are allowed two images per category. The other category is artistic–I’m not ready for that!

Here’s how my images were judged on a sliding scale of 8 – 12. I’ll give you a hint: 3 were 10’s and one was 11. I’m not upset, but I’m excited. I learned terminology I’d never heard. The judge not only graded, he explained why and gave ways to correct the problem he saw. He was teaching. He was surprised and said at one point that he hadn’t  seen any eights or nines!

Here’s one that got me a 10.

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He thought the figure was too dark and got lost. He suggested I work with the dark and light to add more depth, and that the scale was not that impressive. Well, I can disagree with the scale not being impressive. I guess you had to be there.

Here’s the one that got me an 11:

people (14)Here’s the one that I got an 11 on: Well, it’s not exactly the one. I couldn’t find the one I had printed. I cropped off my copyright for the competition image and he said he would have liked to see his whole foot. He also said that the guy was centered–another distraction, and I agree. He suggested that I could have shot the picture from the other side and then the guy wouldn’t have been centered. Who knows what it would have looked like. I did learn not to put a copyright on an image that I might submit, but make a virtual copy. Also, take a candid, which this was, then ask if I could take his picture. Then I could have taken several shots and moved around. However, he did say that the tonal values were right on. That got me the 11.

I’m loving this camera club and learning a great deal. I took 3 1/2 pages of notes at this meeting, and I’m looking forward to once again putting my work out there and have it judged.

PS: The top image rated a 10. I submitted it without the copyright.

 

Allergy? Cold? More!: Ironstone Vineyards, part 2

Allergy: Yesterday Laura and I went to visit the Jepsen Prairie Preserve (You’ll see it soon.) to see their vernal pools. As soon as I stepped onto the area around the pools. I started sneezing and couldn’t stop! Did I have tissues with me? No. It wouldn’t have mattered because I could not have brought enough. I had to use my shirt I use as a light jacket. Oh my.

Cold: When I got home, the sneezes kept coming. I finally realized it must be a cold. I’m not sure how this allergy/cold affected my shooting. I looked at my images briefly last night, but didn’t get them into Lightroom.

More: I’m preparing prints for juried competition for the first time at tomorrow night’s Sierra Camera Club meeting. I’m a little nervous. But, it’s all part of the learning and growth experience. I’ll let you know how I did.

Now, back to Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys and their beautiful grounds. This winery has a museum, tasting room, cafeteria, amphitheater and hosts events. When you’re there, it’s time to relax and rejuvenate. That is unless you have an allergy or a cold. Next time I go out, I’m bringing a whole tissue box with me!

 

A big step: Empire Mine, Grass Valley, California

I move slowly–I know it. So, when people started telling me I should enter my photos in competitions, I was reluctant. I didn’t know how to prepare them, didn’t know where to enter, etc. To help push me along, I joined the Sierra Camera Club.

This is a big step for me because they have two monthly juried competitions. Last week I put two images in competition. Wow, that was intense. I was really looking for guidance and constructive criticism. Scoring was 8 points at the low end and 12 at the high end. I really did not have any expectations of what score my photos would bring, I just wanted to hear what the judge had to say.

He went through more than 100 images in the open category and half that in the artistic category. I learned a great deal that night from listening to him. Oh, my images scored an 11 and 12. Below is “Capitol Moon” the one that earned 12 points. Not bad for the first time. And the expertise of many members is tremendous. Their photos were outstanding. Some of them warned me from experience not to get upset when I score my first “8” since judging was subjective.

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Next month, I need to print out some pictures for the competition. I’m still looking forward to it, knowing the judge will be different and may be more tough. For me it’s a big step towards learning more.

For this post, I’m taking you back to the Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley. My Tuesday group went there recently. I was hoping that with all the rain, the flowers would be blooming. No such luck. So I tried to shoot close up and do a little HDR. We did take the Cottage tour, bringing us inside the cottage (not the small cottage you may be picturing). See it again, but differently, through my camera lens.