Toastmasters teaches in many ways: Jepsen Prairie Preserve, Solano County, CA

Toastmasters changed my life, and I now call it the 12-step program for shy people. Because of this, it has been a passion of mine since 1989. Here’s a summary of my story: I started a business with a friend, needed to promote it, couldn’t stand up and give a 30-second commercial, went to Toastmasters, and within six months my friend and I were giving seminars at the chamber of commerce!

When I retired and started photography, another passion developed. So, I decided to combine my passions and started a specialty club that focused on photography. We are All About Photography, and everything we do pertains to photography. Little did I know that our District would ask us to be the official District 39 photographers. I soon learned how to use my flash and shoot events!

This past weekend, we were at the District 39 Spring Conference in Anderson, California, and I was amazed at how much at ease I was shooting the event. What a big difference from the first event!

Yes, Toastmasters has helped me in many ways and continues to enrich my life.

Now for Jepsen Prairie Preserve. Do you remember me lamenting about coming here and sneezing my way through the prairie? Well, here are the images from that visit. Looking back on the May 16 visit, I’m pretty sure it was allergy. While it did put a damper on the visit, I did get some nice photos. On the way home, Laura took me to shoot the Burrowing Owls in Davis, CA.

Have a look at the images, and if you want information on Toastmasters, a worldwide organization, contact me.

Disappointment? Not with friends around: Grizzly Island and Rush Ranch

I’ve never been on a photo outing where I didn’t get a good shot or learn something. This time, I learned not to return to Grizzly Island Wildlife Area in Suisun City, Solano County. When we were there last, it was during the drought. I thought, with the current rains, it would be different. I thought I’d see a lot of wildlife (It does boast of being 12,900 acres of prime wildlife habitat.)  and nice green marsh land. However, it looked much like it did last year with more water.

We drove for about 45 minutes and then called it a morning there. Next we, Ray, Marlene and I, went to Rush Ranch, which is down the road from Grizzly Island. At first Marlene wouldn’t get out of the car because of mosquitoes. They were swarming during our last visit. So Ray and I checked it out–no mosquitoes. Marlene joined us. I did get some shots that I hadn’t gotten in the last two visits.

Yes, it was a disappointment, and I probably won’t return; but we did have fun. Whenever you go out with friends, it’s fun. We shared jokes about this misadventure, mosquitoes and more. I value the friendships I’ve gained since beginning photography.

Seeking quiet: Lagoon Valley Park, Vacaville

I was seeking calm quiet before shooting a Toastmaster Division Contest which took place in Vacaville. I found a park, with a lake, that seemed to suit my need. I imagined serenity and a place to shoot. A bonus would be a nice place to sit and meditate before I went to the contest. That would be wonderful after driving an hour to reach my destination.

On any other day, Lagoon Valley Park might have fit my requirements, but that afternoon the park was busy and noisy. The local high schools must have been holding a cross-country track meet complete with runners, parents, teachers and school bands. So I didn’t get the rest I was looking for, but I was able to shoot scenery and some of the runners.

After my park visit, I went to the contest. And, found a challenge in the small crowded room. I did my best. My Toastmaster district has a photo site at http://www.district39photos.org. You can visit and see what we are up to when we’re not seeking quiet.

Those little buggers: Rush Ranch, Suisun City, California

Those little buggers are called mosquitoes,  and they were biting at Rush Ranch during a recent visit. We backtracked to Rush Ranch after leaving Grizzly Island and eating lunch. It wasn’t too far, and I knew there were things to shoot.

Rush Ranch is an operating facility and is part of the Solano County Farmlands & Open Space Foundation that provides educational programs. There are hiking trails and  grasslands. And, this time, there were mosquitoes. And did they bite!

Those who entered the barn to photograph the two barn owls were ferociously attacked. I decided the shot would not be worth the pain. I didn’t venture on any of the trails either. Nevertheless, I was bitten on my left index finger which took a little more than a week for the swelling to go down!

I’ve been there before and there were no little buggers to feast on us. You can never predict what environment you’ll encounter on a shoot!

Enjoy what I did get of Rush Ranch before rushing back into the car. The old equipment is there as museum pieces. All photos were shot and processed in HDR. No captions are necessary.