Heat and drought! Not a good combination. We are in the midst of wildfire season here in the west, and Northern California is getting its share. But what makes us smile are the sunflowers. Yes, it’s also sunflower season here.
In the middle of June, the wonderful Yolo Arts & Ag Project brought us to the Elkhorn Basin Ranch in West Sacramento. It was going to be a hot day, so we got there early. Artists and photographers were lined up to sketch, paint and photograph the cheerful sunflowers.
Now these sunflowers were grown mainly for seed to ship overseas, and to my surprise, they were not super tall. I’m short and I always have a difficult time to photograph fields even with my three-step ladder. I was in photo heaven. Also the farm manager allowed us to walk into the field a little bit.
So, here are some of my images from that morning.
An artist stops to smile for the camera.
Before we reached our destination, we did stop to take images of this orchard.
The Elkhorn Basin Ranch is owned by the Yolo Land Trust and leased to Don Beeman and Garcia Farms.
Years ago while taking pictures, with a small point and shoot, at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, Richard asked me why I was squatting. I truly didn’t know photography then, but I knew that to get a better picture I needed to get down low. In her challenge this week, Tina is asking us to look at the same scene in different ways.
I’ve gone back into my archives to 2019, and found two instances where my changing distance, angle and perspective changed the image. First are the tulips at the Crystal Hermitage Gardens, Ananda Village. Just walking to face the flower while standing up changed the image. The picture on the left was lower to capture the sun and texture of the leaves.
Some more flowers. Sunflowers. Here we have a total landscape of the sunflowers. How beautiful and happy they look. Now coming in as close as we can without going into the field and changing orientation, a busy bee took the spotlight. The third image shows a little more of the bee’s habitat. And the last shows a side view of a sunflower opening.
For my last example, I chose a recent outing to the Salmon Falls Bridge, Pilot Hill, only seen during a drought and when the river bed is low. First, a full landscape view showing the river bed and bridge in the distance. Then close to the bridge. And finally a close up of the bridge itself. Each tells a story.
I hate to work them, but I love to look at and photograph them. The “them” are gardens. And when I do photograph them, I tend to do macro or close up work. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a formal garden. So, for Amy’s challenge of gardens, I looked back about 3 years and this is what I found.
Maple Rock Gardens is a private residence that is open to the public for special events. Linda and I visited during one of those events.
Each year in June I love taking pictures of sunflowers in and around Woodland. Usually on the way out we, my photo buddies, go to Mezger Zinnia Patch. They ask people to come and pick the flowers for their own use and to give away to others who can’t get out. The zinnias always attract butterflies.
I enjoy our weekly challenges because they help bring back memories of fun photo outings. And, as I dig way back into prior years, I see how my photography has improved. This week Patti has given us the letter “S” and suggested many ways we could post on it.
I just dove into my archives and here are some memories that I enjoyed re-visiting.
In 2018, Marlene and I went with a Meetup group for a photo walk along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. It was a wonderful day topped off with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (There aren’t any in Sacramento!). On the left is a probable homeless man sleeping on a bench. On the right is a sightseeing bus with lots of tourists. What a dichotomy of life.
Also taken in 2018 is a sunset with sunflowers taken in Yolo County.
I’m sure we’re all waiting and hoping for new beginnings right now. This pandemic is getting old and depressing. We need some sunshine in our lives. This challenge from our guest host Ana of Anvica’s Gallery, is about sunshine and how it helps us get through difficult times with a little self help.
Here’s what she says: “Not every day can be wonderful. There are times in life when suffering is there, for many reasons, and it is difficult to overcome. Those moments are part of life and no one gets rid of them. But how we live those situations and what we learn from them, is within us. Although a pleasant ray of sunshine always helps, right?”
However, in photography the sun helps us in many ways. First it makes shadows for us.
Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo Here comes the sun It’s all right It’s all right
Yes, one of these days, it will be alright especially if we do some self help. Oh, if you look for the song, try to stream the Richie Haven’s rendition. I’m playing it now, and I’m feeling better. Thank you Ana!
It’s time again to wander, or should I say get lost, down those country roads in Yolo County. Each year Yolo Art & Ag sponsors monthly visits for artists and photographers to farms in the county. I have certainly benefited from these sojourns. I grew up in the city, and I’ve been able to see first hand how a farm operates.
Harrison Farms, featured a sunflower field and a some farm animals. When Marlene and I arrived, we stopped at the sunflowers first. Typically, bee keepers put hives near the fields and this was no exception! But the bees are so busy, they don’t bother someone who is allergic like me! As a field, this one wasn’t spectacular but individually the flowers were fun and pretty to photograph.
And then there was the farm itself. The pond was photographic.
There was also a small garden.
They also had a walnut tree grove.
It was an easy and fun visit. I wonder where we will go in July?
Nothing can make you smile like a sunflower! When you see a whole field of yellow and orange looking at you, you just get a great feeling. This year I had the opportunity of visiting Woodland twice and photographed two sunflower fields and Metzger’s Zinnia Patch.
When we visit the sunflower fields, we are careful not to disturb the plants and shoot from around the patch. As photographers, we are happy we’re allowed to take pictures. Cooperation goes a long way!
Bee colonies are kept near the fields to help polinate. I can assure you they are busy bees! Here are some “sunnies.”
Now for the zinnias. What is special about this patch of zinnias is that the Metzger family allows people to pick the flowers and encourages them to share with others who can’t get out. You’ll see moms and their kids having fun choosing their favorites.
I can’t believe I haven’t posted since July 2nd. Has life been that busy for me? I didn’t think so! Now, with this post, I hope to get back in the posting groove. I may not have been posting, but I’ve been shooting.
And, since this is about the progression of my photographic journey, I’m proud to say that I now close out of most article-type tutorials because I know the information. So this means I need to focus on post processing. I keep saying that, but I truly need to carry through with it. I’m competent with Lightroom, but Photoshop is still a mystery. I’ll have to just make the time and get into it. Maybe that will take my photography to the next level.
But, on to the sunflowers, or sunnies, as we Sacramento photographers call them. The images in this post are from two outings. These sunnies were located near the small town of Yolo in Yolo County. Photo buddy Karen was our guide for both trips. One is in the morning and the other was at sundown. Of course, when I try to catch a sunset, there are no clouds! However, the flowers had that golden light glow.
I got my sought after shot this year–a sunflower field so dense that when you shot over the top, all you can see is yellow. Thank you Karen A. for scoping the fields out. And thanks to a step ladder! Yes, I’m sort–too short to have gotten the image without a little help.
I remember in past years going crazy to find sunflower fields, only to be there too early or too late. This year things were different in Yolo County.
I’ll make this a short post so you can see them. Oh, what did I learn? Patience prevails and always have a step ladder in your car trunk!
Hope these make you smile!
Bees were busy.
Getting in the middle.
These fields are large.
Shooting over the Sunnies.
From the side.
They are beautiful no matter how you shoot them.
There were wheat fields opposite the sunflower fields.
Yes, sunflowers were popping up again. But this time in a different field, in Davis, and different time of day. We, Marlene, Linda and I, found the field about 11 a.m., and the sun was getting high in the sky. A visit to the California Automobile Museum, in Sacramento, caused us to arrive a little later than we would have liked.
My goal was to shoot over the field and get a wide shot. However, we forgot to bring a small ladder. Okay, I’m short! I did my best, trying to stand as tall as possible. It was a different type of shoot than the last during sundown. There was no back lighting, just blaring sun. I’m finding that I now make do with the environment I shoot in, figuring what type of shot would work best.
For instance, at the Automobile Museum, the cars were so close together and the lighting poor so I decided to do mostly close ups. I went for the hood ornaments, the tires, the horns–whatever looked interesting and different. I’m now shooting with intent and not just doing snapshots. I’m actually able to pull out something good from what doesn’t look like a great photo opportunity.
I’m still learning, but I’m more confident in my abilities. There’s another sunflower shoot on July 5. Maybe I’ll join them, you never know what will pop up!