Growing more than just flowers: Horton’s Iris Farm, part 1

I walk Gem every day. He has two routes: one is 1 1/2 miles and the other 2 miles. This gives us the opportunity to see the neighbors’ gardens grow. These walks make me think of personal growth. When do you stop? I don’t think we ever do.

Which brings me to my photography journey and the reason I started this blog many, many years ago. This was to be my journal showing the progress of my photographic ability–which when I began was practically non-existent. I decided not to take classes because I didn’t want homework and still shy away from challenges that want you to take new photos. So, by asking questions, making mistakes, camera clubs with juried competitions, and field experience I’ve come along and progressed. And, I’m still learning!

I now find myself giving advice to new photographers and can hold my own with other seasoned photo hobbyists. I may have picked the long route to get here, but I arrived anyway.

Have you taken on something new and followed your own path to success? I’d like to hear about it.

Meanwhile, here are some pictures taken at a recent visit to Horton’s Iris Farm in Loomis. We may have been a bit to early to catch more of their beautiful irises. Horton’s is a farm where they grow and sell plants. You can buy plants at their farm or online. You can also cut your own bouquets. They also grow zinnias and sunflowers, and have a pumpkin patch in October. Enjoy!

Next week I’ll show you more about this farm. It’s more than just irises!

Lens-Artists Challenge#192: Earth Story

In her challenge this week, Amy wants us to think about our earth. It impacts our daily lives: the water we drink, the oceans that provide us enjoyment, the soil that brings us food, the trees the help us breathe. We rely so much on our earth.

I was raised mostly in the Bronx, New York, in a mostly concrete jungle. Yes, there were trees and parks, but I was never taught to appreciate nature. It wasn’t until I had kids that I began that appreciation. Our vacations were camping get-a-ways. We took the boys to every National Park and many State Parks–from the ocean to the mountains and even the desert. Unfortunately the pictures I took then were with a point and shoot camera, and mostly of the boys. I do have them in albums for my own joy.

Photography gave me the opportunity to not only enjoy our earth, but also record it. Let’s begin with my local Sacramento County area. We are lucky to have many creeks around the valley like our neighborhood Dry Creek.

Mather Lake is a nearby treasure for photographers and fishermen (and women). I go there to photograph swans, but on this day I found a pelican and cormorants.

We are a couple of hours away from the coast, giving us a wonderful day trip. Heading west, the Marin Headlands is a great spot for water sports, fun and photography.

North of us is Table Mountain which was formed from ancient lava (basalt) flows. It is very rocky and in Spring, it is loaded with wildflowers. It’s called Table (mountain) because of it’s mostly flat surface.

We go east every Fall to find the beautiful orange and gold color of Autumn.

I’ll end this post with nature’s way of painting her earth with golden light–a sunset. This one, taken in nearby Yolo County, is setting on a field of earth giving sunflowers.

Thank you Amy for having us remember to cherish our earth and take care of it. Would we survive without it? Please remember to link to Amy’s post and use the Lens-Artists tag.

We totally enjoyed your all your curvy responses to Patti’s challenge. Next week, get ready to celebrate because John will host LAPC #194. For his challenge, be thinking about what is special to you regarding birthdays or anniversaries.

 If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, we have easy to follow instructions. Just click this link and join us: https://photobyjohnbo.wordpress.com/about-lens-artists/

Lens Artists Challenge #174: Shapes and Designs

Just look around you. Wherever you are, open your mind and see the shapes and designs of the objects around you. In this week’s challenge, Patti encourages us to see the shapes and designs around us. Truthfully, I didn’t truly see the possibilities until I started photography. Now I see them everywhere!

For instance at an outing to Ironstone Vineyards a few years ago, we were down in their cellar that they call the Cavern. The round wine barrels stacked and angled down a cavern hallway offers many shapes and designs.

Water lends itself to shapes and designs too. The fountain at the Fountains shopping center offers many shapes and designs. A single burst of water takes its own shape while the entire fountain lets your imagination free. A crystal ball turns our design upside down.

Fairs and carnivals also offer us photographic opportunities for shapes and design. The Ferris wheel was photographed at the Nevada County Fair. Just sitting still we can recognize many shapes like triangles, rectangles and, of course, round. But at night during a carnival, light play turns it into a design bursting with color.

Sunflowers give us various shapes too.

I’ll end with trees. They are beautiful in design with their branches gracefully stretching out. Add some fog and you have a more dramatic scene.

Thank you Patti for helping us find adventure in our archives!

The heat is on: The sunflowers are smiling!

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.

Lens Artists Challenge #154: One Photo, Two Ways

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.

Thank you Tina for giving us this fun challenge!

Lens Artists Challenge #147: Gardens

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.

Soon we’ll be looking to photograph the lotus at William Land Park in Sacramento.

And finally are roses from the McKinley Rose Garden in Sacramento.

I now realize I do have to photograph more landscape images of the beautiful gardens near me. While I do enjoy macro work, sometimes I need to look at the big picture!

Lens-Artists Challenge 136: Subjects starting with the letter “S”

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.

Jumping to that infamous year 2020, we have a delectable sweet treat taken at the Isleton Asian Festival, a shed taken on a road trip and shadows on a gazebo at the UC Davis Arboretum.

Now for some recent pictures in 2021, I’ll close this post with a sidewalk at Coyote Pond in Lincoln and snow at Donner Lake. Both taken this year.

Thank you Patti for this fun challenge!

Lens Artists Challenge #122: The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

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.

It can brighten up the gold colored Tower Bridge in Sacramento.

It can help the sunflowers smile and form a sunburst to pop through trees in a forest. It can also be a light at the end of a natural tunnel.

And at sundown it can create magical beauty.

The sun helps us see positivity and can brighten our world. In his blog regarding this challenge John RH quoted some lyrics from “Here Comes The Sun” by the Beatles. Here are all the lyrics:

Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here


Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


Little darling, the smile’s returning to their faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here


Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear


Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


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!

Yolo Art & Ag: Harrison Farms, Woodland

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?

It’s that time of the year: Sunflowers and zinnias

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.”

We also stopped at a safflower field.

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.

Do you like sunnies as much as I do?