Lens Artists Challenge #162: It’s all about the light

While I would like to take photos when the light is just right, sometimes I can’t. Then I go with what I’ve got! Yes, photography is all about the light or maybe the absence of it. This week, Tina has given us the challenge to share images that show the power of light.

I’ll start this post with a shot from Yosemite at first light in the Valley.

As the sun rises throughout the day, we get shadows depending on how high the sun is. Of course, when it’s directly overhead, that’s not the best time to take photos. The next two were taken in Locke California in the partial morning sun.

We can see how colors become dramatic when the sun hits them. Sedona, Arizona.

I think when the sun shines on even a mushroom it adds dimension and helps the picture pop. Here are two examples of sun and shade.

I love to take photos of flowers. This tulip almost looks as if it has a candle glowing inside because of the way the sun is hitting it. Taken at Ananda Village.

As the sun sets objects seem to have a glow. Taken at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert.

And finally the sun goes below the horizon and we have darkness–no light except man made. The Tower Bridge in Old Sacramento.

Controlling the light is another challenge for me. I bought diffusers, but haven’t used them yet. I guess I need to get started! Thanks Tina for this insightful challenge!

Lens Artists Challenge #155: On the Water

Sacramento may be called the “City of Trees” but a truer name would be “River City!” Or maybe Rivers City for the two main rivers that run through Sacramento. In addition, there are many creeks. Cripple Creek runs through my community. If we travel an hour or two, we can visit water areas in the Bay Area.

So, John, it’s a pleasure to take your challenge on! I love living here so close to the rivers, creeks and ponds. But as my images will show, there are many aspects to water around here.

How about the San Francisco Bay shore line where many water fowl are present. This one was photographed while walking the Marina Bay Trail which is a short 1.7 miles. If I still had my bird book (lost when I moved), I could probably ID it for you.

We also have water in fountains. This one was photographed in Tiburon while waiting for the ferry to Angel Island.

The city of San Francisco seen from Treasure Island also gives us a great bay view.

Putah Creek runs through the UC Davis Arboretum, attracting all sorts of water birds. Here we see a great egret.

And then there are ponds. We found this on on private property, and yes we asked if we could photograph it.

Rain water leaves puddles behind that capture wonderful reflections.

Water can also hide hidden treasure. My friend Ken is gold panning near a river.

Last we have the Spirit of Sacramento. She’s an old paddle boat that got stranded when the Sacramento River receded. Once after a lot of rain, I saw her in water. She hasn’t been moved in ages.

So there you have some of the water examples in and near Sacramento. Thank you John for this fun challenge. Next week I’ll be hosting a Black and White challenge. Take care and have a great week.

Lens Artists Challenge #142: You pick it, The 365 challenge

Our Lens Artists Challenges challenges can take us many places. This week, Ann Christine’s challenge took me back to 2015 which was the year I did the 365 challenge. If you haven’t taken that on, consider it. It wasn’t that I looked to take exceptional photos each day, I just took whatever was handy. It taught me discipline and improved my ability.

Not every photo was wonderful. Like the few weeks I just shot my foot that had the boot on after minor surgery. Gem, now runs out of the room when he sees the camera. The grandkids make stupid, funny faces when they see me pick up a camera. You get it, a whole year of taking the d7100 wherever I went. Taking a fast entry because I forgot. But also learning.

I briefly went through that year, 2015, and first hit the first, tenth, twentieth, etc. months and then went back to find some more. Here they are. Explanations are in the captions.

I was ready for this challenge to end and proud that I had shot a picture each day of the year. Then I was amazed at the difference in my photographic ability. If you don’t think you can do 365 days, try the 52 week challenge no matter what level you’re at. I’m glad I did!

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!

I should have asked questions: Sandhill Cranes

I know that Sandhill Cranes like to gather in the middle of a field which puts them out of reach for my prime 300 mm lens. I go to photograph them because sometimes they are closer to the road. In fact one year they were beside the road. I remember yelling at Laura to stop the car while we were in the middle of our side of the road. No other car was in sight and I got great images!

This time Ray and I were joining two other photo buddies at Woodbridge Ecological Preserve to catch the Sandhill fly in. I knew I would have trouble getting them even with my 300 mm lens. I actually thought since we were meeting at 3:30 p.m., we would be driving around for about 45 minutes, and maybe we could catch some of them closer to the road. We didn’t drive around!

We spent the entire time at Woodbridge. The Sandhills were there, but in the middle of the field. Too far for me. I tried with my Nikon D7100 which performs poorly in low light. That’s the camera the big lens fits on. I started taking pictures, but wasn’t happy with any of them.

So I thought, what’s 100 mm less? I learned it means a lot! But my Fuji is much better in low light, so I took it out and started shooting with a 55 – 200 mm lens. I would have gone home, but I wasn’t driving. Since I had both cameras on burst, I had a lot of bad photos to go through the next day! The Fuji managed to get a few okay Sandhill images and a nice mostly cloudless sunset!

So there you have it! Lesson learned; ask what the agenda is for the evening! Those pesky Sandhills.

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!

Luminar frustration: Old Sacramento

Did you ever have a problem only to be sent around in circles? Unfortunately, I’m writing this post just after encountering a problem with Luminar.

I’m licensed for Luminar 4, and in the short time I’ve had it, I love it! I get an email regarding what looks like an update to Luminar 4.3. Great! Not so great. Once I install the update, it tells me I downloaded a free trial. If I have a license, put it in this box. I copied and pasted my license number in the box, and it says it’s not associated with my email.

I try a few more things, and finally it says that license number is associated with my email! In frustration, I tried to get a hold of tech support. The chat box opened. This chat is computer operated–no live person at the other end. To make a long story less long. The chat bot, as it’s called, gave me instructions that either didn’t work or sent me in circles. I’m currently waiting for a tech support reply. Do you hear my screams??

Okay on to Old Sacramento. We went down there for a sunset. I was amazed at how crowded it was, and many people weren’t masked. That made me a little uncomfortable, so I tried to stay away from people as best I could. There weren’t any clouds, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to replace the skies with Luminar. It worked well, and for the most part I was happy with the results.

Here are some before and after shots.

This was the first one I did. A photo buddy suggested moving the cloud so that it wasn’t directly over the tree, but since it was a Luminar sky, I couldn’t.

This one I went from Lightroom to Luminar to Nik Silver Efex.

Another attempt with a much smaller sky.

And finally, this image got me into the trouble today. I was looking for a tutorial on cleaning up a sky replacement, but first went into my email. I should have gone to the tutorial first. This is the Tower bridge. I liked the sunset sky, but the second tower seems to have the sunset sky run through it. If anyone has a suggestion how to eliminate that thin bit of sky, let me know!

Luminar had nothing to do with this last image; just mother nature and a boat.

I’ll let you know how I make out with Luminar in another post. Maybe my next one! Hopefully in my next post!!

Lens-Artists Challege #116: Symmetry

I love these challenges because they get me thinking about how I shoot. This week’s Lens-Artists challenge is from Patti Moed and is on symmetry.

I mostly shoot asymmetrical because I find it more pleasing to my eye. However, I do like to do macro shots of flowers and tend to fill the frame in camera. When I do shoot symmetrically, it’s usually a road or building. Again, this is mostly institutively since I don’t have any art training.

So, with that in mind, here are my examples of symmetry.

Vertical

Horizontal

Radial

Thanks again Patti! I loved this challenge, and I’m looking forward to next weeks’.

Four in a row: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and 3 more!

Honestly, I’m not much of a birder, that is a photographer who loves to photograph birds. But I do like to get out during the season and do my best to capture some of our feathered friends. A great birding day, for me, is when I can photograph our amazing bald eagle. I recently went on an all day outing with Laura, who is an amazing nature photographer, to four wildlife areas within 2 hours from home.

First stop was the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge in Willows. Wow, just one drive around and we saw eagles, hawks, and sandhill cranes. Here are some of my images:

From there we went to Llano Seco Wildlife Area near Chico. We had never been there and were surprised to see just one viewing platform. I took the opportunity to do some landscape photography:

From here things get blurry in my brain. I should post these blogs when I’m fresh from the activity! We were out on January 11! I think these birds are from Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. It’s much smaller than Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, but there were photographic opportunities:

Our final stop was Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Gridley. The sun was beginning to set and we caught a golden glow on the birds and landscapes. The mountains in some of the landscapes are the Sutter Buttes. For sunset, we went to our favorite spot in the area to photograph a spectacular sunset:

So this was the beautiful end to our fantastic day! Could it get any better?

Do as I say…..Kauai, Hawaii

Merry Christmas everyone!

I finally finished editing my Kauai trip. Two of my photo buddies, Laura and Marlene, went, using my time share condo. This was my first trip dedicated to photography, and I was grateful to have two great friends along. It seems I never stop learning.

I made mention of my trip in a prior post, and my photo blogging buddy, Donna Robinson of Donna Robinson Photography, said she was looking forward to my Kauai posts so she could get some great tips of what to do when she goes. Well Donna, I can give you tips on NOT what to do!

First don’t pack every lens thinking you may need them. Really, do you want to miss any photo opportunity Hawaii can offer? I packed 5 lenses and two cameras. You do need a second camera if one breaks! Fortunately, I had a case that just fit all that stuff. Oh, I forgot to mention a flash and loop.

Second, don’t pack anything heavier than you can carry. I decided to put my camera bag and overnight tote on a luggage carrier and wheel through the airport. This worked until it was time to get on the plane. Then I had to carry the camera bag, tote and luggage carrier onto the plane. This wasn’t easy for a 75 year old weakling. Worse, when we were trying to catch our connecting flight, I didn’t have time to load up the luggage carrier. That night, my hip hurt and was hurting through the entire trip.

Third, check the camera settings. I shot on JPEG the whole week! I’m blaming the fact that I didn’t realize it on being 75!

Last, make sure you put your new logo into Lightroom on your laptop!

So Donna, that’s what not to do!

We spent our first day traveling to Waimea Canyon, stopping along the way at various turnouts, enjoyed our first introduction to shaved ice at Joe Joe’s, went on to Swinging Bridge and then caught our only sunset along Waimea Canyon Drive.

Here’s day one!