It’s raining, it’s pouring: Antique Trove, part 2

Yes, it’s still raining here in sunny California. In fact, we are getting atmospheric storms. A woman in Toastmasters this morning told us that her neighbor’s tree ended up in her pool! They are preparing for floods in certain areas that usually flood in rains like this. Discovery Park, a nice picnic area on the American River has been closed off. Many years in the past, those tables were under water!

Today, I was able to walk my dog, Gem, on his usual 2-mile trek. But, as I write this, the rain is coming down.

So, back to the Antique Trove in Roseville. I always bring money in with me when I shoot inside because I mignt find something I can’t live without. It’s also nice to buy something as a way of saying thanks for letting a photography group invade the store. Here are the last of the images I took.

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.

 

 

The unfinished story: The Clydesdale parade, Fairfield

Right now my life is like an unfinished story. I jump from one activity to another without finishing the first. And so it is with the second part of my visit to the Anheuser-Busch facility in Fairfield, California to see the famous Clydesdale horse team in action. So many things got in the way of my posting this blog, including a two-day Toastmaster conference.

But here I am at the computer ready to show you images of these beautiful horses. I received conflicting information of the horses’ ages. I can tell you that when they can no longer participate in parades, they live on a ranch and enjoy the rest of their natural life.

Another fact that amazed me was the time it took to dress the horses (in their fancy harnesses) and hitch up the team. Once the eight horses were hitched, they did one horse at a time, April (the dalmatian) and the drivers got on board for the ride around the parking lot.

I came home with over 500 shots to go through because I finally decided to use continuous shutter speed. Don’t worry, you don’t have to wade through them, just a few select ones.

Photoshop fun: IKEA

Nothing! That’s what I did for a week after we returned from our month long road trip to Montana, Glacier National Park and Weiser Idaho for the eclipse. It took us a few mornings to empty out the trailer so we can sell it. It seems we came home just in time for a heat wave, so we only had the mornings to work.

I did gather up energy to shoot with my Toastmaster photo club, All About Photography Toastmasters. We went to IKEA because of the heat. If you remember, I had been there with my Tuesday group so I chose to shoot with my macro lens for practice. I can’t say I was totally successful, but I did learn. This lens has such a short depth of field, and that made it difficult. It’s a 105 mm so I had to stand far enough back to get what  I was shooting in the frame and in focus.

Since  the shoot, I’ve been working on the images and found the Photoshop filter panel. What fun! With no effort on my part, the software took my images of patterns and turned them into great abstract designs. I’ll show you the before and afters:

I may have been able to do more, but I was stymied with my limited knowledge of layers. Now I have to delve into Photoshop now that my energy level is back. I had fun with these.

What’s your passion? IKEA, part 2

I have two passions: Photography and Toastmasters. Toastmasters changed my life and Photography enriches my retirement. So I decided to combine these two diverse activities and formed a Toastmaster’s Specialty Club: All About Photography (AAP).

At AAP we follow the Toastmaster format, but as our name suggests, we speak on photography and our table topics are on photography. We have photographers of all levels. Last week, I presented my images from IKEA for table topics. The participants were to give a 1 – 2 minute mini-speech on how they would edit these mostly abstract photos. I do crop well in the camera, so they had a difficult time imagining the total scene.

It was a fun exercise, and I picked up a few hints on what I could have done–next time. So what is your passion? What has changed your life? What enriches your life?

Here are my remaining images from IKEA in West Sacramento in black and white.

Moon over…..: Attempting to shoot the perigee moon

I’ve often mentioned in this blog that it is about my photographic journey. I’ve mostly shown images I’ve done well, but I never promised it would all be beautiful. Sometimes you have to fail in order to learn. Such was the occasion when my Toastmaster Photo Club decided to take a field trip and shoot the perigee (super) moon.

We checked out the moon rise time, the sunset time and a good place to shoot from. But things didn’t work out. The moon that was supposed to rise at 5:34 p.m. didn’t rise until 5:54 p.m. By then we missed the blue hour and had to shoot in the dark. I learned in my previous moon shoot to use a fast shutter speed. This was also a super moon, but not as close to the earth. The moon did what it was supposed to do–Rise during the blue hour.– and I got this shot.

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But the perigee moon didn’t make its appearance until after the blue hour. We needed to slow down our shutter speed and I got this.

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The moon is totally blown out. In talking with other photographers, it was suggested that I could have taken two pictures. One to expose for the moon and the other to expose for the foreground and then make a composite. Another said the only way he could get the shot was to have a friend shine a large flashlight to create a blue hour simulation.

Needless to say, I was very frustrated. But, I did learn from the experience. The big lesson was to not expect things to go as they did in a prior shoot. Oh, I am still open for more advice. Please share your expertise in the comments section.

Now, I’m going to edit some images that will be pretty to look at. Hopefully, the next time I shoot a super moon it will turn out well.

 

Experience, the best teacher: Hope Valley, part 2

I’m not a fan of event photography, yet, I’m learning it. When people are counting you your photos, there’s a lot of pressure. As Lead Photographer for District 39 Toastmasters this year, it’s my job to facilitate getting photo coverage for Division Contests, Conferences and other District activities. There’s organization involved, and I’m good at that. However, when I’m shooting a contest, conference, etc. I want to be at my best.

I wasn’t last Friday. I wasn’t mostly due to lack of preparation. I knew the venue, the lighting, but I forgot many tools. I had my speedlight, but no new batteries and diffuser. That presented a big challenge. I recently bought a larger camera bag, but didn’t want to tote it with me. In transferring stuff, I left much behind.

It turned out okay. I had two other Toastmasters shooting which helped. I’m going to another contest tonight, and I’ll be on my own. I’ve already packed my gear complete with diffuser and new batteries installed in my speedlight. The venue (Which is an hour away) will be a surprise, and the types of shots wanted has increased. Will I learn another lesson tonight? I hope not and that it goes smoothly.

Meanwhile, back to the type of photography I love–landscape. In this post, I’ll show you the shots of Hope Valley itself. Most, images were shot off the main highway. As I said in my last post, the valley is smaller than I imagined. I so totally enjoyed this shoot. It’s relaxing and challenging. Most of all, no one is dependent on the outcome!

 

 

 

Out and about Sacramento with my camera

I’m beginning to take my camera with me whenever I go where I think there may be something to shoot. Now, a trip to the grocery store, well there may be stuff to shoot there too. But, recently I was a trainer for Toastmaster officers down in downtown Sacramento during the lunch hour. So, I brought my camera. I should have brought lunch too.

My Toastmaster and photo buddy Bob and I took the light rail downtown where parking is difficult. While waiting for the training to begin, I practiced on manual, promising my fellow Toastmasters that I would delete the shots–I did. After the training, which was held in a cafeteria without food or vending machine, Bob and I walked to a nearby light rail station hoping to find something to shoot and something to eat. I did have an opportunity to shoot a memorial to slain police officers and a sculpture of a wife and daughter who had lost a husband and father. I also found some Mickey Mouse statues in a museum. We stopped in there to see if the gift shop had any food. We were desperate.

A couple of days later, I was chasing a sunset at Gibson Ranch with a couple of other photographers. The day before the sky was on fire, but I didn’t know it until it was dark out and photographers were posting their spectacular images on the web. Although we didn’t have the cloud cover of the night before, I did get a decent one-cloud shot.

So here are my images of being out and about with my camera.

 

Toastmasters and the rest of Capay Valley

Confession: I’m shy. I’ve always been a leader, but could never announce anything before a general meeting of any organization. Toastmasters changed all that. In fact, it changed my life. I went from being totally freaked out when speaking before an organization to giving workshops and seminars.

People join Toastmasters for all sorts of reasons. Some just want to punch up their speaking skills, some came because they got a new job that requires they speak before groups, and some need a self-esteem boost. Whatever the reason, I have seen, during my many years with Toastmasters, amazing growth in both speaking skills and leadership, and it fills my heart with joy.

Where else could you go for continued support in developing speaking and leadership skills for around $50. per month? Probably nowhere but Toastmasters. It’s now contest season for Toastmasters International, and I’ve been lucky enough to be the Toastmaster at two contests. And, I loved it! It’s wicked good fun to interview someone whether it’s for an article or at a contest.

I’m still shy, it doesn’t go away, but Toastmasters has taught me how to handle it. Yesterday, at a photography meetup in Old Sacramento (You’ll see some images soon.) I was able to go up to complete strangers and ask them to help me out with a picture.

Confession: I’m so happy to be involved with Toastmasters. And now for the last of Capay Valley.

 

Soccer and Toastmasters

I know, it’s an odd combination, but that is what my day was yesterday.

First was Ryan’s soccer game. We arrived in the second half, but I was able to get some images of our grandson playing. I’m trying to crop the other kids out or messing up their faces so they can’t be recognized. I know to publish a minor, you have to have permission and I think this is a form of publishing. So there’s  the difficulty. Ryan is a serious player as you can see by the expression on his face. Maybe, next time, we’ll get there in time for more and better images.

Now for Toastmasters. It is my club’s, Skillbuilders Toastmasters, 25th Anniversary, and we had a party. I tried to get mostly candid shots, but the sun was not cooperating at around 5 p.m. Does it ever? Some of the images were edited with “Auto Smart Fix.” I’m reluctant to mess with skin tones etc. On others, I got into the lighting. I’ve got to learn how to tame the sun. All advice is welcome.