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!!

Merry Christmas: Sacramento Capitol Building

Somehow I’m procrastinating and haven’t gone out to shoot Christmas Lights. It’s been cold here and that’s why I haven’t propelled my body out of the house. But, we did got to the California State Capitol building to shoot the Christmas tree, and since it was during Chanukah, the Menorah on the Capitol steps by Chabad. I was a bit disappointed that the Menorah wasn’t lit that night.

We got there early enough to go inside the Capitol and take indoor photos. I’ll show you some. The rotunda is beautiful. Next we went outside to set up. Here’s where I learned another lesson! Don’t go on an outing with a preconceived idea of what you’re going to shoot, and just shoot that. Look around, there may be something behind you!

When I finally looked around, I was able to grab a shot of Capitol Ave leading to the Tower Bridge with light trails. Most of my group walked a ways down that street.

My friend Jean will be getting her new camera a couple of days after Christmas, and the houses will still be colorful. No more procrastinating! Merry Christmas everyone.

 

In a funk: Fireworks on July 3rd

There’s nothing like fireworks and photo buddies to get you out of a funk. We’ve all been there. You know, you feel blah. It was a 2-week funk for me. I went shooting and tried to process the pictures. I was almost caught up!

During the summer, our local minor league team, the River Cats, shoots off fireworks after every Friday night home game. I probably would have skipped the fireworks so close to July 4th, (especially since there would be other evenings of fireworks) but my All About Photography Toastmasters Club was going, and so was I. We met many photographers from the Sacramento Photographers Facebook group too. Actually it ended up being a fun evening.

I was going to try shooting with two cameras. One would be set up on bulb and the other to shoot regular. But, at the last minute I decided to shoot with one. I tried putting it on bulb with a remote trigger, but didn’t like the results. I took it off of bulb and took out the trigger, shooting individually.

I have some of those shots to show you today. Yesterday on July 4th, we had our usual block party, and I was wearing my camera. One of the guests asked me if I was a photographer, and I said, “Yes, I finally feel I can say I’m a photographer.” That was a defining moment for me. I’ll show you some of those too, but they are not super since we were losing light, I didn’t have a tripod, etc. Also, I didn’t shoot the small fireworks because my dog is totally afraid of the sounds. So we watched TV while the others watched the fireworks show.

And, I’m out of the funk!

 

The waiting game: Fireworks after the River Cats Game

While the minor league baseball team, the River Cats, play baseball, we photographers play the waiting game outside the field. We’re waiting for the game to be over so we can capture the fireworks show. How long do we wait? It depends on how great the game is!

Once a month, the River Cats shoot off firework after a home game. I did this last year, with better success; however, I had help. This evening I was on my own, testing various settings. I wasn’t alone though, there were photo buddies along from the Sacramento Photographers. 

What did I learn? I learned that once you set up and have a great composition, don’t move the camera. When the fireworks started, I saw that the second grouping was further away from the main group of fireworks than I remembered from last year. So I quickly turned my tripod. MISTAKE! I would have done better to edit the smaller grouping out of the pictures and had a good composition. I lost the bottom of the bridge. So I cut in close during processing. If I didn’t mention it, you’d probably think that’s the way I meant it to be.

But, you’re reading this and joining me in my photographic journey. Maybe you’ll be able to learn from my mistake. I’ll be down there again to play that waiting game. It’s all a learning process.

 

Shooting in the dark: Fireworks and light trails

I love it when I learn, and I did learn when we went to shoot fireworks. I had good luck when using my old point and shoot by putting it on a special setting. It did all the thinking. When I tried to shoot fireworks with my D3100 it was a mess. I just didn’t know how to set the camera and I didn’t have a tripod.

Fast forward a year and a half, Shoot Or Go Home Meetup group is going the shoot fireworks–A chance to learn. Our local minor league baseball team, the River Cats, have fireworks after their home games. We used the Tower Bridge to set the stage and waited. During that time, Mary, the group’s organizer, gave us a lesson on how to get the best images.

And then they started. We were all anxiously pressing down the shutter button. The show was short and we did our best. I was happy with what I got. What I was not happy with was my camera’s processing length. With a short show, every second of processing time seemed like minutes.

Afterwards, we went to capture some light trails. Since I’ve done that before, I was able to help two other women succeed. So the student became the teacher!

I do love both teaching and learning.

A fun time with the peeps: Sacramento’s Tower Bridge at night

Yes, I’m trying to learn the new lingo. That’s one of the reasons I retired. I couldn’t keep up with the “20 and 30 somethings” colloquialisms, and it was time at 69 years! Hanging around with the peeps from Sacramento Photographers, a group on Facebook open to people who like photography, was fun.

I went out to the Tower Bridge with the intent to put my camera on manual, shoot with it on manual and get some light trail shots. I accomplished my task and also did some HDR. I don’t know why I didn’t shoot the HDR shots on manual rather than staying in my comfort zone at aperture priority. There’s always a next time.

Hopefully that next time will be with the Sacramento Photographers. They have one event a month, and the members are eager to share and help. They will also go out and invite the group at the spur of the moment like last nights activity. I’m looking forward to going out with the peeps again.

 

Shooting RAW

I was totally embarrassed–but not really. I’ve come to accept that in the Shoot or Go Home photo Meetup group, I’m a novice. But I did think there would be a level playing field when I went to the Lightroom workshop yesterday evening. I was wrong. I was amazed at the level of these photographers. For me, it meant there’s more possibility for my growth.

So what was I embarrassed about? I was the only one in the room shooting JPEG! When I was asked why, I just replied, “I’m afraid to!” But, I did promise to shoot RAW from now on. What was I afraid of? I didn’t know how to process RAW! With Lightroom, it’s easy. I sat through the three hours just amazed at what this program could do in the develop module. It even corrected buildings that were leaning due to the wide-angle lens distortion. Of course I could have also done this in PE9, but never took the time to dig through the manual to learn how. It was easy with Lightroom.

In my last post, I said I was going to try to straighten out the Tower Bridge in Sacramento. I did and I’m posting it tonight along with some other Lightroom vs. PE9 edits. What a program–shooting RAW from now on!!