The challenge of big trees: Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Big Trees, CA

So, what’s the challenge? A tree is a tree! Not when they are giant Sequoias! This was my first time at Calaveras Big Trees State Park , and I enjoyed it. It wasn’t quite as amazing as Sequoia National Park, but it had the same enormous trees.

Sequoias are redwoods, big in girth and not as tall as the coastal redwoods. Jean and I took the short, supposedly 1 1/2 mile walk around the North Grove. I walk my dog 2 miles about 6 mornings a week, but this walk took twice as long! There was so much to take pictures of. We started at the Discovery Stump and continued past the Three Graces, the Mother and Son, The Abraham Lincoln Tree, and the Old Bachelor. Some of the other visitors were picture worthy too!

Back to the challenge of taking these shots, you can’t get the entire tree in the image, especially with a crop sensor camera. I did try though! Here, take a look.

A rain break: Capay Valley Ranches

Finally, a Tuesday with just the threat of rain! This was great timing since Yolo Arts and Ag had scheduled time for artists at Capay Valley Ranches in Capay Valley. This organization provides artists access to various ranches and farms in Yolo County. Painters will bring their easels, brushes and whatever medium they use and photographers bring tripods and cameras.

They let us roam the venue at will, giving us the opportunity to get great images and to get a feel for what life on a ranch is. Capay Valley is home to almond orchards. The trees are normally in bloom now; but with the cold and wet weather, they are not in full bloom.

This was disappointing, but we made the best of it, and enjoyed the partial sunlight. Oh, the wind was furious and gave us an additional challenge! I love my walk around 18 – 140 lens. Even with wind, it can stop action.

Here are some of my images from that windy, cold morning. It was great to be outside without an umbrella!

Rain relief: The Fair Oaks Bridge, Fair Oaks, California

It stopped raining for a day, so Linda, Jean and I went off to catch the Fair Oaks Bridge in the golden light. Yes, we asked for rain in California, and we are getting it. The drought is officially over–at least in Northern California!

We chose Fair Oaks because it’s close and the sky looked like the clouds would dump rain at any time. It was a fun couple of hours. I had a chance to play with natural light and composition. It seems so easy now, and I realize that I’ve come a long way with my photographic abilities.

The bridge didn’t disappoint us and neither did the golden light. The next day, the rain resumed. I’m so glad we were able to get out for those two hours.


Digging it: Copp’s Quarry, Rocklin, CA

A very beautiful, local place, Copp’s Quarry, is making way for houses. Some call it progress, photographers call it sad.

One of Rocklin’s most productive 19th-century granite quarries, Copp’s provided granite for Stockton and San Francisco. Copp’s closed around 1915, but remained one of Rocklin’s most scenic quarries. It is soon to be seen no more.

On a recent Tuesday, we made our way to Copp’s Quarry and walked through it. The landscape was still beautiful. Unfortunately we couldn’t get down to the creek in many places, the small lake was covered in some sort of algae and houses lined the perimeter. But, the weather cooperated and clouds were in the sky.

We all enjoyed what was probably our one and only chance to enjoy the quarry’s beauty.

Just a little disappointed: Independence Trail

You know that feeling you get when you set your expectations to a certain thing and that thing turns out not to be what you visualized? I don’t know what we expected when our Tuesday group decided to go to the Independence Trail near Nevada City in Nevada County. One of us envisioned a parking lot rather than pull off the road parking. I thought since it was billed as wheel-chair accessible, it would be a wide and nicely kept trail. We were both disappointed.

Of course, we visited in late summer when everything is dry and there’s very little green to be seen. Our fault for not planning better. There was brush everywhere and the beautiful Manzanita trees couldn’t stand out. So, most of us shot close up. We also had some lessons from senior photographers in our group. Jim showed me how changing from spot to matrix metering can change your photo. Tom was giving Karen and Kelley other gems of wisdom.

When you shoot with wonderful people, disappointment is minimal. We ate lunch in Nevada City and did some additional shooting. The venue may not have been what was expected, but we had fun and gained some additional knowledge.

All caught up: UC Davis Arboretum

Yes, I’m all caught up with my photo editing! It’s a great feeling, and I had the opportunity to learn some of the wonderful advantages of my processing programs, mainly their filters. I also have been putting single images into Photomatix to get that HDR look. It works well.

Next, I need to delve into Photoshop. Right now, I’m using it to remove unwanted things in a picture, but I do want to learn how to use layers. I know I said that in my last post. So much to learn!

Taking the photo is just one part of being a good photographer, but for me, it’s the fun part. I love going to new places and back to places I’ve been before. In today’s post, I re-visited a favorite with the Camera Totin Tuesday group—the University of California at Davis Arboretum. I like it there because it’s just a beautiful and calm place to walk through. This trip we went through the flower garden and were treated to beautiful blossoms and color. Our stroll through the arboretum proper was less colorful since the red buds weren’t blooming yet, or maybe they bloomed already.

This wet winter has nature’s cycles off kilter! There was also algae in Putah Creek. I remembered it being there the last time we were there, but there was so much more this trip. I’m also wondering if the algae is keeping the birds away. We usually see egrets and other water fowl, but this trip—none!

But there’s always beauty to be found. I’m going to show you some flowers and the creek with algae; however, I won’t be putting in captions since it’s mostly self-explanatory.

I may be caught up with editing, but I do have more outings to post in this blog. So stay tuned.

Shooting with an old friend: Ironstone Winery, the grounds

My old friend in this case is my 18 – 55 mm lens. It is my utility lens. Every time I promise myself to shoot with the prime 50 for the day, I usually pick up the 18 – 55. It is so nice that I rarely use my ultra wide lens when I have to carry the gear all day. I can do landscape and close up with this lens.

During our Ironstone Winery visit, I used my D7100 and the macro and 18 – 55 lenses. I will say that I look impressive with my sling (that sometimes carries two cameras) and vest. I’m pushing to live up to the image! In this post, you will see the grounds where they hold life cycle events and underground wine storage facility they call the cavern.

So here’s to my old friend, my 18 – 55! And here are the images.

A full day of beauty: The UC Davis Arboretum, the landscape

I’d like to think that the arboretum put on a fancy dress just for Laura, Marlene and me when we visited last week. However, I think we were lucky to catch the area in its glory. Spring had come, and beauty was everywhere, wildlife was out and people were strolling along the creek.

In my last post I explained that the arboretum is a 100 acre park that borders Putah Creek. About 17 gardens have been planted along the creek, giving variety to the eye and much to shoot for photographers. I also promised a three-part post with the second showing the arboretum’s landscape and the third–the people.

In this post, I’m showing you the landscape as seen through my eyes. I’m not going to caption these images since there are a lot of them. So, enjoy the beautiful creek, trees and shrubs. After all they dressed up just for us!

Just a little exercise: Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, California

Walking on river bed rock can give you a workout. The Effie Yeaw Nature Center is a place you can continually go back to and see different things each time. This time my photo buddy Rita and I walked near the American River which is low due to the drought. I keyed in on trees and mostly used my 55 – 300 mm lens that was mounted on my D3100. They were so expressive. Meanwhile Rita kept her eyes on smaller objects like birds and crawling things.

You see, I was raised in the city and suburbs, and I’m not used to finding the small wonders of nature. I’m learning though. We do want to go back for sunrise so we can catch the sun’s beauty and the deer. Getting there at 7 a.m., Rita saw a lot of deer. However, I didn’t see one, getting there at 8 a.m. The last time we were there, we saw one deer family.

After a two-hour workout, we left. I’ll be going back on Sunday for their Nature Fest. They will have many activities I’m sure my young grandkids will enjoy. We won’t be walking along the river though!

U.C. Davis Arboretum

Some of us learn our lessons in a difficult way. I’m one of those people which is why I named this blog Slow Shutter Speed!

Yesterday, my friend Jean and I went to the U.C. Davis Arboretum. Fortunately we went at the golden hour before sunset because in winter the arboretum is stripped of its colorful beauty. However, the position of the sun and the still water, gave us beautiful shadows and reflections.

I brought along my two cameras and new sling. However, at the last minute, I decided not to hook on the D3100 and a telephoto lens. The last time I was at a photo shoot here, there were no birds–nothing really to shoot with a long lens. Mistake! Of course there were three birds and a hang glider!!

By the way, the sling was so comfortable; there was no need to switch it to the other shoulder. I’m also slow at learning the D7100. Things keep coming up, but the David Bush book I ordered should be coming today. He is so much easier to understand than the manual. I am becoming comfortable with the camera and the extra 1/2 pound weight doesn’t seem to bother me.

Now, back to the Arboretum which borders a creek. It’s an easy walk, and plants are along side the road. Even in winter, it’s a pleasant place to visit. In fact, we passed bicyclists, runners, dog walkers, drummers, and folks just conversing. I plan on visiting again in the spring, maybe in the early hours to catch the sunrise glow. Oh, yes, I’ll be carrying both cameras. By then I hope I’m a pro with the D7100.

Some of my images are in the gallery.