Wine & Lavender: Great Bear Vineyards

It was another Art & Ag opportunity, but not to a farm. This time we visited Great Bear Vineyards in Davis. How wonderful to find a treasure like this so close to Sacramento and within Yolo County.

Upon arrival, I was surprised by the difference in the grape vines. I’ve usually seen squatty knarled vines, but these were tall and mostly smooth. I’m sure it has to do with the type of grape grown.

The winery was simply beautiful from the doors to the patio.

Seeing lavender grown was a first for me. I’m allergic to the lavender scent (like when a scented candle is lit), but I wasn’t having any problems this visit.

Of course the artists were also enjoying the beautiful surroundings.

And, the grounds added an amazing touch, sort of like a farm atmosphere.

It was a fun and wonderful morning and I’m happy to share it with you!

Toastmasters teaches in many ways: Jepsen Prairie Preserve, Solano County, CA

Toastmasters changed my life, and I now call it the 12-step program for shy people. Because of this, it has been a passion of mine since 1989. Here’s a summary of my story: I started a business with a friend, needed to promote it, couldn’t stand up and give a 30-second commercial, went to Toastmasters, and within six months my friend and I were giving seminars at the chamber of commerce!

When I retired and started photography, another passion developed. So, I decided to combine my passions and started a specialty club that focused on photography. We are All About Photography, and everything we do pertains to photography. Little did I know that our District would ask us to be the official District 39 photographers. I soon learned how to use my flash and shoot events!

This past weekend, we were at the District 39 Spring Conference in Anderson, California, and I was amazed at how much at ease I was shooting the event. What a big difference from the first event!

Yes, Toastmasters has helped me in many ways and continues to enrich my life.

Now for Jepsen Prairie Preserve. Do you remember me lamenting about coming here and sneezing my way through the prairie? Well, here are the images from that visit. Looking back on the May 16 visit, I’m pretty sure it was allergy. While it did put a damper on the visit, I did get some nice photos. On the way home, Laura took me to shoot the Burrowing Owls in Davis, CA.

Have a look at the images, and if you want information on Toastmasters, a worldwide organization, contact me.

I guess I’m being humble: Point Reyes, Part 2

Without really understanding the effective uses of slow shutter speeds, I named this journal Slow Shutter Speed because that’s how I felt my photographic abilities were moving along. But that was when I got my D3100 and was a total newbie. The learning curve was difficult, and I learned through shooting, reading and asking questions. I’ve never taken a class. Along the way, I met many terrific photographers who were more than willing to help. The purpose of this blog was and still is to take you along on my journey.

So why am I going into this, I’ve received comments from friends that I’m being to hard on myself and not realizing how far I’ve come with my skill level. I do realize that my skills have increased, but I’m shy by nature and don’t usually toot my own horn. I recognize that I’m now asked to help a new photographer, can offer suggestions on shooting and editing, and hold my own in the field.

Some of you who have followed this blog from the beginning, know where my photographic journey has taken me. And, some of you are very gracious with your wonderful comments. For me, it’s like shooting in the fog I encountered at Point Reyes National Seashore. I look at each challenge with trepidation, jump in, conquer it and soon the fog is lifted.

In today’s post, I’m showing you some of the less foggy images of Point Reyes.

I almost forgot: Leanne Cole has brought me back to my writing roots by asking me to do a regular column in her amazing online quarterly magazine. We are calling it “Senior Moments,” and the magazine is “Dynamic Range.” Look for it at www.leannecole.com.au.

One off Linda’s bucket list: Donner Lake Tunnels

I’m sorry to say that I really don’t have a bucket list. But, happily, photo buddy Linda does!

Her bucket list brought her, Marlene and I back to Donner Lake for the third time this year. I’ve lived in the Sacramento area for 15 years and had never been there. Thank goodness for photography. This hobby has taken me to more places I could imagine. And, back to those places.

During this Donner Lake trip, we specifically went to see the Donner Lake Railroad Tunnels that were on Linda’s bucket list. Fortunately, she knew of a way we could get there without hiking up the rocky mountain. Driving there and parking the car was easier, especially for three seniors.

These three tunnels totaling 1,659 feet were the first railroad line to traverse the Sierra Nevada Range. Built largely by Chinese workers, the tunnels were completed in August 1867 and the first train passed through it on June 18th, 1868. The last train passed through in 1993 when the route was changed to a new location.

We passed through it on July 2, 2016. Well, we made it through the first two short tunnels and half way through the long third one. The train rails are gone, and the walls are decorated with graffiti. It’s an experience to do at least once, and the doors in the third tunnel exit to an excellent view of Donner Lake.

After the tunnels, we drove back down and rode around the Lake. It was very different in the summer. In the winter it was serene and beautiful; however, in the summer, it was crowded. I’ll show you both images.

I enjoyed this trip, but I wonder what else is on Linda’s photo bucket list? We’ll see.

 

 

 

The photo journey continues: Day 2 in the Sonora area

It’s living a dream. I wake up in the morning and my friend asks, “Where would you like to shoot today?” Of course, I didn’t have a clue, but it felt great to have someone willing to guide you through a day of photography. Our second day of fun was about to start.

Sandy and Ken first took us to the Red Hills ACEC, an Area of Critical Environmental Concern. This land was designated ACEC in 1993 to protect flora, a rare minnow  (Red Hills roach) and the bald eagle wintering habitat. We didn’t see any eagles and wouldn’t know a Red Hills roach if we saw it.  Sandy and Ken had never been there, but Sandy heard that wildflowers were blooming in that area. So this was an adventure for all of us.

It’s a good thing Ken’s Subaru has all-wheel drive because our adventure took us through some very rough and ready dirt roads. We had to cross three streams. I think Ken enjoyed the drive. There’s a daredevil in that body! While we were being jostled around, we did get some beautiful images of beautiful scenery.

After lunch, we went to Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Ken serves as a docent there so we wanted to see what captures his heart. Another docent, Paul, took us around. This is a working facility. They rebuild old trains, give train rides on the weekend and house several stars! Do you remember a television series called Petticoat Junction which ran from 1963 to 1970? Train number 3 was on that show. It was also featured in many movies and is still in demand.

Paul took us through many areas of the roundhouse and showed us the grounds. It was a great tour. When I wake up tomorrow, where will my dream take us?

On the road again: Sedona, Arizona, the final chapter: Catapillar Point, Out of Africa and Tuzigoot

It wasn’t supposed to be a journey’s end, but it was. We were going to take a day on our way home, from Sedona, to drive through Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks, but I fell on the way to Bakersfield. It’s amazing how people rush to help when you have gray hair! I’m okay–just a couple scrapes, one big bruise and a sore shoulder. With that happening, I decided it would be best to head home.

Yes, I’m disappointed because those National Parks are my favorite. I’ll try to get there in the fall. In the meantime, I want to show you a little of the Out of Africa Wildlife Park. This isn’t like a safari park where you drive through and the animals are walking about. This park is a sanctuary. On this trip, we saw a small animal show, a tiger swim and play show and rode through an area where the animals roamed free. You’ll see from the pictures that these animals are very used to humans, especially the giraffes! The zebras can become a little testy!

Tuzigoot is a National Monument of Native American ruins. When you see the small rooms, you’ll wonder what the Southern Sinagua tribe would think if they saw our large dwellings! We decided not to visit their other dwellings, Montezuma Castle and Well, because we saw them during our last visit.

Caterpillar Point  was our last stop on this trip. It was a rocky stream bed, some small water falls and lots of wildflowers including a century cactus bloom.

Take a look at our last two days before we ended our journey and headed home.

Deja vu: Mossy trees and mustard, Lake San Antonio, Monterey County, California, part 3

Mustard! It’s yellow just like the condiment, but you don’t spread it on sandwiches or hot dogs. You just look at its beauty and admire it. I’m amazed at how wildflowers can make a hillside or valley look stunning. You’ll see mustard in this post; the last of our visit to Lake San Antonio.

It was sad to see Lake Nacimiento and San Antonio so low in water capacity. We used to camp there with our children when we had a boat. We saw Nacimiento from Lakeside Rd and drove down to San Antonio. The California drought is becoming very noticeable now. We are beginning strict water rationing, which I think should have been done sooner.

Right now there are thunder storms north of us and it may be snowing in the Sierras. But, that won’t be enough to get us through the hot summer. I know the east coast has had enough rain and snow. Funny how Mother Nature is!

So, let’s get on with the serving of mustard–no hot dogs on the side!

Starry, starry night: An astronomy star party, Lake San Antonio, Monterey County, California

Dry brittle low lying ground cover with lots of fox tails and some wildflowers welcomed us to our campground at Lake San Antonio this past weekend. Some of it was due to the fact that we were in the overflow area where there were few trees, but the drought has also taken its toll.

But the wildlife activity was normal with many chipmunks and rabbits running the campground. They left small to large sized holes that Gem liked to stick his mussel into and I kept pulling him back. But we were there for the stars and there were plenty of them.

This was my first attempt at shooting star trails. So armed with my printed out tutorials, I set up my tripod and camera and did my best. Thank goodness for Lightroom! No matter what I did, my images turned out with a light tan background. Each night I used a different lens and kept the aperture open. I did 30 minute exposures because I didn’t have stacking software.

I brought my challenge to my Toastmasters Photo Club meeting, it was suggested that I needed to close down the aperture because I was letting in too much light. Well, I’ll try that the next time we go up to the observatory at Blue Canyon. It needs to get a little warmer for my body! In the meantime, I’ll show you what I did get.

I was also shooting during the day, catching some of the wildflowers and fox tails, and I’ll show you those images in my next post. On to my starry nights.

Dog walking human: A surprise at Dry Creek Park

You know we use our dogs as an excuse or motivator to exercise. They know it and pretend they want to go for a walk. There’s the reality: they walk us! It was on such a walk that I received a surprise.

I had agreed to walk with Richard and Gem at their new place, Dry Creek Park. They have a new playground and sort of trail. When I go to Dry Creek, I walk along the creek with my camera to practice. This time I knew we weren’t going to the creek, but I need a shot for my 365 challenge so I brought my camera.

Now you’re probably wondering what the surprise was…wildflowers! My dog had this all planned out! So enjoy the walk that Gem took us on!

Dial “M” for manual, mossy trees and mustard: Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley is the place to go to find mossy trees and mustard plants, and shoot on manual. It’s actually where I had a significant breakthrough on shooting manual. I think I have a smidge more to learn, but I’m mostly there.

Known for its wineries and beauty, Napa Valley was the target for our Exploring Photography Meetup group a couple of weeks ago. We met for lunch and then went off in search for mossy trees and mustard. We had four in our car, and without written directions, we were relying on memory to follow the verbal directions given us. Of course that didn’t work, so we just followed our noses!

Before lunch, we did stop at Turnbull Winery to look at their Ansel Adams exhibit. We took the time to shoot what we could of the winery.

After lunch, we found mustard (a yellow wildflower that seems to grow well under the barren grape vines) accidently while driving to where we thought we remembered the mossy trees to be. It was a small and accessible field–a great find.

Luck followed us to the mossy trees also. These trees had lichen hanging from the barren branches, giving the trees an eerie look. We saw the trees but then went up to the Chappellet Winery and was quickly dismissed back down the road! We did stop to shoot the trees.

Now on to the mossy trees and mustard, both shot in manual!