Lens-Artists Challenge #125: You Pick It!

For me, this challenge is like giving a kid a bunch of toys and saying okay pick one! Which one do you pick? Why do you pick it? So, what subject do I pick? What photos do I pick? Yikes!

This challenge by Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles caused me to think about how my photography progressed through the years. I went back to 2012 when I bought my Nikon D3100. This was a used entry level consumer DSLR. I was closing my business and looking for a hobby and didn’t want to invest a lot into something I might not enjoy.

I took the camera on a Mexican cruise that year and had fun photographing the colored lights aboard the ship.

I was still using my 3100 in 2013 when I made my first visit to a wildlife preserve (Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge). Fortunately this little guy was on the ground and close. My post processing hadn’t reached the Lightroom stage yet.

In 2014 I had my first experience shooting light trails. I had upgraded my camera to Nikon’s D7100 which was Nikon’s highest level consumer camera. This was taken in Sacramento. I did have freeway shots, but I wanted to show you something more.

In 2015 I went to Bodie, a State Park and old ghost town, where I experienced my first bout with altitude illness. There I practiced HDR, popular then, on the old structures that were in danger of falling. By then I was processing with Lightroom and Photomatix Pro.

My first shot at the Milky Way came in 2016. I’ve had better success since, but astrophotography has never become a favorite of mine. This is strange because my husband is an astronomer!

Sometimes you take a leap of faith. This picture taken in 2017, provided me with an entry for what I thought was a small town photo contest my friend told me about. This was in Sonora in the Gold Country. Little did I know, the best of Sacramento were also entering. Two of my photos made it to the wall and one made it to the final choice table. My friend had one image make it to the wall. She was delighted to have been chosen among the talented photographers and so was I. This was the one that was so close to being a top winner in 2019. I didn’t enter that contest this year because it was nerve racking, and with COVID my nerves were already under pressure.

I love slow shutter photography and would go to our local mall when they had small carnivals to practice. I captured this in 2018.

While I’m not a birder, I can’t resist an easy shot. My friend took me to what I call the nesting trees. Egrets and other large birds choose to make their nest in the cluster of trees and put on a show for photographers. By then I got an old-used prime F/4 300 mm. Although heavy, it has clarity. So, here’s my 2019 entry!

And here we are in 2020, the year we thought we’d never experience. Photography is a little more difficult these days, but it still provides the relaxation and mental stimulation it always did. I’m so happy I started back in 2012. This has become my passion. I hope you enjoyed my photographic journey.

Lens-Artists #114: Negative Space

I’ve noticed that some people like negative space and create a minimalist lifestyle, and others like their surroundings busy (I won’t say cluttered.). I’m somewhere in the middle. My surroundings may be full, but it is neat and tidy. However, I’ve never thought about how the concept applied to how I take my photos.

Thank you Amy (The World Is A Book) for this weeks’ challenge. It helped me realize that I truly do not consider negative space when I shoot. Yes, I have skies that take up 2/3 of an image, birds in large pools of water, etc. But, these shots were never planned for negative space and its impact. I usually crop in close in camera. Even my landscapes are cropped in camera. Planning for negative space is something I should work on!

So, here are some of my inadvertent negative space images.

Thank you Amy!

Finishing up 2018: Effie Yeaw and Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Gray Lodge

Since our world is shrinking, most of you know about the government shut down partially in the United States. Let’s put politics aside and think about the people who are being used as pawns in this game. It’s even affected us photographers with some of our National Parks partially closed.

Being a National refuge, all services were gone at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge in Willows. It was, however, open for those who wanted to take the driving tour. Laura and I did just that, and we then drove over to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Gridley.

Before that, my Camera Totin’ Tuesday went to visit Effie Yeaw in Carmichael. I wanted to photograph deer, but I didn’t see any. I know you’re beginning to be doubtful about deer in the Nature Center! Effie Yeaw is always a great place for a walk since it’s along the American River.

So here are some images from both outings. I’m hopeful that the next time I post, I’ll be able to say our government is open!

An apple a day: Apple Hill, Placerville

An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but it keeps people coming to Apple Hill in Placerville, El Dorado County each year. Everything is “apple” in this area where member growers show and sell their pies, apple fritters, apple doughnuts, etc. The months of October and November are so busy that crafters and more also show their wares.

This was my 4th trip to Apple Hill, so I decided to photograph different things. If you follow this blog, then you know I enjoy shooting close ups, lines and patterns, people, flowers and rust. So, that’s what I’m showing you today.

First close ups and rust.

Now flowers:

Now lines and patterns:

Now people:

Some leftovers:

Betwixt and between: Yolo Bypass

We’re still not moved yet. I can’t say this is the worst move we ever made because the move to this house was equally traumatic. Moving is about the most emotional change you go through. There’s sadness about leaving a home you loved and happiness about building a life in another. Right now, I do feel betwixt and between. Richard and I talk about “home” and have to qualify which one!

In the meantime, I’m able to go on photo outings. This blog is about Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (also known as the Vic Fazio Wildlife Area). I was there a month ago, but each time is different. On this trip, the hunting area was open so Laura and I drove through it. We saw more wildlife than on the regular driving route. Maybe they knew they were safe at the time!

Right now, photography gets me away from a house that’s missing furniture, a house that’s being painted and floors being put in, and the stress of it all. I did pack my camera cases, but not my cameras and gear. Yes, for me photography is great therapy for the moving blues!

Here’s the latest from the Yolo Bypass. Again, my bird book is packed, so no captions!

This and that: Two Mandarin ducks and lunar eclipse

It’s not that the duck and lunar eclipse have anything in common–except for me and my camera. Oh, it could be the fact that one was planned and didn’t turn out well and the other wasn’t planned and turned out successful.

First the Mandarin ducks at Elk Grove Regional Park in Elk Grove. This was a planned outing for 9 a.m. By the time we got there and I drove around to the other side of the lake, the ducks needed to nap. It seems they like swimming in the fog! Those of our group who got there about a little earlier and parked in the right lot, got beautiful shots of them swimming.  I still got some of them napping and standing. And, I did get some fog shots. We get the Tule fog in Sacramento. I love the moodiness of fog.

These are some of the ducks and moody fog images:

For the lunar eclipse, I decided to sleep in if I could; but if I woke up in time, I would just shoot the triple lunar event from my backyard. I woke up at 3:45 a.m. (Darn my internal clock) and tried to go back to sleep. At 4:15 a.m., I got out of bed, gathered my camera gear, set up and opened my back door. Now this is the way it should be done–in PJs, bathrobe, coat, drinking tea and set up right outside my back door! I didn’t get cold!! I did try several lenses before I ended up with my fixed 300mm. These were the best of all the shots:

So there you have it. Planned or unplanned, I had fun!

 

Things are looking up: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and Gray Lodge, part 2

Hooray, the computer is working! Thank you Kevin!! This technical age has made us so dependent on our computers, phones, tablets. I could say that I remember when, but I won’t bore you. I’ll just say that my typewriter never crashed. It may have needed a ribbon change, or a key might stick–but never crashed.

I do love one digital necessity (at least to me) that has not crashed–my DSLR. I’m still learning, and with each outing I get better. Let’s finish up my trip with Laura to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (SWR) and Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. Laura is the best bird spotter. Without her I wouldn’t see the small birds.

After seeing three bald eagles and many hawks at SWR, we ventured to Gray Lodge. Tired from climbing up and down to and from Laura’s sun roof, I resolved to just shoot what I could get from the open window. Fortunately, there are more opportunities for landscapes at Gray Lodge. Again, there were many hawks, but the sun was going down and it was difficult to shoot them as they hid in the trees. Take a look!

 

2018? Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

A crashed computer is not the way to begin the new year. Neither is having to cancel two Toastmaster Club meetings because of illness! The computer crashed last week after a Microsoft Windows update, slowing down my ability to post this blog. Fortunately, a friend came over and fixed it.

The computer wasn’t the only thing sick. I belong to two Toastmaster Clubs and we had to cancel a meeting in each because of illness! So, I’m wondering just where 2018 is taking us. We’re also below normal rain fall. But, it’s supposed to rain this weekend and next.

We need the rain and more water brings more waterfowl to the wildlife areas. Laura and I went up to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (SWR) and Gray Lodge Wildlife Area recently and spotted three bald eagles, lots of hawks and other birds. We had a great day. In this post I’ll show you most of SWR and continue in my next post with the remainder and some of Gray Lodge.

It’s only midway through January, so thinks could get better. The computer could continue working and it may rain a lot through January and February.

The salmon are running: Nimbus Fish Hatchery, Gold River

I have never seen such determination. The Chinook Salmon have returned to spawn, but with most of their natural spawning areas lost by the creation of Folsom and Nimbus Dams, the California Department of Fish and Game created the Nimbus Fish Hatchery to mitigate the problem.

I’ve given you many links to read about this amazing fish hatchery, and I do hope you read more. To summarize, the salmon eggs are gathered at the hatchery, hatched and let loose down river when the fish are old enough. The cycle comes full circle when the mature salmon come to complete their life cycle, trying to find their spawning spot. They operate on such instinct that they are persistent as they jump the ladders.

It is an amazing site to see. Take a look!

 

Going after a big bird: Sandhill Cranes

It’s a yearly expedition–shooting the Sandhill Cranes. They are found in and around the Sacramento Delta. This trip, Laura and I started out at Consumnes River Preserve.  Right away, I learned another valuable lesson: have your camera ready before you leave home! I was going to put the big F/4, 300 mm lens on the D7100 once we got to Consumnes, but as soon as we got off the freeway we saw a flock of Sandhills near the fence. They usually like to be deep in the fields. By the time I got my camera ready–they were deep in the field.

I’m always learning lessons! For me, experience is the best teacher. I’m not crying over not having my camera ready for the best shot of the day. I did manage to get some good images as we went from preserve to preserve.

I was amazed at how many Sandhills there were this year. They were everywhere. In past years they were scarce. The drought may have contributed to that.

It was a fun day, chasing the big birds, finding other wildlife and shooting landscapes. Here are the results.