Lens Artists Challenge #225: Wildlife Close to Home

Stop. Look. Listen. Doing those three things will help you discover the abundance of wildlife you have nearby. You have wildlife in your yard, nearby park, local pond or lake and just about anywhere around you. We often overlook opportunities to photograph these animals because we are so used to having them around us.

We live in a community with beautiful green belts, old oak trees, a creek and the wildlife that enjoys it. I walk my dog, Gem, every morning. He and I are used to seeing a variety of animals each morning. Sometimes we even catch the nocturnal skunks if we’re out early like at daybreak during the summer. I’ve picked him up three times when I’ve seen coyotes. Twice, I’ve seen deer looking around for something to munch on.

Beyond my complex, I’m fortunate to live near parks and nature centers where wildlife abounds.

Let’s start with the pond we have in the middle of our senior complex. It has fish for catch and release, turtles and the usual geese and ducks.

Oh, we must give special attention to our wild turkeys that seem to take over the place only to be daunted by the coyotes. I’ve only seen coyotes while walking my dog and I’m without a camera. You’ll note that the last group of turkeys is not that sharp. That’s because it was taken with my cell phone, which doesn’t have a great camera. I just wanted you to see how they congregate. These turkeys are protected so there’s no thinking of enjoying a Thanksgiving feast with them on the platter.

Moving a little beyond my community, about 15 minutes away (I gage in time not miles!), is Effie Yeaw Nature Center. It’s right on the banks on the American River. It’s nature at its wildest. I’ve been there and seen deer carcasses that have been ravaged by vultures and other animals. On the brighter side, most of the time the deer know that humans are not their predators.

About the same distance, but in a different direction is the Gibson Ranch County Park. It has stables and a pond. On a recent visit, a family was feeding the squirrels. This one was a cutie. And I found a goose that was not a Canada goose.

Further down the interstate, about a total of 30 minutes away, is the Vic Fasio Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. We find mostly birds when we go around the dirt route, and in this drought, they are even a rare sighting. Here are a great egret and blue heron I photographed during our last visit.

From squirrels to birds, wildlife is around us. What non-domestic animals live in your neighborhood or nearby? Do you have feeders to attract wild birds? Look through your archives or take a nature walk with your camera. Maybe some of those flowers have bees looking for nectar with which to make honey? Lizards, praying mantis or spiders may be lurking around the rocks. Oh, how about butterflies? Let us see your wildlife. Remember to link to this post and use the Lens-Artist tag.

I had fun and learned some new things while responding to Sophia’s Exposure challenge. I hope you did too. Next week I’m pleased to tell you that our guest host is Jude of Cornwall in Colors. Look for her challenge.

If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, click here for more info. 

Lens-Artists Challenge #213: Here comes the sun

The sun, it rises and sets every day. We take that for granted, especially photographers. We get up early for the sunrise and go to bed late because we’ve been out capturing the sun set. This week Amy wants us to post our sun images no matter what time of day.

I’ve chosen to begin with a sunrise I captured in Yosemite from first light to almost full sun. I was with my photo buddy Laura and was 6 years younger. We were standing on Swinging Bridge and photographing Yosemite Falls. I don’t know if I’d face that cold again!

During the day, we can use the sun to our advantage. Sunflowers always face the sun to the sun.

This next flower has the sun at its side.

This duck has the sun at its back.

Now for sunset. Years ago I was out with Karen and Marlene and when the sun started setting we looked for a good place to capture the moment. Before we found the pond, we came across this piece of motorized machinery as the sun began its dissent. Do you know what it is?

It was in the same area that we found this beautiful pond we photographed from the road. You can see the sun setting and after it set.

Yes, we can’t live without it, but sometimes the sun makes life difficult. It’s been a hot summer here in Sacramento. I try to do whatever I need to do outdoors before 10 a.m. and the sun is out full force.

Thank you Amy for this enjoyable post. When you reply, please remember to link to her post and use the Lens-Artists tag. We enjoyed your images of motion in response to Patti’s Motion challenge last week. Next week Ann-Christine is hosting our challenge, so look for her post. Have a great week and enjoy the sun!

If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, click here for more info. 

Lens-Artists Challenge #211: What’s your photographic groove?

What’s your photographic groove? What type of photography do you truly enjoy doing?  I didn’t really know the answer to that question when I first began photography, and it took me a while to find it!

I realized my photographic groove when I bought my Fujifilm XT3. I had all sorts of lenses for my Nikon D7100—ultra-wide, macro, telephoto, and the zoom from 18 – 200 mm. I could photograph all I wanted with those lenses.

First, I found I hardly ever used my ultra-wide lens, my landscape shots didn’t warrant it.

The prime F/4 300 mm was used maybe four times a year at wildlife areas.

The macro was used when I was around flowers and insects.

My walk-around lens, the 18 – 200 mm was used the most.

When I switched to the Fuji two years ago, I bought the two lenses that would give me the same range as my walk around Nikon lens. I wanted a third lens, but which one. After trying a couple, thank you Action Camera in Roseville, I settled on a macro lens. I quickly sold my Nikon macro. No need for redundancy. I’ve thought about buying another Fuji lens but why. If I want a telephoto or ultra-wide, I still have my Nikon set up.

I quickly realized how much I was enjoying the macro lens.

So, what’s my photo groove? Macro. I love shooting macro. It’s a challenge that I enjoy even on breezy days. I still go after great landscapes, sunsets, and wildlife. But when it comes down to it, macro Is my photographic groove.

Now that I’ve told you my story, what’s your photo groove? What gives you that sense of accomplishment? Of joy? Of completion? Your challenge this week is to show and tell us about what type of photography you enjoy the most. I used my choice of lenses to find my grove. You may have a different way. If you don’t have a favorite, that’s okay. Show us your wonderful images and tell us about them. Who knows, doing this exercise may help you realize your photo groove.

Thank you guest host Sarah Wilkie of Travel With Me for the exercise of picking out three of our favorite images. And thank you to all of our other wonderful July guest hosts, Aletta, Jez, Andre and Tracy. When you reply to this challenge, please link to this post and use the lens artists tag. I’m looking forward to seeing your groovy photos. As your LAPC team resumes our rotation, Patti will present next week’s challenge. Be looking for her post. In the meantime have fun and stay safe in your travels.

If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, just click this link and join us: https://photobyjohnbo.wordpress.com/about-lens-artists/

Lens-Artists Challenge #207: Seeing Double

When I was a kid, seeing double meant we were crossing our eyes and creating that double vision. Now, that I’m enjoying photography, it means reflections causing an exact duplicate or double of the original image. Our guest host Jez Braithwaite of Photos By Jez, presents us with a challenge to post the reflections we’ve photographed and enjoyed.

And I do enjoy photographing them.

A natural reflection is the capture of birds in water. Here the water is shallow giving a fuzzy double image.

When I see a good building reflection, I just have to photograph it.

Like Jez, I enjoy using a crystal ball at times.

Still water is a great reflective surface for landscapes. Whether bridges and rocks, a lake view or a sunset on a pond, these reflections are beautiful.

Surfaces like a mirror or metal also offer reflections.

And how about California’s illusive rain puddle.

Let’s end with one of my favorite reflections–windows and doors.

It was fun going through my archives and reflecting on seeing double this week–without looking cross eyed!

Thank you Jez for this fun assignment. Please be sure to link your reply to his post. Thank you Aletta for having us do a treasure hunt last week. It was fun to see all the varied treasures from all over the world. Next week our guest host Andre of Solander is thinking of Summer Vibes. Be sure to look for his post. We continue July with:

July 23, Tracy, who posts at Reflections of an Untidy Mind, has chosen Surrealism.

July 30, Sarah Wilkie, who hosts Travel with Me, asks you to share Three Favorite Images.

And I will continue the LAPC rotation on August 6. Until then continue having a safe and fun July.

If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, just click here.

Lens-Artists Challenge #206: Treasures

This challenge given to us by Aletta, of Now At Home, brought me back to 2020, the year of lockdown. There are many things I treasure like family, friends, health and our pets. But in 2020 one thing was clear, I truly treasured my weekly photo outings. My senior photo buddies and I created a photo pod and went out in our cars (some separate and some together), met at a designated outdoor spot and spent a couple of hours enjoying photography. Later we would have lunch outdoors (when restaurants opened to outdoor service)–a perfect ending to a brief respite.

I’m showing you some images from my 2020 calendar. I’m sure a lot of these are repeats, but I treasure each and every one of them. If it weren’t for photography, I would have been clawing at my front door, screaming “Let me out!”

Fortunately, my front door doesn’t have any claw marks thanks to photography and friends!

Thank you for all the great interpretations of last week’s challenge “The eyes have it.” I enjoyed them all. When you respond to Aletta’s challenge, please remember to link to her post and use the Lens-Artists tag. Next week Jez Braithwaite of Photos by Jez is hosting Seeing Double so be on the lookout for his post.

July will continue with:

July 16, Andre of My Blog–Solaner is thinking about Summer Vibes.

July 23, Tracy, who posts at Reflections of an Untidy Mind, has chosen Surrealism.

July 30, Sarah Wilkie, who hosts Travel with Me, asks you to share Three Favourite Images.

I’ll be back in August with “What’s your groove?” Until then enjoy your summer and stay safe.

 If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, just click this link and join us: https://photobyjohnbo.wordpress.com/about-lens-artists/

Lens-Artists Challenge #197: The Rule of Thirds

Not only haven’t I taken a photography class, I tend not to follow rules when it comes to photography. I just go with what looks good to me. I think it helps that I spent 20 years in business with a graphic artist (I was the writer.) and learned the basics of doing a flyer layout: have an odd number of graphics, avoid having text run down the center of the page (tunnel vision), and spread your text around the page.

This week Tina introduces us to the Rule of Thirds. The reason for this rule is basic–it helps us compose pictures that are pleasing to the eye, avoiding symmetry. But sometimes it’s better to have an image that is almost symmetrical or totally symmetrical.

Let’s see what I did in 1918.

Here are some floral examples. One is definitely centered. Although the second flower is centered, the water drop is not and it is the focal point. The last one is not centered, taking up 2/3 of the frame.

Next let’s look at some wildlife. The Canada goose in the left side of the image, giving it room to fly away. The small burrowing owl is centered but looking toward the left side of the frame. They are so small that a good crop was needed to show detail.

Landscapes are the most fun. In the first image, a white boat starts out in the lower left of the picture. You know where it is going! The second image starts out in the lower right corner with the road that takes you through the mid section and back to the right. The third is symmetrical taking us right up to and through the gate.

Sunsets can also be asymmetrical.

Portraits can also be off center. I did ask her parents permission to photograph her. I think by the way she posed, she’s had her picture taken before! Notice there’s a little room to her left.

So, yes, I break rules, but I sometimes follow them. It all comes down to what looks good to me!

Thank you Tina for giving us the nudge to look at how we compose and whether we can do anything different. When you post your reply to this challenge be sure to link to Tina’s original post and use the Lens Artists tag. Next week Patti will lead us next week with a Light and Shadow challenge.

 If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, just click this link and join us: https://photobyjohnbo.wordpress.com/about-lens-artists/

Decision: The Nesting Tree

To buy or not to buy! To use or not to use! That’s my dilemma!! I’ll start at the beginning. For wildlife photography, I’ve been using an old, used prime F/4 300 mm lens on my Nikon D7100. It’s a bit heavy, hard for me to hold steady and the Nikon is not that good in low light. I finally decided to buy a used Fuji 100 – 400 mm lens for, of course, my Fuji XT3. It worked great and was easy for me to hold steady, but the barrel was tight when I zoomed. It’s in the return process. Question: should I get another one? Or just keep using the Nikon set up?

Here are some images from the Fuji set up taken at what I call the nesting tree in nearby Lincoln.

Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons nest each year in these trees. It’s a treat to sit and watch the activity. They fly off and bring back food and nesting materials to the nest. These next pictures were taken with the Nikon set up. Since I photographed mostly egrets on my previous visit, I was trying to photograph more of the herons. The trees are not close and I had to do a lot of cropping with these pictures for both set ups.

Do you see much difference? Both sets were processed in Lightroom and Topaz Sharpener AI. There is the handling ease, but that comes with about a $1,500. cost for a good used lens. I don’t think I need a new one because I don’t do that much wildlife photography.

So that’s my decision and dilemma! What do you think I should do?

Oh, if you want to see amazing Great Blue Heron Photography visit Babsje’s blog for wonderful stories and images. She is totally dedicated to the herons.

Oh no, birds again: Yolo Bypass Wildlife area

Let’s hope you see more birds once I get my new Fuji 100 – 400 mm lens. To do most wildlife photography, I’ve been using my Nikon D7100 and an old metal F/4 300 mm prime lens. It was almost impossible for me to hold until Ray made me a short monopod that helps hold the camera and lens steady. The other problem is the Nikon itself. It’s not very good in low light. So photographing in cloudy and overcast days was difficult.

So, I finally decided to try the Fuji lens which I hope is lighter. It’s coming tomorrow. Meanwhile, Laura and I recently went to our local wildlife area in Yolo County, just across from Old Sacramento. The Yolo Bypass is a favorite for local photographers.

I was lucky to get a series of a great egret hunting for what ended up being a cricket, beetle or some other bug.

There were also some other birds.

And then two cormorants.

Get ready and fly.

I’m not sure what bird this is but….

And here are some landscapes taken with my Fuji.

Now, I’m anxious to test out my new lens, but we will have to wait!

Lens Artists Challenge #181: Double Dipping

This week Tina encourages us to share photos from other challenges in which we participate or places in which we post. I’m typically not one for taking part in challenges except of course for LAPC. For the last year and a half, I have waited, with joy and anticipation, until 9 a.m. PST for the latest LAPC challenge to be posted. Then I would formulate my response and go through my archives. This was an enjoyable experience as I revisited former outings, bringing back fond memories.

And there I stay. You can call me one-challenge-Anne! But I do post in a few other places. First is the juried competition club Sierra Camera Club. I have gain so much knowledge by having my photos judged and critiqued. I’ve also found critiques of fellow members’ photos invaluable. Here are some of my past entries. With each entry, I choose a picture that will give me feedback in different areas.

The Sierra Camera Club is a member of the Photographic Society of America which I also joined. I quickly joined one of their Projected Image Division groups (PID). Each month we upload two images to be critiqued by the group members. I used the knowledge gained in the Sierra Camera Club to good use while looking at and critiquing the other group members’ photos. It’s all a wonderful learning experience. Here are some of my entries.

And finally, my own group of seniors, Camera Totin’ Days. We go out once a week, take it easy, enjoy shooting our photographs and then eat lunch. Here are some images from our outings.

Now that John, Sophia and I are joining the Lens-Artists team, I’m looking forward to some new experiences.  Patti will be leading our next challenge so be sure to visit her Pilotfish blog or to watch for her post in the Lens-Artists Reader section.

Lens-Artists Challenge #145: Getting to Know You

“…anything that has captured your attention, won your affection and taught you a thing or two.” writes Priscilla of scillagrace in her challenge blog post! I gave this a good amount of thought. A lot of people, places and things all capture my attention, teach me and win my affection, but one thing has brought it all to me–photography.

I remember being at a turning point in my life as I was giving up my business. You know when to call it quits when technology forces you into something you don’t like. My unwanted tech challenge was social media marketing. I just didn’t want to play the new copywriting game. But what could I do to fill the void?

After a lot of thinking, I chose photography. I enjoyed it as a returning student in my 40s with my semester in Photo 1. All journalism students had to take it and all the photography students had to take Journalism 1. But picking it up again 30 years later, going from a manual film camera to a digital SLR was challenging, fun and wonderful.

My adventure introduced me to amazing people. Photographers are willing to help a newbie. And many of them have become my dear friends. I’ve joined the Sierra Camera Club where you enter photos into a monthly juried competition. I didn’t and still don’t care about the scoring, I wanted to learn. I felt that my ability had reached a plateau. Through this group, I’ve learned how to process whites, that pictures should tell a story and composition (cropping) tips.

By going out with my photo buddies, I’ve also learned to appreciate what is around me like the beautiful roses in my yard, animals in their natural habitat and the beauty of trees and their shadows.

I also entered the In Focus Competition, in Columbia State Park, along with my friend Sandy who lives in Sonora. Two of my entries made it “on the wall,” meaning they were accepted. The water droplet made it to the final table, but didn’t win. That was an experience. Both Sandy and I were elated just to be on “the wall.”

I see things differently when I carry my camera, I’m more aware of my surroundings and enjoy being with other photographers. So I guess you would agree that photography has captured my attention, won my affection and taught me a thing or two