Lens Artists Challenge #175: Follow Your Bliss

Bliss is what we all chase. It’s that something that relaxes, yet drives us to accomplish. It’s what we enjoy as a participant or spectator. This week, Lindy Low LeCoq encourages us to “show us your sense of wonder and excitement. Whether it be one activity that is your passion, or many different interests you follow, this is a wide-open opportunity to showcase how you “follow your bliss.”

One thing that comes to mind for me is music. I can’t sing, follow the beat or play an instrument. But music sooths my soul. I listen to both words and melody. One place I used to totally enjoy was the Sacrament Music Festival. Richard and I would work it every year, and the music was fantastic. Our favorites were Tom Rigney and Flambeau, who would play anything from zydeco to rock and roll, and Dave Bennett, whose clarinet rivaled Benny Goodman’s and his piano playing was as close to Jerry Lee Lewis as you could get. I’m sad that they discontinued it.

Even as I was enjoying music, I was also following my bliss for photography. When the pandemic and lockdown hit, photography was my outlet. Richard and I went for rides for the first few months of lockdown, going in search of snow and the California Poppy.

Soon my photo buddies formed a photo pod and went out once a week. One outing was to the WPA Rock Garden in William Land Park.

Another was to the California State World Peace Capitol Rose Garden in Sacramento.

And of course there are my friends who share in my love for photography. I’m dedicating this post to my friend Jean Armstrong who passed away this month after a short fight with brain cancer. She and I enjoyed going on day outings and, because she drove, we’d end up finding some sort of water. She loved the lakes and ocean. Here are two from our last outing together in January this year. We went to Port Costa (near the bay of course).

Thank you Lindy for reminding me to continue to follow my bliss. It’s so important especially now.

Lens-Artist Challenge #132: A quiet moment

This is my first Post for the Lens-Artist group. Please let me know if I’m doing it wrong!! Seriously, tell me. Patti sent out a challenge of A Quiet Moment. Photography is how I relax, whether it’s at a busy festival or a relaxing drive to who knows where.

Here are a few of my captures during quiet moments. I love going to wildlife areas. In January, my friend and I went to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, drove the route a couple of times. On the way, I got this shot of the Sutter Buttes, a small mountain range.

We ended up at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area for this amazing sunset.

In February we ventured out to capture almond blossoms in Capay Valley.

In April I went out in search of the wonderful California Poppy. I found a hillside near Jackson.

May brought me to the WPA Rock Garden. I love that place. If there’s no breeze, it’s excellent for macro work.

So, these are some of my outings that provided me with quiet moments! Thanks for allowing to post in this group.

Wearing suspenders and a belt: WPA Rock Garden

I love macro photography! I love the WPA Rock Garden in Land Park, Sacramento! But, do I love making mistakes? Not really, but I love learning from them.

The Rock Garden is an excellent place for macro photography so I brought my D7100 and macro lens. I also wanted to see how well the Fujifilm XT3 and its 55 – 200 mm lens would do close ups. My Nikon and 18 – 200 lens does close up photography beautifully.

First, I found out that my Fuji, like my Nikon, puts itself in various modes without telling me. It put itself in a different focus mode, making it difficult to focus. One mistake solved and learned from. Watch those fingers!

I saw macro opportunities and started shooting with my D7100 and macro lens. Best to do it while the breeze is down. Here’s the result:

Still wanting to use the Fuji, I wandered over to the small Land Park lake and saw lotus buds and leaves in the water. Yes! we would soon have flowers to capture in our cameras. Here’s where the second mistake occurred. I was having a difficult time shooting on manual with the Fuji and didn’t realize until I got home, loaded my pictures into the computer, and saw them on my monitor, that the images were super noisy. Looking at the data, I saw that some of them were shot at 12,000 ISO in sunlight! Did I mistake the ISO ring for the shutter ring? What did I do wrong? This was to be solved during my next Fuji outing! Here are some images shot with the Fuji:

Yesterday, I took pictures of a couple, Carol and Paul, I wrote about in for our community newsletter. I photographed them with the Fuji and the 18 -55 mm lens. They were beautiful. The shots and the couple!

So, lessons were learned. And, practice makes perfect as you’ll see in my next post.

Happy Birthday to me! WPA Rock Garden, Sacramento

I remember my Mom was excited to reach her 65th birthday because she thought she’d not make it. I don’t know why, but when that day came, I made her a nice party. She lived to make it to her 87th birthday. So here I am doing this post on my 76th birthday.

It’s fitting that this is on the WPA Rock Garden, in Sacramento, because I do love shooting macro. And, I’m happy that I can still bend down and get up to take a picture of a tiny flower or bug. However, age does have its restrictions like no more hiking up mountains, etc. Carrying heavy equipment is difficult too. I often say that I started photography 20 years too late!

I got my first camera, Nikon d3100, in June of 2012, didn’t know what ISO was, didn’t understand the exposure triangle and shot on auto and JPEG for a while. This journey has been fantastic. I’ve learned a great deal and my photography has progressed.

I recently looked through the photo book I made about our cross-country trip in 2013. After looking at the photos, I told Richard we needed to go again because I can take better pictures now! He refused!! However, they are good enough to jog a memory.

So here I am, 76 and loving it. My chosen hobby fills my soul and writing for my community’s monthly newsletter keeps me in touch with my original passion.

Enjoy the macros and close up images from the Rock Garden.

Comfort food needed: Sacramento Zoo & WPA Rock Garden

I’m still not moved. I’m still frustrated. I need comfort food. I went to the Sacramento Zoo. I love that place and haven’t been there since January. You never know what the animals will be doing.

One of the snow leopards was pacing in the enclosure, the mighty lions were asleep on top of their new platforms, the wood ducks were hiding, the new flamingo babies were finally placed with the grown ups, the orangutans were hiding, the wolf guenon exhibit and tiger exhibits were closed, the red river hog babies are almost full grown and the wallabies were finally letting me take good pictures. A gal can miss a lot in a few months!

Yes, the animals put me in a better mood, so did one young lady destined for stardom. I took her picture with her mom’s permission.

After the zoo, we went to shoot at the WPA Rock Garden for a few minutes. It was great to get out with my camera and away from the move.

Finally got it!: WPA Rock Garden, Sacramento

I am tenacious and never give up. I went back to the WPA Rock Garden in William Land Park, Sacramento with my macro lens for more practice. Finally, I now understand my lens and how to shoot macro.

This was my second time shooting there, and there were new flowers and small critters to find. The first time, I learned that I needed a higher ISO to get a faster shutter speed to capture the close up detail. This time I learned that I also needed to narrow my aperture (use a higher F stop) to get less of a shallow depth of field.

Now I’m ready to go back just to enjoy the shoot. Tenacity is a great trait, but offers little relaxation.

I also experimented with what else I could shoot with my 105 Macro Lens. Enjoy the pictures! (Captions not necessary!)

Macro time: WPA Rock Garden, William Land Park, Sacramento

If it weren’t for a friend’s gentle push, I would have gone back to the car and swapped out my macro lens for my walk around lens. I’m so glad she persuaded me to use the macro. It’s a great lens: 105 mm, 2.8, Sigma; and I hardly use it because there’s always a slight breeze.

Karen taught me to increase my ISO so I could shoot at a faster shutter speed, and I got amazing results. I’ll be using that lens more because I do love macro photography. Although the WPA Rock Garden is a small area, we were shooting for about 2 hours!

This was my last time out shooting because we needed to prepare for our trip to Glacier National Park. Right now I’m exhausted. We packed the trailer today, except for refrigerated food in triple digits. I did try to do a lot during the morning. This is our first vacation since our 2013 cross country trip. We’re also going to be in Idaho for the solar eclipse, and in a great vantage spot. We’ll be attaching my D3100 to a small telescope, so wish me luck. I have a couple of days to practice. Richard will be using his sun scope to capture images.

After that, we’ll head into Oregon to visit my older granddaughter. I’m so looking forward to this trip. And, yes, I’m bringing my macro lens with me.

Images from the WPA Rock Garden.