Lens-Artists Challenge #115: Inspiration

It’s important for us to be inspired all the time. Inspiration is what makes us get up in the morning, especially in this COVID year. Nature truly inspires me to get out with my camera. Nature doesn’t understand pandemics, politics, or other things that affect us humans emotionally. It just goes through its cycles and begs us to visit. Thank you Tina for creating this Lens-Artist challenge. It had me thinking positively.

So, I went through this year’s images to find nature’s inspiring moments. Although there are a lot less then in years past, there were enough to keep me inspired!

A dark, chilly and gloomy day doesn’t seem to be a day to visit the Sacramento Delta, but we did. The Sacramento river is always nice to visit. On this overcast day, the river was quiet, giving us beautiful reflections.

We also made our yearly visit to Yolo County’s almond orchards while the trees were blooming. There were beautiful skies that day. How inspired can you get!

Early on in the lockdown, Richard and I escaped to the snow. He wanted to see whether his favorite star gazing area was snowed in. This is shot on the road near Blue Canyon. I love that I can visit, but don’t have to live in snow!

And finally, I have my first rose in my garden and an image of a lovely lotus blossom. The lotus aren’t with us very long, but they are beautiful. My rose garden had a tough time this year with the extreme heat, but they are still blooming.

I’m hoping that next year I’ll be inspired by more of nature’s wonders. Thanks again Tina!

Yolo Art & Ag: The CR25 Ranch

Fortunately I’m getting used to driving the various county roads in the rural areas of Yolo County. I was alone on this July expedition to the CR25 Ranch in Esparto, but remembered some of the roads from last month’s journey when Marlene road with me. The CR25 Ranch is located on the County Road 25!

I like getting out into fresh air and drive around the countryside. And, I’m lucky that this scenery is a little more than an hour away. This ranch is not as large as some of the others I’ve been to, but there was enough to keep me busy for 1 1/2 hours.

This horse was alone in a pasture. He was midway, but my Fuji camera with lens extended to the full 200 mm was able to capture him in focus. I cropped him in Lightroom. Here’s the result.

Here are some landscapes of the ranch, showing pastures and barns.

This ranch may have been small, but it did have its share of “ranch art!”

A few of the cows came down from mid-pasture to get some water. One of them stood out. Was he trying to stick his tongue out at me. Also, it was good that it wasn’t a frosty winter day or else that tongue would have stuck to the watering trough.

I’m enjoying the new camera and still learning more about its capabilities. It does more than I’ll ever use! Where will Yolo Arts take us this month?

Lens-Artist Challenge #109: Under The Sun

I’m not fond of waking up in the dark to catch the golden hour in the morning or going to bed late in the summer to catch the evening blue and golden hours. So that leaves me mostly under the mid morning sun for most of my photo outings. No, I’m not going to post all my photos taken under the sun, just the ones that resonated with me when I read Amy’s challenge for the week.

There have been a few times when the timing was right on for me. One was at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert, California. We caught the afternoon golden hour when the sun cast a beautiful glow on plants and animals. We were vacationing with my cousins in December 2016 . They are the couple walking out of the oasis.

The next set of images were taken during my favorite time of day, mid afternoon sun! (It’s not really!) My friend who lives in Sun City, Lincoln brought me to a tree where herons and egrets and other birds nested. I didn’t have my long lens with me, so I returned on my day to pick up my grandkids from school. My kids also live in Lincoln. Again, I seem to use the opportunity rather than make the opportunity! I’ve named this tree “The Nesting Tree,” and have brought other photo buddies to shoot there. Taken April, 2019, you can see the sun casting shadows on the birds bodies and feathers.

This last set was taken during a Yolo Art & Ag outing to Capay Valley Ranches in February, 2019. Every summer, Yolo Art invites artists and photographers to various ranches, farms and orchards to record country life. We were there mid morning (usually from 9 to 11 a.m.) Here, again, the sun created beautiful shadows.

While I may not get up before dawn, I still enjoy getting out in the sunshine. Thank you Amy for this great challenge.

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!

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!

Getting back into the groove: Sunflowers

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since July 2nd. Has life been that busy for me? I didn’t think so! Now, with this post, I hope to get back in the posting groove. I may not have been posting, but I’ve been shooting.

And, since this is about the progression of my photographic journey, I’m proud to say that I now close out of most article-type tutorials because I know the information. So this means I need to focus on post processing. I keep saying that, but I truly need to carry through with it. I’m competent with Lightroom, but Photoshop is still a mystery. I’ll have to just make the time and get into it. Maybe that will take my photography to the next level.

But, on to the sunflowers, or sunnies, as we Sacramento photographers call them. The images in this post are from two outings. These sunnies were located near the small town of Yolo in Yolo County. Photo buddy Karen was our guide for both trips. One is in the morning and the other was at sundown. Of course, when I try to catch a sunset, there are no clouds! However, the flowers had that golden light glow.

Enjoy this post. There will be more!

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!

Ya gotta love them: Sunflowers, Yolo County

I got my sought after shot this year–a sunflower field so dense that when you shot over the top, all you can see is yellow. Thank you Karen A. for scoping the fields out. And thanks to a step ladder! Yes, I’m sort–too short to have gotten the image without a little help.

I remember in past years going crazy to find sunflower fields, only to be there too early or too late. This year things were different in Yolo County.

I’ll make this a short post so you can see them. Oh, what did I learn? Patience prevails and always have a step ladder in your car trunk!

Hope these make you smile!

 

You never know what you’ll find: The Sutter Buttes

Tuesdays may be a designated day, but you never know where we’ll end up. We decided to drive around the Sutter Buttes. Formerly known as the Marysville Buttes, this small mountain range is a small circular complex of eroded volcanic lava domes that reside in the flat plains of Sutter County. And, you never know what you’ll come across when you journey around them.

The first stop was Mary’s Chapel. This is a sweet, small chapel and cemetery in Yolo County. It was interesting to walk through and read the head stones. The chapel was closed, but is still used sometimes.

I did this drive a couple of years ago with Laura and we found a farm with unique animals. That farm is still there. This time two other women were amazed. The most curious animal was one that looked like a donkey/zebra! We didn’t know what to call it!

More driving. We found the almond trees had almost lost their blooms and color. The hillsides were deep green and the sky partly cloudy. We took a tour of Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, but didn’t open a window. The mosquitoes were so thick; but, fortunately, Karen’s car window on the passenger side was fairly clean. We did end up catching a sunset near an almond orchard–the perfect end to a fun, adventurous day.

 

 

 

Rising from the ashes: The Woodland Opera House

We were so fortunate to be invited to tour the Woodland Opera House recently. In fact, the tour was given by the Board President and fellow photographer Karen Alexander. With me, Marlene and Rita in attendance, she began our tour with a history lesson.

Built in 1885, the opera house was the first of its kind to serve the Sacramento Valley. However in 1892 a fire destroyed the building which was rebuilt in 1895/1896, using materials from the original structure. The Opera House flourished until 1913 when, with declining ticket sales, the theater closed. It remained unused for almost 60 years. In 1971 it was purchased by the Yolo County Historical Society, declared a state historic park in 1976 and was deeded to the State of California in 1980. Restoration work continued, and the Opera House reopened in 1989.

Today it is a California Historical Landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. And, it is active, holding productions from September to June, running a summer youth theater camp and a Young People’s Theater Program that runs throughout the year. They also provide school day low cost ticket prices for students for current productions.

As we continued our tour, Karen explained how they tried to use original furniture and seating during the restoration. This resulted in a beautiful, small theater where there are no bad seats. Our backstage tour brought us down to the green room where actors gather when not on stage. Dressing rooms were located on either side of the large room. Karen also explained how the lighting and staging was done.

It was an amazing few hours. And, it was amazing how this opera house rose from the ashes twice–literately and figuratively. Take a look!