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Sacramento Zoo Visit Highlights

Have you ever done a blog and saved it as a draft and then posted something else?  And then, your next blog is more current and it posts…well. I have some photos to share of our local animal talent!

My zoo visit was last year before the holidays, thus the 2011 on my photos–but decided to share them anyway.  Hope you enjoy the critter visit:)

Last year, my staff gave me a membership to the Sacramento Zoo–seemed time to visit once again.  Was a beautiful, but colder day here–highs in the low 50s, but plenty of sunshine!

The Sacramento Zoo has a wonderful crew of dedicated docents and hosts events through out the year.  Unbeknownst to me–today was an event–where special treats were made and given to the animals.  Remember now the joys and challenges of shooting through plexiglass and wire mesh!

Here are some of my views from today…

Anteater–they are much bigger than I ever remembered!

Walking around...

Next door–there was a lonely Spotted Hyena that spent much of the time pacing back and forth.

Hanging out

The old adage..of let sleeping dogs lie–think that also applies to napping cats, such as this beautiful Snow Leopard relaxing away on top of a rock!

Holiday Berries behind!

Right across from the “cats” was an enclosure with some very friendly River Otters.  Friendly would not have been something I would aquaint with otters–but they knew how to ham it up for sure!

Hi there!

For anyone who has dogs…you know those smudges on your car windows?

Favorite Spot--will come back here!

About ready for a nap!

Was fortunate that the giraffes came out for a bit on nuzzling together.

A Tender Moment

More Visits with the Giraffes!  It is not uncommon to visit and they don’t even come out of there barn.  Certainly depends on the weather and what special treat are being presented!

Not sure why I am looking at you...but here is my wondrous face and neck!

Some friends with wings and feathers…


Curled up tight

Disagreement About Something!

Challenge with these two…was the backlighting.  Chose to blow out the background, so their wonderful colors could be viewed.

Awww, so cute!

A new use for your old phone books–probably one you never thought of…for these Hornbills, the phone book was filled with crunchy bugs.  They had fun “flipping through the pages” and were rewarded with a tasty morsel. Bugs and more bugs…pages and pages with “snacks” hiding out!  Check to see if your local zoo can use your old phone books!

I'll Have One of Those!

This was one of my favorites…his “whooping” and calls announced his presence long before he was in sight.  Spent most of the time swinging through the cage and putting on quite a show.

Who's Making All the Noise?

Some holiday cheer for the Red Pandas…so cute!

Hmm...a little holiday snack!

Framing a bit…

In the Center

Just remember there are many options to support projects we believe in and hope it will transcend time .  In my opinion, we need to look and identify needs now that we can impact and ensure they will be enjoyed and last for may centuries to come.

Is there a smaller zoo  or animal wildlife refuge area in or near your town or county?  The might be a great place to start what your animals need for comfort and growth.  Treat Days, Adoption–providing approved snacks and goodies.  Ask the merchants and store owners,, they should be able to offer you time and means for supporting their animal population!



I am one of those few folks that are actually happy to give up an hour in the spring–thrilled for more daylight!

Northern California is severely lacking in rain and we had some in the forecast today…sadly, to no avail as of 5:30 p.m.  What we got was a nice cloudy and overcast sky.  Perfect for catching some seasonal blooms at the Carmichael Botanical Garden.  So, off I went!

In addition to the Tulip blooms, the trees had lovely blossoms as well.  For this, I dusted off my macro 60mm lens (literally!) and caught some different views.  Must say, it has been a long time since I have tried to manual focus on any lens, except for my Lensbaby optics!

What is spring without budding blossoms?  Hopeful these will survive the week of predicted rain!

This is my favorite image from today…

Hope your spring is full of blooms and you enjoy each blossom!

Rooster Hokey Pokey and Attitudes!

Fair Oaks is a small town nestled between Carmichael and Citrus Heights, near Sacramento, CA.  The “Town Square” is a small park with local businesses surrounding two sides.  What is most unusual are the feathered friends that roam through out the entire town.  Roosters and Hens peck at the grass and root in the shrubbery and come near people–obviously, well fed!

I am sure many of you remember the song, “The Hokey Pokey”…one of those tunes that can get stuck in your head?  What I noticed as I was processing my numerous rooster shots was they were “doing the Hokey Pokey!”  So here goes a few views of these talented roosters and hens!

You put your Right Foot out!

What goes out…come in…

You put your right foot in!

And now, for the left…

You put your left foot out!

And you shake it all about!

You put your head in!

I must admit…did not capture anymore obvious views to the song…but I did notice some serious attitude as I got a little closer views. Some “head shots” with attitude and feeling…


Snacking on grass

I'm talkin' to you!

Not in the mood!

Eye to eye!

Black and White Hen

This one, just seemed a bit wiser and older–reminded me of a “wise soul!”

Wise old soul

Any identifications are welcome!  Of course, I “Googled” roosters and found a few identifications via Wikipedia…but none that looked familiar.  I was surprised to see that “Fair Oaks Roosters” has a Facebook page…a non profit, so of course, I “liked” them–happy to help:)

Hope your day is wonderful!

Return to Mono

Surrounding Hills

If you are tired of visiting Mono Lake through my blog, I understand.  Yes, this is the third post (in a row)…you may have guessed it–I am hooked on this amazing wonder.  Think only additional visits might cure me–happy to try again!

Life lessons can be easy or hard to learn.  My personal belief is that the harder ones to learn are those we remember.  I sure as heck hope so.  Because since my last post, I realized I shot every single photo from December 16-31 in jpeg–ONLY on my D300s.  Son of a gun.  How did I not figure it out sooner?  Didn’t try to view a different white balance on a photo I already shot and was making very few changes in Lightroom 3.

I am now taking a Photoshop course through BetterPhoto.com which gave me enough confidence to finally try to process my images in Photoshop…only to realize ALL my pics were jpeg, which is why I couldn’t get them to open in Adobe Camera Raw.  Originally, I figured I must have changed my setting by accident when I shot sunrise.  Figured one day was only in jpeg.  Nope–now recall the last day of work before vacation, I went to take a photo and didn’t want to waste space with RAW that I wouldn’t use.  That one moment has cost me much in opportunities with editing my trip.  BUT, I better remember to check my settings every time I put it away and pull it out of my camera bag. #lessonlearned  Must say, this on-line course is really well-organized.  Lewis Kemper is the instructor, it is a privilege to have a local accomplished photographer such as he!

So, I was viewing my photos with a new lens today and happened to find a few more worth sharing.  Think the threatening weather added much to the clouds and saturation to the colors.  Really so much more than I managed to capture.  Next time, I sure as hell will have my camera setting in Raw and not jpeg!

A few views before sunset at South Tufa, Mono Lake…

Water's Edge

Further Back

Across the Way

Lighting the Way

Mountain Glory

Tufa Window

As sunset begins the color change–many folks will leave and miss the real light show that begins when the golden hour starts.  30 minutes after sunset, in my limited experience is well worth staying for.

First changes

Another view from sunrise the next morning…

Early Sunrise


Of course I now realize I should have used my (c) from 2011 instead of 2012–another lesson for future learning:)



Mono Lake Revisited…again!

Well, yes–my last post was on Mono Lake–but I visited again and witnessed the most amazing sunset and sunrise moments in my life.

I do know that I need to do more research on what conditions make for a more vivid color show at sunset and sunrise…my hunch is that storm clouds and conditions calling for weather changes do make a huge difference!

Just over a week passed from the photos I took at Mono Lake the previous week, to these views.  It is a common spot to find photographers and many famous artists have captured the glory of this locale. I was joined by about 4 serious photographers on this night. The scene constantly changes with various flashes of color and the changes in the clouds.  There is not a single place in the 360 degree view that is not worthy of remembering. A good example–is watching a professional photographer from the Bay Area running with his tripod from one spot to another.  That is how much you want to be able to capture every moment. Here are a few of the more memorable shots from an amazing sunset session.

Changing Flashes

All glowing

Western View

Finishing off the show was the most fire ball of light on the Western horizon…

Last fire light

Following this show of light, I was on such a “high” in total amazement of what I had witnessed over the course of less than an hour.  Decided if there is such a thing as “Photographers’ High” I had the pleasure of experiencing it. Was wide awake until well after midnight and had my alarm set for sunrise.

Didn’t think I could see anything as wonderful as the night before–however, I was not disappointed by any stretch of the imagination by a spectacular sunrise.

First light

Calm waters

Spectacular reflections

Space Age View

Distant colors

The last part of the extraordinary sunrise is when the first rays of the sun hit the highest peak. The color is in fact red and glows for a few minutes. For the true meaning of the art of photography that is “all about the light” this is one of the few times it is so visible. After a few minutes, the color of the sierra peak returns to the normal wonderful color–but still you can remember what it looked like!

Golden Hour Moment

So thankful this wonderful treasure is no longer on the closure list for California State Parks. To be a supporter, you can join the Mono Lake Committee–it is over 16,000 members strong. I was able to visit the information center and bookstore, located in Lee Vining and will now proudly be sporting a “Long Live…Mono Lake” on my license.  www.monolake.org

My heartfelt thanks to all of the individuals that have dedicated their time and resources to keep this fabulous place for many generations to come!

Winter at Mono Lake

In order to celebrate the holidays with my family, I had to get to Southern California from Sacramento.  Although the Sacramento International Airport does have a brilliant new terminal with both Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue flying out of it–it took me 1.5 hours to get through security and to the gate, when I flew Veteran’s Day weekend.  This didn’t include having to park a car and take a tram.  So–let’s say, 2 hours to get to the gate, 1.5 hour flight–wait for baggage and get a rental car another hour easily–that is 4.5 hours.  So, I decided to drive:)  Renting a big car in LA–SUV, because I can’t stand having little bitty car is another expense I saved driving!

The most direct route is I-5 and I could make it in about 5 hours.  Easy…and very boring.

Last weekend, I saw a Tweet that said that Highway 120 was open. This is a highway that connects Yosemite National Park from the Valley at 4000 feet through Tioga Pass at 9953 feet to Highway 395.  Being able to access the High Country in Yosemite was inviting.  Plus, another benefit of driving Highway 395 is that I would have to go right past Mono Lake.  Since my destination was LA–I would also have to go through Lone Pine, which is the base of Whitney Portals and Alabama Hills.  That will be another post…

So, instead of taking 361 miles via I-5, I saw a sign as I reached highway 395 that said Los Angeles 399 miles–that was after I had already gone over 100 miles to get there. Reached my brother’s house with 471.7 showing on the mileage.

Mono Lake State Park was slated for closure, but fortunately came off the list a short while back!

Lee Vining is the town closest to the South Tufa viewing area.  This was my first winter visit, and not my last for sure!

My first shots are from sunset on Tuesday. Not much color to speak of and very few clouds in the sky to be found–but still such beauty and captivating!

Parking Lot View

Seeing double?

Off in the distance

The temperature on Wednesday morning as I drove back to get sunrise shots was 12 degrees. No wind, but quite chilly!  My first attempt at night photography…

In between night and day!

Mellow Morning

Winter Grass

Helpful headlights

Have a wonderful holiday season–may it be filled with joy, friends, and family–plus your camera!

Lensbaby Fun!

Haven’t really dedicated much time for my Lensbaby lately, so this week made a point of doing just that.

Visited the American River Parkway and caught a few views…

Road less traveled

In California, we are falling into Winter and signs are everywhere…

Piles of leaves

A Winter Tree with a majestic blue sky background

Empty Tree

Visited Old Town Sacramento this week and switched to my Composer with Double Glass and a Star Aperture.  This aperture makes single points of light into a “star” which seemed fitting for the holidays.  Yes, I do know too much of one thing can be overkill, but let’s just say I had a happy reunion with my Lensbaby!

One of my favorite aspects is how the mundane can be turned into magic…a view from the passenger side.


This is just the lights from cars on Interstate 80…kinda fun view, IMHO!

Actually a view from inside Joe's Crab Shack

Any point of lights will shift with this aperture.

A view from an Old Town window…

Reflecting Light

One last view of a more traditional source!

A bit in Focus

Hope your holidays are merry and bright and filled with those you love!

Fall Finds in Apple Hill

Just about an hour up the hill from Sacramento lies many apple orchards and vineyards, fondly known as “Apple Hill.”  Was thrilled to find some latent fall colors on a trip just before Thanksgiving.

Still needs time to change

Love to take the back roads and enjoy the views…stopped by to catch this row of colors…managed to get it without trespassing–so would have liked a closer view, but had to respect the gate. Figured, I wouldn’t want folks traipsing down my driveway.

In a line

Must confess–not a pano, just cropped from the original view…

Darn long driveway

This is the invitation to stop and take a moment to relax and enjoy!

Table for Four

Also stopped at Boeger Vineyard to enjoy their grounds. Lovely views of the last of fall.

Remnants of rain

The last few

Many folks just come to picnic and enjoy the views.


Love the sense of humor…although I didn’t see any puppies ready to be thrust upon unsuspecting parents. Maybe they are in the back?

Sign me up!

Looking forward already to the blossoms of spring!

Winter Frolic at Lake Tahoe

Last weekend had the wonderful trip to the North shore of Lake Tahoe, at Incline Village. In order to get there from Sacramento, there are a few mountain passes–there were chain requirements as I looked at the forecast–but decided to brave the elements. My new Ford Escape 4WD did great–no chains were needed!

With snowy passes, I hoped a shed I had photographed 6 years ago would still be standing–and it was!  You need to know where to look for it, as it is nestled in the trees and a bit off the road. Winter is the easiest time to view it.

1.8 miles from Northstar entrance

Passed these trees on the way to the lake and had to come back for a closer look.

A little holiday cheer!

Frozen in Time

The best thing about storms are when they are coming and going.  This image was taken on the highway to Mt. Rose, almost 8,000 feet elevation.

Cloud height

Missed a day of shooting due to a migraine, but did venture outside to a place about a mile up the road from the condo.  Actually, the vantage point is the parking lot of the Ski resort, Diamond Peak. Found the creek the day before and knew I wanted to visit near sunset.

Quiet and still

This was the best surprise of the day. I turned around and there was an unexpected find…

Setting Sun

I had to make sure that my car was hidden behind the branches, cause I knew I didn’t have time to go move it!

One thing I know, I am really enjoying shooting snowy locations and winter is just starting, so I am hopeful to have more treks to the snow:)

Fall In Yosemite

Reflection View

Visiting Yosemite National Park is a treat.  This year, I have a National Park Pass that I plan on enjoying to the fullest–the inaugural trip was a one day trek with our local Meetup Group. 6a.m. to Midnight is worth it!

There were still patches of fall colors and the reflections were stunning.  Not a cloud in the sky–so had to be a little creative.

Spotlight of Sun

One of the secrets of Yosemite is Fern Springs, located in the Valley and just a small pullout area to park.  Photographers know where and what it is–the smallest waterfall in Yosemite–6 inches for each step.  This visit was before all the leaves filled the spring, so a reflection of the towering trees was visible.  Fall colors are delightful and in spring–the Dogwoods are blooming.  The next two photos were taken the next weekend–you can see the difference a few days and even 24 hours can make!

Surrounded by Trees

Filled with Fall

No reflections visible now!

And a bit of snow…this view was shared in my previous post as well.

Less than 24 hours later...a magical view!

A favorite spot of mine ( and many, I am sure!) is across the road from Fern Spring along the Merced River…

Framed by Fall

Merced River

Merced River Flowing

An advantage of being a passenger–is having your camera at the window.  Just seems like Fall flew by to me!

Window shooting!

A few trees are ready for winter…

Bare Trees

Yosemite–Winter Wonderland

Had the pleasure to spend two Saturdays in Yosemite the past 2 weekends.

These views are from the past weekend. Normally, my posts are in chronological order–but snow in such a majestic locale trumped the Fall pictures from the weekend before.

Folks say that if you want to get shots of snow in Yosemite, you need to be there when it snows, or it will melt.  I was fortunate to be in El Portal, about 2 miles from the entrance on Highway 140.  Didn’t plan on going back into the park on Sunday, but once I saw the snow dusted hills at 2,000 plus feet, I hoped there would be more at 4,000 plus feet, in Yosemite Valley. 20 minutes later, I was in awe of the beauty surrounding me.

For these shots of El Capitan, I trudged across a snow-covered field and tiptoed through slippery rocks in a creek. I planned on getting wet, because I knew the shot I wanted would require me being low to the ground. Had on rain boots and rain pants, so the rest of me stayed dry. (But cold!)  Kudos to Gary Hart and his daughter, Ashley–who let me follow in their snowy footprints. Going to a remote area with risky terrain alone, would not have been smart.  Would not have gotten these by myself!  To view amazing images, see Gary’s website: http://www.eloquentimages.com and his blog at http://www.eloquentnature.com.

Zooming with my 70-200mm

Sunshine appears

These two views, are similar–but I like them both and couldn’t decide which one to share!

Snowy rock floor

Little more clouds...

One of the most famous locations, is the shot from Tunnel View…a photographers paradise!

Few dedicated togs shooting Tunnel View

I stayed here for about 30 minutes. The valley would get covered in fog and then the skies would clear–just amazing to watch the transformations and the variations that appeared!

Rolling Fog

More blue skies

A favorite location for photographers and less populated than the more iconic views is Fern Spring.  This is the smallest waterfall in Yosemite–about 6 inches for each step.

Fall still present

One last view, showing the battle between the seasons…

Glimpse of Fall

This year, I invested in a National Park Pass. Have 11 more months to enjoy visiting our National beauties.  Hoping to visit Yosemite again in December:)  More winter scenes to share.

Morro Bay Visit

Having survived the boredom of I-5 on the way to LA, decided to opt for the coastal route on our return.  Much more scenic and we detoured to Morro Bay.  Morro Bay is know for a huge rock, just next to the coast, aptly named–Morro Rock.  This is actually a “volcanic plug” and reaches 581 feet in height–according to Wikipedia.

All is Calm

Much to do on the water to enjoy the bay.

Wanna go for a ride?

A sailboat sailing by…


Bon Voyage

What is a blog for me–without a few views from my Lensbaby?  These were taken with the Sweet 35 Optic.

Small Blur

I couldn’t resist this iconic shot!

Wrapped Around

Look forward to sharing more in the future!

Huntington Beach and Sunset Views

Made a whirlwind trip to LA the first week in October to visit family.

Thanks to Andy Brooks for driving through the storm from heck!  Not fun to be deluged by pouring rain and then hit an area of construction on I-5 only to have mud splash across the windshield.  But we made it safely.

We were rewarded with a wonderful clear sky for sunset on Wednesday night and headed to Sunset Beach.  Although, not a sunset shot–this was my favorite from that evening. (Lensbaby view!)

After sunset via Lensbaby Sweet 35 Optic

We did find a few minutes to visit Seal Beach…

Surf's Up and Head's Up

Leave only Footprints...


The following evening, we met up with a friend from Facebook.  Have been enjoying Jeff Scott’s images and originally connected with him through his cousin, Pat–fondly known as Scooter from our Girl Scout Camp days at Camp Mountain Meadows.  It was a pleasure to meet and shoot in person!  Here are a few of the views.

I had put a request in for clouds–but none were to be found in this direction.

Arm in Arm

Still hitting the Waves at Dusk

Sunset View

Did have a good laugh at myself that evening when I saw the shots Jeff shared on Facebook.  We met at the Huntington Beach Pier…have seen many shots from Jeff near this locale.  Since the setting sun location was not in alignment from underneath the pier–I wanted it at the end…decided not to try and get the pier.  So, Andy and I were shooting the sunset on the North side of the pier.  Jeff—was shooting from the South side and got tremendous shots of the sunset with the pier in it! Clearly, just because the sun wasn’t where I wanted it to be–still made for a fabulous shot with great shadows!  Note to self–next time, get the pier in the sunset shot!!  May I always have the ability to laugh at myself and learn from others:)  Thanks for that moment, Jeff!

Twitter Friends—Muir Woods and Bird Views

Deep in Muir Woods

Learned the trick to getting into Muir Woods and good parking is to go early!

@Tuckertown @Torqueflite and @BirdGalAlcatraz and I got there so early, there was no one to take our entry fee.  We did arrive during open hours!

Even a puddle can have a grand view:)

View from a puddle!

Following Muir Woods, we went to the Las Gallinas Water Treatment Plant.  There are many ponds and the birds seem to love the area.

Enjoyed the antics of a pair of American Pelicans–they seemed to be moving in sync!


Bobbing for food!

Down the hatch!

Sipping and swallowing!

Black Phoebe perched near the water.

Just watching...

I did have the pleasure to see a Green Heron for a fleeting moment that landed on a dock in front of me.  I shot first and then asked what it was–good thing, because a quick exit followed my question!

Head shot!

Not quite as clear as I would like, but figured I would share, if other folks haven’t seen one yet!  This was a life bird for me:)

Familiar birds also included the Great Egret and a small flock of Canada Geese in flight!


Canada Geese

I am learning more about birds and enjoy shooting them, but prefer a lighter lens and am still drawn to scenery shots.  Fortunately–my Lensbaby Composer Pro is very light and always at my side!

Lensbaby view of open space

This shot was shared previously on Twitpic, but one of my favorites from the day!

Liked the view!


Was really a pleasure to spend time with Twitter friends–look forward to more visits in the future!


San Francisco and Marin Views

SF side of Golden Gate

Had the
pleasure to meet friends visiting from Colorado, that I only knew
from Twitter.  What I do know, I am thankful for genuine
friends and friendships that have come from Twitter and Facebook.
 @Tuckertown, @Torqueflite were grand fun to shoot with!
 Thanks to @BirdGalAlcatraz for sharing the sights and driving
all over the region:) A few images from a time spent that I only
wish were longer:) We went toward Muir Woods, only to find out
early on a Saturday, all the lots were full and the shuttle was
already running.  The trick is to go early! Continued past
Muir Woods and onto a coastal visit toward Pt. Reyes. We then
went to the Visitor Center at Point Reyes…a wealth of information
and tons of trails to explore.

California State

along the Marin Headlands there are many sights to enjoy.
 Considering the time of year–dry grass is a main show!
the day ended–we were able to enjoy another view of the Golden
Gate Bridge from the Marin County side. Special thanks to
@Tuckertown and @Torqueflite for sharing their trip to
California.  Look forward to more visits:)

County Side View of the Golden Gate Bridge

Bodie State Park, CA #Lensbaby too!

Ghost Town...

Visited Bodie State Park this summer and after 13 miles on the dirt rutted road from heck arrived in a ghost town that was well worth the trip.

This area is so rich in history.  I did not know this was the first place in California that got electricity!

Mono Lake was used to shuttle cargo and materials into and out of Bodie.

Taken from the Bodie State Park Website, a brief description…

“Bodie State Historic Park is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town. Visitors can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people. The town is named for Waterman S. Body (William Bodey), who had discovered small amounts of gold in hills north of Mono Lake. In 1875, a mine cave-in revealed pay dirt, which led to purchase of the mine by the Standard Company in 1877. People flocked to Bodie and transformed it from a town of a few dozen to a boomtown.”*

The most magical moment for me is thinking about how many thousands of souls have travelled these same dirt roads for different purposes…work, trade, food, history, and just enjoying Bodie as it was…or is…

These images are from two different visits for me.  The photos with clouds in the background were mid July and the clear skies were from Labor Day Weekend.  If you know me, you know that my Lensbaby travelled with me for both trips!

Hope you enjoy the ghost town.  Must say…the highlight of my visit on Labor Day Weekend was that the first 10 miles of the nastiest dirt road I have travelled on and not 4-wheeled on, is now paved:) I spent the entire time driving marveling at the wonderful access road to Bodie.

The Mill is a main staple still in this ghost town view of history.

Work Source in Bodie

Although the bulidings are so rich in history–I need to do more research to learn about who resided where and when…one of my favorite locations was this old deserted truck!

Need some gas!

Another view...non Lensbaby

This is my favorite view from that visit–the colors just seemed to celebrate this piece of history:)

Viewing in or out!

Old cargo

Rearview Mirror

Want some water?

Worship Window

Just a view

Little Lensbaby Blur...

Think we will be back for another Bodie Blog…

The park hours are very strict, so be certain you have enough time for the road to get into the park to pay your nominal entrance fees and really explore.

A real treasure full of rich history that I will enjoy reading about before sharing more images in the near future:)

One last view via Lensbaby!

Little Historical Blur

* http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=509

More Mono Lake

Just Beyond

Over Labor Day Weekend, I made a trek back to the Eastern Sierra region of California.  I was just there 6 weeks prior, but couldn’t believe the rich gold and yellow colors surrounding Mono Lake.  Time passes differently in nature, doesn’t it!

Here are a few ready to share…

Afternoon Delight

A few clouds...

Another view, but this time with my Lensbaby Sweet 35 Optic.  I am now thankful to have 2 cameras at the ready–one with Lensbaby and one without.  So much easier to gain access to the moments I want to capture and share!

A touch of blur...

We waited around for sunset and it actually wasn’t as impressive color-wise as my July visit. Just being able to enjoy the seas of goldenrod still made it worth it!

Stolen Moment

There will be more to come from this trip:)

June Lake Loop

During a recent trip to the Eastern Sierra I took a trip on the “June Lake Loop”.  Expected to find June Lake, but enjoyed so many other sights as well.  One in particular was Silver Lake.

First image processed using Photoshop!

I was in the area to attend a workshop on Photoshop for Photographers with Moose Peterson.  Was a wonderful class, although must admit  a bit over my head at the time!  Have since then spent countless hours in Photoshop and also have ventured in Lightroom with much success.  Thanks to Doug Sahlin and Knapp Hudson am able to process my RAW images now and post from Lightroom!!  Special thanks to Andy Brooks for helping me with my class homework via “Go to Meeting” and advising me to create the image above.  (Yes, I did say I had help with my homework!  Seriously, as an educator had to admit did not do without help!  I did the work, but with guidance.)

Back to the loop…

View in the distance

I could find no access to the wonderful falls above, so chose my 70-200mm for a closer view.

One of my Lensbaby optics that doesn’t get much use is my Fisheye.  Enjoyed the majestic views with a twist.  So still and calm, figured the Fisheye could help me show the fullness of beauty.  This is June Lake and the richness of colors matches my experience with Sand Harbor, located in the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.  A must visit, if in the area!!

Some Lensbaby fun!

Part of the splendor of the Highway 395 corridor for me was there were so many breath-taking views.  Took me 11 and a half hours to get from 395 back to Davis, CA to show my easy ADHD–or just the ability to pull over and enjoy visions of grandeur!

Just one little patch of fence left!

I especially enjoyed views that are not the norm down in the “flatlands” I enjoy and call home!

Leading the way to beauty!

I would love to just follow this road all day and just enjoy where it might lead!  For now, I will let my imagination fill that trip until I return one day and can really go where this road leads.

I did pass wildflowers alongside the road during much of my trip–a pleasure to behold and catch with my camera.  These so struck my fancy as they are surrounded by weeds and surviving on their own!  Will have a dedicated blog to the flowers that caused part of my wonderful lengthy return to the Sacramento area!  Spent much of that time with my macro lens!


One last view of June Lake…and yes, I do in fact have a “rock fettish”  Love the way you can see the wear and tear on this one rock.  Wonder how many years it has endured harsh weather and the fabulous view of June Lake!

Crystal Clear

I learned on this trip to enjoy the unexpected!  I went on my way to Mammoth with no reservations for a Thursday evening in the middle of July.  I figured–with this economy…I could get a room for one night.  Mind you, I have never gone anywhere without a reservation…I would strongly recommend you plan ahead and reserve a room in Lee Vining.  It is the “portal” to Yosemite via Tioga Pass and does fill up.  However–if I didn’t have to drive another 10 plus miles down the road, I wouldn’t have enjoyed this sunset view across June Lake from my very economical hotel room!!

The end of the day...

I so look forward to more visits along this golden span of California!

Mono Lake in Eastern Sierras of CA

Tufa View in Rough Water

Recently, I had the pleasure to visit the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range in California.  Highway 395 rolls along at elevations over 7000 feet, even in summer there are snow-capped mountains.  The vistas are stunning and just breath-taking.

Mono Lake is a State Natural Preserve located outside of the town of Lee Vining, CA.  Lee Vining is one of the portals to Yosemite National Park via Tioga Pass.  The preserve is home to millions of migrating birds, in particular huge colonies of Gulls.  Wilson’s Phalarope’s are also native to Mono Lake and feed on the Brine Flies which are abundant in the lake environment.

Class Act of Balance!

Mono Lake, known mostly by the odd mineral formations, called Tufa Towers is a vast wilderness covering about 65-70 square miles.  The Tufa Towers are made of Calcium-Carbonate.  One of the reasons this lake is so different, is that there is “no outlet”.  Water run off from the surrounding streams enter the lake and then the fresh water evaporates generating a significantly high count of salt and alkalinity. (More than twice the salt in the sea.)

Tufa Formation almost Dusk

Depending upon your whereabouts decades ago, you may know the controversy that surrounded Mono Lake…water was diverted to Southern California by the LA Department of Water and Power for over 50 years.  This significant loss of water caused the lake level to drop a vertical 45 feet at it’s lowest point.  The animals, vegetation, and ecosystems were greatly effected. In 1994, a settlement was reached with the agreement of a minimum water level for Mono Lake of 6392 feet above sea level.

Today, we see Mono Lake in the news and this time the ecosystem may be fine–only not viewed by the public.  This historic gem, believed to be over one million years of age is going to be closed as a California State Park, due to our devastating budget crisis.  No specifics about how the park will be closed or which access points will close has been shared publicly.  The time listed on the State Park website states October as a closing date for numerous parks, but no concrete plan is published.  I for one–will make another trip there before the sun sets on my access to this treasure.

Highway 395, 13 miles east of Yosemite National Park, near the town of Lee Vining, California.


Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Preserve:                        http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=514
Mono Lake.org                                                               http://www.monolake.org/about/

Birds of the Eastern Sierra

Last week at this time I was enjoying the Eastern Sierras of California on my way to a Photoshop Class in Mammoth.  Along the way, I got to visit such majestic places as Bodie, Mono Lake, June Lake, Mammoth Lakes, and Yosemite.  There will be numerous blogs that share the images from this trip. My original intent was to share them chronologically, but a magic moment in Yosemite has caused me to rethink that and share nature’s magic first!

One of my most memorable highlights was in Yosemite, just inside the Tioga Pass entrance.  I pulled over to photograph the amazing snow-capped mountains and still lake along side a meadow.

Glory abounds

Another view framed by trees as I approached the edge of the lake.

Closer view

This actually was my second trip to Yosemite in less than 24 hours.  The previous day, one of my classmates from our Photoshop for Photographers Class headed up Tioga Pass and down to Tuolumne Meadow.  I reviewed my images that night and they stank.  I had been so caught up the beauty and wonders everywhere I looked, I got lazy and didn’t use a tripod…this trip, I was a “Tripod Queen” and vowed to only really take pictures that were well thought out.

It could have been the tripod that scared this female Mallard out of her spot in the bushes.  I am still not sure which one of us was startled more.  (Probably me!) Once my heart rate got closer to normal, I began to shoot her photo.  She never got far from the shore and I soon realized there was a reason for this!  I had unknowingly flushed her off her nest…

Well hidden in the shrubs

Once I knew what had happened, I moved out of the area and changed to my 70-200mm lens.  The nest image was at 200mm from a safe distance.

Think Mama had been on her nest for quite some time.  Not a single other duck visible to me the entire trek through upper Yosemite.  She soon began to stretch on top of a rock along the shore.


...and hold it...

When she was done, she still stood guard.

She kept me in eyesight

I waited for quite some time for her to return to her nest.  I kept my distance as I certainly did not want to flush her off her nest again!  I did not crop this image–as I wanted to share how well hidden she and her eggs really are.

Nest is located between the two trees--look for a lighter spot

This was such a magical moment and think even more so–because it was just me and Mama Mallard.  Will revisit this area again next time I can visit the park.  Really found I preferred the outskirts of the popular areas–where it was really isolated and no one else around!

Mono Lake is also located in the Eastern Sierras, about 1 hour north of Mammoth Lakes–look for a future posting dedicated to the history with numerous views of the Tufas (formations) in this grand salt lake.  For now, a few bird images.

The lake is known for the vast Gull habitat it is.  Here is one on top of a rock–to view other gulls and the tourists!

From a distance--cropped or closer view

One thing I so appreciate about birders (and photographers too)–is the willingness to share knowledge.  I was sitting on the shore trying hard to photograph little birds that kept swimming in circles and going into the shadows from the Tufas on the lake.

A young man and a group of three friends joined me in watching…I noticed his binoculars hanging from his neck and asked if he was a birder? Yes, and he identified the birds and explained their antics.  Wonderful!  They are Wilson’s Phalaropes and a (Lifer for me)–they swim in circles to stir up the food in the water and then snack away.  Took numerous pictures and with the fading light didn’t have much luck–but still loved every minute!

Shadows of a Bird

A little better view–backside, but at least in the light!

In fading light

More trip highlights to come!

Hope your day is wonderful:)

Lensbaby Metal and Petals

One of the benefits of living in the Sacramento Area is visiting Old Town.  Old Town has Cobblestone roads, wooden plank sidewalks, and horse and buggy carriages–quite quaint and takes you back in time for a moment!  Equally enjoyable are the Railroad Museum, numerous shops–a bit touristy and some great restaurants.

This also makes a perfect outing for the Lensbaby to enjoy a little blur–up close!

Heavy Metal

Special thanks to Tim Voss–I posted this on Facebook and his comment was “Heavy Metal,” had to borrow his comment!

Out or In?

At your own risk...

One of the lovely restaurants–snuck in for a quick photo opportunity as we went by:)

Elegant Dining

This next image is taken from the entrance to the State Capital building at night.  Pretty certain I would not be allowed to lie down in the entrance during the day!

It's Your Move!

A view from the Capital Building shooting back to Old Town…

Did you know buildings could smile?

Another favorite photo option for me is looking at flowers via my Composer Pro with the Sweet 35 Optic.  Does wonders for flowers, and even weeds!

Beauty in Nature

Bright and Sunny

I wish for World Peace

Up Close

A Rock and A Hard Place

Center Stage

A gate to the garden…


Have a wonderful week!

PetaPalooza 2011

Two weeks ago I got a little time to visit the Petapalooza in Citrus Heights (near Sacramento).  This event was free to the public and welcomed dogs, birds, horses (pony ride…) bunnies (for adoption) and people.

There is something about getting animal lovers together.  Here are just a few views of the “dog watching” that I did…

Two by Two...

Not all dogs had to walk–some health reasons, but love involved no matter what–IMHO!

Going for a ride

Clearly gives new meaning to the term, “Wanna go for a ride?”


Think I am cool!

One of my favorite events were the “Splash Dogs” having attended last year, I knew where the pool was and took off as soon as we entered the park.  I learned that The Splash Dogs were actually competing in Reno, NV.  So, the Citrus Heights Canine Unit was showing their leaps and bounds and the general public could pay $30 for their dog to leap off and into the water.

This first dog was a star and absolutely fearless–into the air…got ball…and found own exit out of the pool–no interest in using the ramp that was available.

In the air!


Don't need the ramp!

Am not certain what the refund policy was or what fundraiser the dollars were going to…but some dogs were NOT going in.  No matter how much persuading or taunting with the beloved ball

No, thanks--YOU go in!

Here's your ball...

An important part of taking your dog to events is making certain they are well cared for and have lots of water.

The Hydration Station was popular…

Smiling Goldie

When out of the water…dogs do what they do…shake!

Goldie at Hydration Station

A favorite moment we have recreated at home is the kiddie pool–full of ice.  Got to see the dogs love it at the event, so have done it at home to help get through 105 degree days.

Waiting for the ice...patiently!

Another awesome event was watching The Relay Races–these dogs were so focused, I couldn’t believe it.  The noise from the crowds was loud–but they were on a mission.  Run down, jump over the hurdles–get the ball and come on back doing the same thing.  One thing that surprised me was that there was a larger dog that was able to compete and did well!

Up and...

Not just for Terriers!

Release and Off!

With ball in mouth

A few other events I was able to enjoy in addition to the many pet friendly vendors and food.  Another view coming soon:)

Sacramento Zoo

First Stop for Photos!

Have been fortunate to visit the local Sacramento Zoo a few times since January.  My staff gave me a year pass to visit and I intend to enjoy every visit and meeting of these amazing animals!

The first exhibit I wanted to capture with my new camera and tripod was the orangutan’s. Main reason being I knew there is no fence or glass between us, so it’d be easy to shoot.  Had to laugh, my friend overheard someone say, “They are so human like!”  Well, yes that is true!

Momma always said, "Don't show your food!"

Resting in the sun, far away from the observation area…

Afternoon Relaxation

The friend above is a Bongo Antelope–never heard of that before.  Native of Africa.

My previous visit, I did not have a long lens with me–so it was wonderful to use my 70-200 when viewing the Flamingos…

Looking at you!

What fascinated me the most about being able to view them up close–is the way they were eating their food in the water.  Their beaks are submerged and upside down as they scoop up morsels.

Wonder if they get a headache if they eat/drink too fast?

Another wonder of the zoo is visiting the large cats.  A head shot of a Lion…

What nice fur you have!

The trick in shooting the lion images were to focus on the animal far away and not on the large fence that separated us from one another.  This was with my new camera and if I wasn’t careful in auto-focus, I got this instead of the majestic lion.  Happy to share my Non-examples to help anyone else learn.  Good thing to be humbled by my camera–makes me want to learn more!

Wrong focal point! Lion in the far background.

The Giraffes were a bit reluctant to come out for their moment of fame.

Just checking out what is outside my "home."

Another view…

Portrait View

A moment of posing for a non-zoo resident!

Relaxed and Ready to move!

Check out Andy’s work at http://www.blueturban.net

"Let sleeping cats...lie."

A bit of flowers as well to enjoy our very late blooms of spring.

Just one bloom

Pink and white blooms, finally!

Dixon May Fair

You are entering The Dixon May Fair

Back in May, I had the chance to visit a small local fair.  The Dixon May Fair is held in Dixon, CA, not far from my new locale, Davis.

I was sporting a new camera, the Nikon D7000 with the kit lens.  Need to be a little lighter lately, due to a back injury–so this works well:)

There is always something so humbling for me with new technology, or should I just say, new to me.  The D7000 is my fourth Nikon DSLR and I was feeling quite smug…not reviewing the manual and thinking I could just “wing it”.  One of my favorite lens, is my Lensbaby.  I liked this shot, because it reminds me I have much to learn–plus it has a trace of the Lensbaby Blur I so enjoy.  This image was created by operator error!

Operator Error

I did do a bit better navigating settings on my camera and had a super time on our maiden voyage.

Do calories really count from the fair?

The best part of the fair–aside from the food, is being there at night to shoot The Midway.  So, here we go!

Let the fun begin!

Sometimes, life just seems to pass by in a blur and time moves quickly.

Just a Trace

What goes up...must come down!

For me, some of my favorite shots are longer exposures and the blend of lights.

Swinging Around

Fun Games

And of course, the favorite…the Ferris Wheel!

Colors are plenty!

Also took a moment to enjoy the reflection on the windows of a nearby trailor.

Midway Lines

I am really excited for the California State Fair which starts on July 14th.  Will look forward to sharing more fair images in July!