Taking my new Fuji xt4 out!

The story of my new purchase. It started about a year ago when my friend asked if I was interested in parting with my Nikon D7100. A perfectly good, solid camera I have been using for many years. Well along came my mirrorless Fuji x100f. Fun camera and great for grab n go, street photography. This led me to reconsider my Olympus mirrorless that I did not find any happiness with. So KEH (company buys used cameras) came along and purchased all my used Olympus stuff. I replaced it with my Fuji xt2 and some lenses. I found my system. Oh, so back to the Nikon. Well, I still used it, but not as much. I hate to have a camera sit unused. So I sold the camera to a friend of a friend. Now I had a lot of additional lenses I have collected over the years, and along came KEH again. This time buying all the rest of my Nikon gear. I now had credit at my favorite camera store, Action Camera in Roseville. And I let it sit since I did not really need anything. CoVid strikes, and I have too much credit at a small retail establishment. Fuji just put out the xt4 so I decided to use my credit and order this new camera.

Meanwhile, my friend Anne purchased a Fuji xt3, and she wanted to try out her new x100-400mm telephoto lens. To be a real birder you need a long lens, big muscles, money, and lots of patience. I lack big muscles so I shy away from a lens I am not willing to or have the ability to hold. But I can’t say my interest wasn’t piqued just a bit. Especially. if my friends were going to be out shooting birds, peacefully. My longest lens x55-200 wasn’t going to be long enough for birds,, but since we would primarily be in a car I also took my wide-angle lens and my macro lens. My Subi Blue needed a wash so I offered to drive.

The Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area is located along the causeway on Interstate 80 between Sacramento and Davis. Nice and close to home. In natural settings, you never know what you will find. But anytime I get away with my camera in hand is a good day. There are some impressive upgrades to this camera, but I just set up the basics this time out.

President Clinton designated this floodplain in 1997 as a wetlands to be restored. It serves as a flyway and home for many birds.

3,700 of the 16.000 acres have been transformed into a wetlands.
The summertime dirt road is easy to navigate.
Restored wetlands demonstrates “leading lines”

I was interested in capturing landscapes, Anne had her long lens and her focus was birds.

Caught this Great Egret busy preening!

Quietly got out of the car and hunted flowers and insects.

Pay close attention to all signs!
These reeds caught my eye.
25 square miles just off Interstate 80. Peaceful!

My Fuji xt4 performed well in the field. The feel of this shutter is amazing. Hard to describe but it is different is a wonderful way! I was happy to capture these images to remind me that nature is not too far away!

P.S. My friend decided that she would return her long xf 100-400mm lens, and get the xf 80mm f2.8 Macro that I just love. So I will also save myself some money.

Summer, Charlie and CoVid

When I think of summer, July 4th seemed to be a dividing point. Early summer, mid-summer, and late summer. Before July 4th the days were warming up. The country’s government was bowing to the idea that the economy needed to get back to a more normal status. This put some additional pressure on me to move away from self-quarantine and slowly, carefully join others outside.

July 4th came and went. Many firework displays were canceled. I was not too disappointed. The local groups sold “safe n sane” fireworks on every corner. Pride was taken in opening up more windows so fewer people would be waiting next to one another. I am not a fan of these pop-up fireworks stores or the fireworks they sell. Growing up in New York, all fireworks are prohibited. Large firework displays are planned, and I can still remember watching fireworks in the skies on Long Island. Salisbury Park (the name was changed), and over the Sears parking lot from the Gertz-side in Hicksville. One year we were in Boston and watched the display along the river with Tschaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. Cannons included. One of the first fireworks display I saw in California was at the Hollywood Bowl. Unbelievable! Picnics with candelabras and more. Here in Sacramento, we took the kids to Cal Expo, and in Carmichael at the closed La Sierra High School campus. Once we went down to Old Sac to watch the display. Unfortunately, the crowds made me feel uncomfortable and unsafe. A lot of alcohol.

Since CoVid 19 got in the way of large gatherings the following images are from a past Fourth of Julys

Folsom parade with costumes, a cattle drive down main street.

Carmichael parade with old cars decked out.

Photographically, I like parades.

For the past 9 years, I have had more concern for my dog. Libby, a calm black lab felt better at home in her crate. So fireworks were watched on tv along with the movie 1776. This year, with my new pup Charlie I was warned by my neighbors that it would be noisy in front of my house. They were right. There was noise also coming from the street behind us. And the smell of gunpowder hung in the air. But Charlie remained calm, and even went outside to do his business! Good boy!

The hot temperatures here in Fair Oaks does not disappoint. I went looking for a small wading pool for Charlie. Scored one on sale at Emigh’s. I just love this store. Service is top-notch. All of the employees know their products. In summer or winter time my photo friends and I have permission to photograph at the store. No money was exchanged for this endorsement. The parking lot is always full of satisfied customers.

The first time I filled up the 45″ pool Charlie thought it was a BIG water dish. I got in and pulled my puppy in. The next time he ignored the pool altogether. The third time, he got into it. Started digging, splashing, and jumping in and out.

Charlie’s first time in his pool!
Enjoying splashing around!

Getting out and socializing in the time of CoVid 19 is not easy. In July the Sactown Doodles Meetup Group planned an event in Rocklin. No need to RSVP, and I decided that Charlie could use the experience. It was outdoors and the description of the dog park made it very tempting. I messaged Gidget’s owner and arranged a reunion. We also saw Kona, Charlie’s great Aunt. An unexpected surprise. I met Jennifer and Kona last summer when I was looking for a breeder. Many people, not quite so many masks, and many doodles participated. At five months Charlie was one of the younger members there, but he thoroughly enjoyed himself. Visited with many dogs and dog owners. Glad I went. Charlie kept an eye on my whereabouts. I only brought my iPhone, and I didn’t even video this one-hour event. Just enjoying the moment with doodles and their owners.

Glad to have this photo of the two of us. Thanks Beth!

Unfortunately, CoVid 19 is not going away, and numbers are way up here in California. Just heard, a teacher I worked with is getting over this virus. He said it was “no flu”. Glad to hear he is on the mend. But with all the new cases, and no testing or contact tracing being done the scary factor is growing.

Just got three masks I ordered from Etsy. I wanted to support small businesses here in the U.S. A. This new accessory will be around for a while, and I wanted to be protected, comfortable, and stylish! This is the first time ordering on Etsy, and it was a positive experience. Orders went in easily, and arrived quickly. I will test drive these three styles, and then order a few more. So when I am out, I will be wearing a mask to help stop the spread of the Corona Virus. And you should too!!!

Twenty-Three Minus Seven

Sixteen weeks together with Charlie, my Australian Labradoodle (ALD). My puppy has changed so much in the past 4 months. Hard to believe.

I brought home a seven-pound seven-week-old puppy. I now have a 26 pound twenty-three-week old puppy. Charlie is definitely food motivated. He now gets two meals a day, and plenty of training bits. And by bits, I mean the tiniest crumb of a treat. Some days he enjoys a frozen kibble stuffed Kong in his crate.

It is amazing at how many food-related words he knows. Are you hungry? I get a loud woof! How about a Kong? He goes straight to the freezer. Have some water. Treat. With my Libby, I had a bed close by the dinner table where she would stay while we ate. Tried that, but Charlie put the bed to other uses, and so one bed is gone. So Charlie now lies down under the table near my feet. But there is no begging. My husband would like to see Charlie behave more like the mature dog Libby. Charlie is still in training mode.

After dinner, Charlie wants to help with my dishwashing. It was hard for a while, but since I use the “Place” command, he does a down-stay on his mat and watches me fill the dishwasher. I just don’t want Charlie to get into some food that may be bad for his digestion. Jo started my puppy with Life’s Abundance for small/medium puppies. No digestive issues, no scratching, no problems. So why change? Delivery is simple. An email reminds me of an upcoming order. Changes to the order is easy. I have also used some of their treats, and training treats. All meet with Charlie’s approval.

We finished five weeks of a six-week training class. Baxter and Bella Online Training. Amy provides lifetime live training sessions that are also recorded so I can watch again. After class, an email arrives with homework for the week. Each day I emphasize a different command. Today, the command is “Wait” and “Go to your room” (crate). There is a FB group for member support about anything dog related. Interesting to hear from other pet owners going through the same experience. I have not used the “one on one” video chat with Amy yet, but I know it is there if I need it. Games, podcasts, videos, and written charts/instructions are always available.

Life is ruff, for my boy!

I see such growth in his learning. I know he understands all of the commands. And last week he was put to the test. My daughter left her teacup Pomeranian Max at my house while Charlie and I were out. This afternoon, Charlie was barking. I told him shhh, and down. And he did it with no treats around. There is 1 more lesson to complete the Puppy Class. He has learned – Sit, Down, Leave It, Come, Touch, Wait, and Loose leash walking. Now we practice in a variety of places, with distractions, distance, and duration. Progress is being made. My husband remembers my well trained 9 year-old Lab and still wonders if Charlie will ever get there. Adding bells to my back door, and potty training is on the done side! I have become Charlie’s doorman as my sister-in-law kindly pointed out to me. Though today I learned that if I am busy elsewhere I will hear the bells being frantically rung. Smart guy! Who is training whom?

I caught Charlie chewing on something, and went to investigate. He had lost a molar and was chewing on it. Yes, his adult teeth are replacing the shark teeth. Three canines out, one sharp canine still to go. Our arms are now healing.

Charlie has soft, fluffy hair that started to hide his beautiful eyes.

Charlie before his haircut.

He experienced his first puppy cut, and he and I survived. It was hard to have Charlie away from me and with someone he never met for an hour.

I can see again! Notice his ear is flipped over. It’s cooler this way!

I haven’t decided on a permanent groomer. With CoVid19 it is hard to meet anyone face to face. And smart as Charlie is he can’t talk. So I depend more on recommendations and reviews. My neighbor acts as a “grandparent” to a golden doodle in the neighborhood so I asked where Buster got his haircut. Buster is a standard golden doodle with very curly poodle-type wool hair with hair shaved way short for the summer. Not a match for Charlie who has long, fleece-like hair. But the groomer also had good reviews on Yelp. One price, one hour, one dog at a time, and no cages got me to make the appointment. I brought a paper with my instructions, and photo to the appointment. He looked at it briefly and handed it back to me. The groomer is close so I left Charlie and went home. Returned in one hour and the puppy cut was done. So what is the hesitation to return? My instruction sheet was given a cursory glance. I said not to cut Charlie’s eyelashes, and they were cut. I know, they grow back. His sanitary trim was only so so. I was given a discount since this was only a puppy cut and only facial hair was cut. So I will continue to ask around for Labradoodle groomer recommendations.

So my life has gone to the dogs! Well, actually only my one and only Charlie.

Sunflowers, Art, and Agriculture in Yolo County

Yolo County opens its farms up to local artists monthly. The last time I took advantage of this event was in July of 2019. Part of the fun of photography is seeing new places, and part is sharing the experience. I finally felt like I could share the experience with one friend, and so we headed out. This was the last part of June, and I was feeling like pushing aside CoVid 19 just a bit.

Sunflowers are showing up all over Yolo county, and there was a field on the Harrison Farm. Not the tallest flowers, not so spectacular, but I was traveling with my Fuji xt2 and my 80mm 2.8 macro lens. The weather was just perfect. With macro photography, even the slightest movement can look like a big magnified blur. Usually, I have experienced a gale-force wind creeps up just as I take out my macro lens. Not this time!

Lots of bees around sunflowers.
Such a flirty face
One amongst many

This Thursday in the last part of June I didn’t expect a large turnout. But I guess others felt the same, and there I was social distancing from a nice group of artists.

Traffic duty. Each car was carefully check in and she explained the guidelines.

Many uses for this pond. The ripples reminds me of an impressionist’s painting inspiration. The rope swings looks like fun. And the kayak and fishing poles is someone’s idea of a relaxing afternoon.

We each tried to capture our selfie wearing our protective CoVid masks.

On this day I carried my Fuji xt2 with three lenses. I heard there were sheep here, and I wanted to grab some animal photographs. Well, the sheep were resting in the corner shaded area. I wanted and finally one ventured out to eat.

Using my xf 55-200 lens I caught this little cutie.
Back in the shady side of the barn
Plein Air artist starting on his canvas
I appreciate the two red barns using my camera
I like the way this gate frames the image.

I wandered around the flower garden for these next photos.

These next images represent still life on the farm.

Backlit lighting on the walnut tree.
Someday I may be found in some baklava. That would be yummy!
Walnut trees. Careful. Drip irrigation leads to muddy sandals.
Pulling away from the walnut orchard was this fire engine kicking up a lot of dirt.

So ends this months Yolo Art & Ag event to the Harrison Farm. Looking forward to my next outing.