Lens-Artists Challenge #136 : The Letter S

Patti says, “For this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #136, we’re circling back to the alphabet.  This time, we’re going to focus on the letter S.  What images can you find that feature a subject that begins with the letter S?  Here are some ideas to get you started.”  

My friends and I visit sunflower fields in Yolo County.

Shadows on my Sunflower!

In Sacramento, there is the Museum of Medical History. An interesting place to visit when it reopens after CoVid. So my first letter S is for Skeleton with its funny sign.

Is this the result of too much touching?

So many things that shout out to me, “Pick me! I start with the letter S!”

Variety is the Spice of Life!
Sunset looking toward the Sutter Buttes

I hope I made you smile with my Letter S!

Lens-Artists Challenge #135 A Glimpse into Your World

Over the past year, I followed many photographers as they shared amazing images. I decided that for me to grow I would need to open myself up to this experience. So this week I accepted Sheetal’s challenge to, “Show us the things you love that make your world spin or things about your world that make you delirious with joy.”

Charlie has captured my heart. My Australian Labradoodle just celebrated his first birthday. My life has revolved around this boy, and the bond is strong. The day starts when he says it does. He quietly calls out to me that he is awake. With his collar on, we head to his round bed where we snuggle for a time. Then out for our short walk in our court. Six houses and I take in the changes from day to day. Occasionally, we greet a neighbor or see a jogger. Then home to have breakfast. With no plans for the day, we settle on the couch, catch up on emails and take a morning nap together. I am the person who trains and cares for Charlie’s needs. We take a walk and play fetch. We have one training session a day, one game of “Find It!”, and one grooming session after dinner. Some indoor fetch and he settles while my husband and I watch television. Charlie has found a place in my husband’s heart. When I am away, Charlie keeps him company. Charlie is a people magnet. I just hope that he soon becomes more relaxed being out and about with me and my camera.

Charlie has us wrapped around his paws. Discovering each other, training together, and becoming part of the family.

This litter of 10 adorable Australian Labradoodles is 1 year old (put together by Jo)

Camera in hand, looking out at the world makes me happy. What I capture in the frame just depends on what catches my eye at the time. Small objects, funny signs, colors or shapes, patterns, contradictory images, animal and people expressions, and the people busy doing things. I don’t see myself stuck on one subject. My only limits are what kind of lens I can carry, and I usually only carry two. My camera has an added value in my life by connecting me to wonderful photo friends.

Amusing signs

The pandemic has slowed down life, and I try and appreciate this new pace of life. One day, one goal. Thinking back over the decades I now wonder how I kept up that frenetic pace. I am home with my husband that I have known now for 54 years. We take turns arguing with the television over the news coverage. We share opinions on how to fix the world, if only they would listen. We read the newspaper and find books to read on our iPads. We play Scrabble, and figure out what we want to eat for dinner. It is a serene existence. We talk about what we want to do after “the pandemic”, and when will life return to normal. Actually, we also discuss what that normal will look like. Hopefully, eating out, traveling both near and far, and feeling less restricted to be around people. I look forward to new adventures with my husband and my Charlie.

I am taking the first step in sharing with the Lens-Artists. This is my new challenge, and I hope that I will be able to meet it!

Undersocialized Charlie and my efforts to have a companion dog!

Among the many problems created by the pandemic is the under socialization of my puppy. My nine-month wait coincided with CoVid 19. Born on February 7th he arrived home just after society was shutting down. Governor Newsom declared a stay at home order in mid-March. We picked up Charlie at 7 weeks rather than chance not being about to make the 2-hour drive to Orland, Ca, and Serenity Springs Labradoodles.

So instead of allowing Charlie to have many social interactions during this critical puppy period, we were busy having our groceries picked up through e-cart, and sanitizing them before bringing them into the home. No one knew what we were up against. Social interactions consisted of listening to Amy teach us on Zoom. Charlie would sit next to my computer and together we learned. Amy’s voice and treats were our first classroom at Baxter & Bella online training. As more was known about CoVid 19 I reached out to my friend Carly and a few months ago we went to our first in-person training with other under-socialized puppies.

Nearing one year of age, Charlie now attends class with the “gifted” pups training to be CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) dogs. Sometimes this works, and sometimes not so much. Skateboarders, cyclists, and motorcycles are triggers (Puppy training language). He was so alert last week, that when I asked for a paw he followed the instruction with his eyes on the road. It was funny to watch but frustrating to teach. In this new 6 feet separation society when you take dogs in public you may not want to let anyone pet your dog. So to be polite, you can say, “Please don’t pet my dog, but if you want he can wave to you.” Giving a paw is the first step in teaching dogs to wave. Good adaptation for the pandemic. Right?

Being anxious is detrimental to learning. To desensitize Charlie I decided to park in front of a store and let him watch the world around him. He feels safe in the car. I give him treats when he is calm. I listened to an NPR interview with Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist. Her research specialty is dog cognition. I have since downloaded one of her audiobooks to take with us. A perfect soundtrack for people watching from the car. While we watch I capture some images with my Fuji x100f. I like this camera for street shooting.

Next time I will park right in front of entrance!
Looking in to the store.
Reading while walking.
Charlie, the ghost dog!

Last weekend my friends planned to walk the Johnny Cash Trail outside of Folsom Prison. Since my focus has been on Charlie I decided to take him with me. I brought my Fuji x100f to simplify the photo walk. This was a real test. I met the group in a shopping mall parking lot next to very busy, fast-moving street traffic. He was doing well considering the noise.

Right outside the razor-wired fence of Folsom Prison.

Group planning doesn’t always work out, so I decided to pass on the trail, and went in search of a nature trail. The Miner’s Ravine Nature Preserve parking lot was 1 1/2 miles down the road.

Came across this interesting tree. Such an expression What does it say to you?
Gave Charlie the command, “Wait!” He allowed me to take my photograph.
Raised manhole cover ahead. My friend Anne sees something else.
Charlie walks around the manhole cover.
I took this photo after our walk. I think the nature preserve was on the side that we did not visit. Or else Charlie did not pay attention to the sign. That’s my story and I am sticking to it!

Charlie relaxed, and when I asked him to wait, he allowed me to capture some images. This was a win-win situation.

He always recognizes our car, and is happy to jump in!

I plan to make a point to take Charlie out with me daily. After all, someday we all will not be homebound. I hope!

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.