Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #137 Soft

My next Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is Soft. Anne-Christine asks what does the word Soft mean to you? Is it something that you touch? Is it the undefined notion that is the opposite of hard? Is it the contrast to sharp from a photographer’s point of view? This is not so simple a concept.

My first thought was that of a baby. We want everything about this new being to be soft. Soft blankets, soft toys, soft skin, soft colors, and soft sounds Nothing hard, or harsh. We want the world around us to be soft and welcoming.

The soft touch of father and son.

Only a week later, my Charlie joined the world. We follow his first developing steps on a webcam.

Charlie arrives home at 7 weeks.
His fluffy soft fur needs tending to. Every evening we bond over grooming

Nature softens the world around me.

Light falling softly on this lotus flower
The dandelion flower pod beakens us to spread its seeds with one soft blow.

My most favorite photographic technique is shooting with a large aperture setting. This narrow depth of field clarifies the subject. This blurred background is called the bokeh. I pay particular attention to this when deciding to purchase a lens for my Fuji x system.

My featured photograph is that of clouds. Soft, fluffy and white. What do you see? When you hear the work “Soft” what comes to mind?

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!

The Natural World around me!

I have gone on a couple of photoshoots since the reopening from quarantine. Each was outside and I mostly stayed to myself. Usually, after an outing, my CTD group likes to grab a bite to eat. I’m not there yet and pass on the friendly banter with my fellow photogs.

Old Fair Oaks Village provided the backdrop of my first time out with my friends. Easy for me since it is about 5 minutes away.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

WPA Rock Garden and Land Park Pond provided a nice opportunity to get out and use my Fujifilm 80mm 2.8 macro lens with my Fuji xt2.

I captured the magenta and green combination in the morning light.

Walking around William Land Regional Park I find all kinds of wildlife enjoying the pond. Dragonflies, ducks, and turtles all using the pond in peace.

Since none of the Lotus flowers were in bloom I headed over to Vedanta Society of Sacramento.

Now this is how to keep social distance when meeting friends.

The Sacramento Zoo has now reopened. As a zoo member, I was invited to preview the new format as it reopens. Only members were allowed during the first two days with a set appointment time. CoVid 19 guidelines are stated online. As I entered the zoo I was reminded to stay with my flock, wear a mask, and stay 6 feet away from others. I had a 1pm appointment time. Not my usual zoo time since I like to visit first thing in the morning. I was lucky, and the weather was very mild. Perfect.

The zoo has been closed for 3 months, but the facility has been making some changes to accommodate new zoo occupants. Flamingos welcome the visitors.

I’m practicing social distancing!

And these flamingos have gotten all sorts of mixed signals. It’s confusing! And possibly not in the best interest of the flock, or in the case of flamingos a flamboyance.

Black Crowned Cranes are dealing with issues.
Ok. All is good with Black Crowned Cranes.
Got an itch.

An ostrich, a duck, an emu, and a Himalayan Monal all walk into a …….

Don’t bother me, I’m napping.

Usually, when I arrive at the zoo in the morning the Red Panda is sleeping. Found this one ready to pose for a close-up.

I wonder what the front of this animal looks like?
Here is an Okapi. One of two that reside at the zoo.
Just hangin’ out. Glad to see visitors.

New residents here at the zoo.

A new giraffe joins the tower.
American Alligator takes his place at the Sacramento Zoo.

As a nod to Tom Paxton and the cd Goin’to the Zoo I’ll call this “Allen gator. A little alligator with a great big bite, he was Allen gator he wanted to do what’s right!”

And I hope that everyone does what’s right!!!

Does having more time means accomplishing more?

CoVid19 means that I am homebound. There is nowhere to go and stay safe for everyone. So I stay home. At first, I tackled each day with a purpose. Using recipes that call for more time. Adding some baking to my repertoire. Reorganizing my rooms. Catching up with all those piles of stuff. I took this time at home as a challenge to work on my hobbies of quilting, photography, and genealogy. But then Charlie came into my life.

My latest involvement has been puppy training. After being in the home for two weeks, he and I are developing a rhythm. The past two nights he has slept through to breakfast. Ok. It is his breakfast time, 5:30 a.m. – 6:00 a.m. But I’ll take it. So the day starts earlier than I am used to. My goal of getting to bed at around midnight is working, but I still can’t seem to want to eat that early.

Charlie takes three longer naps during the day. If it was up to him they would all take place hugging my foot ensconced slipper. Sometimes I slip out and leave the slipper. This doesn’t fool Charlie much. Nothing more pathetic than a puppy crying for me, and I am just down the hall. Got to shake this soon.

Crate training has taken longer with Charlie than with my Libby. After two weeks he readily goes into his “Room” around mealtime. A food-filled Kong can keep him occupied for the moment. But when food is gone Charlie wants out. It starts with a small whine, then some digging, and yapping. I give Charlie the “shush” signal, and when he quiets I let him out. I am making slow progress. I plan to talk to some friends who have had more experience raising different pups.

So I am trained to have eagle eyes and watch for all house training signals. In and out we go to the potty, and back out again. Most of the time he gets with the program. Sometimes we miss the signal, a subtle look. I just added a string of bells, and I am teaching Charlie to ring the bells. Sometimes when Charlie is busy my macro lens finds other things to focus on.

We picked the last of our oranges. Here is the start of next year’s crop.

Each area of the house is a new adventure for Charlie. His approach is very cautious. Outside Charlie is calmly able to explore.

Today, he even watched me go inside, and chose to continue chomping on a twig. He deals with the front of the house differently. The Corona Virus has hindered his socialization. I have taken him out front and from a distance my neighbors have met him. I am holding Charlie, he watches, but there are no tail wags for strangers.

Charlie’s finds plenty of distractions outdoors

The past two days the new experience has been riding in the car. Our 2-hour ride home from Serenity Springs Labradoodles ended with Charlie’s breakfast all over me. So for these two short trips I decided to feed him when we returned. Yesterday we drove to my daughter’s house and showed my grandsons the new pup. Charlie was stressed out, and after lunch took a long nap. Today we picked up our online nursery shopping at Green Acres Nursery. The order went in a couple of days ago, and I got the call to pick up our vegetables this afternoon. This time I brought some water for Charlie, and I think he felt comfortable enough to sleep. Not too interested in looking out the window yet.

My husband planted 5 types of tomatoes, 1 pepper, 1 two-toned squash, and 1 eggplant.

My Citronella Plant is in bloom
Queen’s Tears from the Bromeliad family

Charlie’s nature is to remain cautious with new experiences. Staying home works with my nature as well. I like a peaceful environment, sunny days outdoors in my backyard, and a relaxing agenda. I like to focus on one thing at a time. And with a new puppy that is about all that I can accomplish. So I will set my site on that and call it a day fulfilled. The garage can wait, the quilting can wait, and the piles of stuff will remain in neat piles. And that is all for now.

Well, not exactly. The answer to my question is not really! Hey, but that is life. What is your take on the subject?