Painting is just another way of keeping a diary ~Pablo Picasso

Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue Moon

I'm taking a one day break from my black and white project to honor a very special day.  Not only is today a blue moon, meaning it's the second full moon in the month, but it is also my daughter's birthday!  A blue moon happens every few years, based on the cycle of the moon which is just slightly shorter than a month.  And at our house we celebrate birthdays and blue moons because Anna was born on a blue moon.  However today is the first time since her birth that a blue moon coincided with her birthday!  Our first blue moon celebration must have come when she was about 2 1/2, during the height of the Beanie Baby craze, because we got her a Beanie Baby cat.  And every blue moon since then she has gotten a Beanie Baby cat.  Today that involves searching on ebay or in local antique stores, and of course I have to find one that she doesn't already have!  As to the photo, it was taken during this first full moon this month.  I headed outside to get the morning paper (Sacbee!) on August 2nd and spotted the setting moon and this unusual cloud formation being lit by the rising sun.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Day 14 in black and white.  Next stop on the Point Reyes trip was the small community of Inverness.  This was taken about a half hour before sunrise and what was interesting to me was the band of white light that appeared right at the edge of the far shoreline.  It definitely helps define the photo better as a black and white.  We only stayed here for a few minutes, but the light was changing quickly; by the time we left, that band of white light had disappeared.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tomales Bay

Day 13 in black and white, and my first field trip of the school year, a predawn trip to Point Reyes.  This was one of my first photos, and I'm very emotionally attached to it, because we stumbled upon the scene and the light was amazingly beautiful.  I'm really frustrated with how it converted though.  It should look like glowing predawn nighttime, and I think it looks both too bright and too dull.  In color it's a midnight blue, and the one light on is glowing orange.   I accidentally underexposed it, but I think this is because my eyes were so adjusted to the darkness that my display panel looked deceptively bright, and I didn't check the histogram.  Anyway, I've got several more photos from the trip that I want to post, so maybe I can use my time off to read up on how to better convert images in black and white!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sage Flower

Day 12 in black and white.  A silhouette of sage flowers growing along the path near West Davis Pond.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Taffy and Her Humans

Day 11 of my black and white project.  Taffy the dog stands guard as her humans take a break during their morning walk.  I'm imagining that Taffy leads a quiet and somewhat pampered life.  As to lighting, this was probably around 8:30am, and I think I was pushing the limit on side lighting because the light is starting to get too harsh.  Also I wish I would have moved a little further to the right before I took this, just to give Taffy her own space.  I think she's cute though, and I like the story here, so I guess this photo is more about the story than the light.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Under the Causeway

Day 10 in black and white.  Technically this is the Yolo Bypass of the Sacramento River, but in the summer months it's really just a little pond under the causeway.  I decided to try a photo here as I passed overhead on my way home from Sacramento.  In addition to the echo of all the traffic, I could here a lot of different birds under here, but this egret was the only one I saw.  I followed him from one column to another as he hunted.  I'm sure he probably helps the photo, but the thing I most notice is the dark arrow shape he's standing in.  I mentioned in a previous post that I have several options in converting an image to black and white.  This time I picked urban landscape, because it made that arrow shape the darkest.  The shape is mainly coming from the reflection of the rusty brown underside of the bridge.  I think urban landscape must give the most contrast to red tones.  And the lighting count so far:  back lighting 8, side lighting 2

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Day 9 of my black and white project.  I thought it was interesting that these people cast such a variety of different shadow shapes.  And of course the light was good.   At this point in my project, light still trumps subject matter. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lagoon Valley

Day 8 in black and white.  Clover and I headed out early for a walk at Lagoon Valley.  I was hoping to get there before the sun came over the hills, but we weren't quite that early.  There are a lot of possible trails here, and it's definitely a favorite dog walking and exercising location in the Vacaville area.  We took the loop around the lake, mainly because I thought it would offer the best contrast for photos.  Since this was a new trail for Clover, she wanted to stop about every 10 ft. to sniff around.  We made very compatible walking partners today, because I wanted to stop about every 10 ft. to get a photo!  :)  This might be the first photo I've done in this project that I actually like better in black and white.  The hills are a washed out brown, and the trees are a muddy green.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Going Up

Day 7 in black and white.  I was on campus today so I stopped by the Social Sciences and Humanities Building, aka the Death Star.  It's been a while since I've photographed here, but I really needed a change in photo scenery.  I was going for a dark image with a little glowing light at the top, although I'm not sure how effective it is.  I like it a little better in color because there's a warm and cool cast that is nice.  Anyway the backlighting count stands at 6 out of 7. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Day 6 of the bw project.  I guess I've figured out one thing that works pretty consistently: backlighting.  Also I have to admit that some things do look better in black and white. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bike Loop

Day 5 of the black and white project.  Today was the first day I felt like I was starting to see in black and white a little.  (Stress on a little!)  At this point, the project is both fun and frustrating.  And it is reminding me of my early days at this blog because I have to take a lot of shots to figure out what works and what doesn't;  it's time-consuming!  I feel like I spent a lot of time on this shot, and I guess I'm OK with it.  I photographed at this location early this morning in very different lighting.  The background was lit and the foreground tree and fence were silhouetted.  But the photo was boring to me, and I found myself wishing that someone were moving through the scene.  This one was taken just before dinner time, and I do like the movement, but maybe the tree light isn't quite as strong.  Anyway, what I keep thinking about is why was the shot without the people boring to me?  I took a photo in almost this exact location (minus the fence) on March 30th and didn't mind the lack of people at all.  Maybe just still my bias against black and white, or my reliance on color to carry a photo. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's just a leaf

I'm not that excited about this one.  I was walking Clover and noticed the first autumn leaf lying on the ground.  I guess the main problem I have with this photo is that it doesn't look like a fall leaf.  In color it's bright red and yellow.  When I converted it to black and white I chose the infrared option.  I need to explore more about converting photos to black and white, but infrared seems to turn green to white, and because the veins were a greenish-yellow color they turned more white.  Also I held the leaf up to the sun, which is what gives it the nice glow.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Central Valley Sunrise

This week I accepted a challenge from a fellow photographer to photograph only in black and white for a while.  Actually the challenge was to do 100 calendar shots converted to black and white, but I don't take the "calendar shot" often enough on the blog for that to be worthwhile.  So I've decided to do 100 blog shots with my photo converted to black and white.  This does pose a HUGE challenge to me, because I know my photos usually rely on a certain few elements, and color is VERY high up on the list.  I use it a lot to create mood, which is probably what I like best in a photo.  And while I do hope to become a better black and white photographer, the idea behind this project is to improve my color photography by focusing on some other elements for a while.  And also to have the challenge :)
I have to admit I have a bias against black and white photography.   It's usually not that interesting to me.   In only three days of trying to shoot black and white, I realize that I am completely dependent on the light, and I think that is what makes the shots boring to me.  So for now at least, my challenge is to simultaneously find good light and something that I would be interested in photographing.  I expect that I will be VERY critical of what I'm doing for a while, and I'm apologizing for that up front.  This is actually how my blog started practice and self-critique, and I've gotten away from that in the past year.

Anyway, later today I'm going to view a new exhibit at The Crocker in Sacramento.   Brought to Light: Masterworks of Photography from the Crocker Art Museum.  I'm hoping I will see some interesting subject matter, and I'm especially interested to view the black and whites and see what inspiration I can take away.  (And also I wanted to post before I went, because I bet I'll be more critical of my photos after the exhibit!)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Yolo Idol

The setting sun lights up the audience just before the start 
of the Yolo County Fair Idol Contest last night.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday's Cut Flower

I forgot to mention the Yolo County Fair "Hall of Flowers" in yesterday's post.  Along with the many displays of potted plants and fun themed arrangements are the cut flowers.  There are two different cut flower competitions, Thursday and Saturday.  All of Thursday's flowers arrived freshly cut this morning and ready for their 10:30am judging time.  Judging was ongoing when I took this photo, so I don't know which is the winning flower, but this dahlia was my favorite!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Yolo County Fair

Well today the Yolo County Fair finally started!  I just LOVE the county fair!   I've been to a lot of different county fairs because we've moved so many times, and I really think the Yolo County Fair is the best one I've seen.  For one thing, it's the largest and oldest free gate fair in California.  Free!  They have tremendous support from the community to do this.  Every one of those ribbons comes with a monetary prize.  Each exhibit room is overflowing with entries, from produce, to olive oil and wine, to baked goods and canning, to sewing and craft, to art and photography, and of course all the animals!  Just around the corner from this preserved food display some baked good judging was going on.  And somewhere on that wall is my jar of applesauce.  :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


It was somewhat overcast all day, and this evening it made for a very interesting sunset!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Now Selling!

About a month ago I put together a calendar of some of my favorite local and regional blog photos from the last year.  This past weekend my shipment of calendars arrived, and I am happy to announce that, as of today my calendars are for sale at The Avid Reader Bookstores in Davis and Sacramento!  :D

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Wild Rose Skipper

I am feeling very low energy today, so I decided to search close to home for my photo.  I ventured no further than my own front yard wild rose bush.  I didn't plan to photograph this little butterfly; he was a pleasant surprise!  At first I thought he was a moth, but I did a little research and decided he's a hesperiidae skipper butterfly, which has some moth-like characteristics.  Guess I was just in the mood for a little soft focus today. With my photography and research behind me, I plan to take it easy for the rest of the day.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Morning Light

I first blogged about this "flower" in the spring, calling it Purple Mystery Flower.  It's not a flower though; it is a very invasive weed.  After it blooms a pod forms and develops into a dandelion-type seed ball.   I guess I just liked how it was glowing in the morning light.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

104° and Sunny

That was our weather forecast today, which is the same as tomorrow's and coincidentally, yesterday's.  Clouds don't figure into many weather forecasts in the summer here, and I tend to avoid photographing too much sky if I can help it.  It's usually a blank canvas in the worst sense.  No mention of clouds in today's forecast, but when I left the house this afternoon to run some errands in town, look what I saw!  This is why I chose to drive in the opposite direction of town, and why I'll have to run my errands tomorrow.  But hey, we had clouds!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Quiet Morning in the Garden

This time of year I just love starting the day in my garden.  The temperature gets into the low 60s overnight, so it's cool and shady, and I can take stock of what has grown the day before.  I'm looking at a very busy couple of days, so a quiet moment in the garden is something I can really appreciate!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


The light was so pretty on the cosmos this morning, I just couldn't help but photograph.  Looks like I wasn't the only one drawn to this flower!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

1000 Paper Cranes

Literally!  I helped Anna string them this week: 25 strings with 40 cranes each.  She made them over the course of this year...just for fun.  Every time I went to Seattle Anna asked me to get more origami paper at Uwajimaya.  In a week and a half her cranes will be on display (and competing) at our county fair.  We had fun figuring out how to best photograph them today.  We were looking for a little movement to make them look fluttery; I hope it isn't too distracting! 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Lake Berryessa

Family hike up here today.  Sorry that I brought the wrong lens, so all I could do was zoom in, and I can't properly show how huge this lake is!  It was still a fun hike.  And we left lots to explore for a future visit.  Next time I'll bring my other lens!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Clean Up Time

The California State Fair ended four days ago, so you were probably thinking I couldn't possibly come up with another fair photo, but today was the day to pick up my photo from the fine arts building, so I got to go back to the Cal Expo Center one more time.  I got to drive through a back entrance and along an access road that leads right to the arts buildings.  It was fun to drive right through the fair like that; the route comes very close to the monorail route actually.  They had collected all the recycling bins right near my building, and I just couldn't resist getting a photo.  Amazing how quickly they have cleaned everything up.  Honestly, I haven't even managed to clean my house in this time! 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Looks what's growing in my garden...

Sunflowers!  We started them from seed back in early May, and this week they finally started blooming.  I've got two varieties:  Autumn Beauty, pictured here in my kitchen window, and Mammoth Russian, which hasn't bloomed yet.  It looks like the Autumn Beauty will continue flower, so that means I should have sunflowers on my kitchen table for a while! 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Coffee Time

Coffee time during our tomato saucing party last weekend was such a nice treat.  Everyone set up in a large open air tent, and we were lucky enough to be near the kitchen end of the tent, with the stove, sink, and coffee-making operation.  One of the Eatwell members owns Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco, and kindly donated coffee for our event.  It was make your own cup.  We poured the boiling water directly into the filter.  It was a delicious cup of coffee; I think everything tastes better after a long day's work outside.  I saved this photo for Wednesday for Ginger from Getting a Foothold.  My contribution to Wednesday Morning Coffee Time :^)