I live near a rail town museum, a place that is all about trains and, in particular, steam trains from "back in the day." I photograph there on occasion as a volunteer photographer so I have open access to the buildings and events. On June 1 there was a steam train event for Engine 28, an engine that has been restored over the last couple of years. "She" came out for her christening and the public got to ride behind her throughout the day. People seem to love these old trains but I have yet to come to that. I am not a train buff, but I do see it as an opportunity to take photographs. Oddly, each time I actually do get there and take the photos I love the resulting images. Trains are a nice subject to photograph. Of course, I call this "The Christening."
Photographing spring flowers is a challenge I love. Trying to isolate a flower in the middle of a field can be next to impossible and figuring how how to do that is always a challenge. The colors of spring are so inviting and happy and I am finding that I love to photograph wildflowers.
I am a serious and dedicated non-professional photographer. Most of what I do is based on photography. Recently I entered a local competition, called " In Focus. " I was fortunate to get four (above) of my six entries accepted into the show. About 400 people submitted images and only 180 or so were hung. I consider it winning each time I get an image into any show. Actually winning an award is "icing on the cake." In this case, I was happy to hear that I had won two awards for a leaf image and a frog image. A second place award in two different categories. I like to win awards because it is a verification that I am continuing to learn and grow in photography and it shows in my work. Being acknowledged for my photography work is what counts for me. I was curious, however, about why the young girl was not considered for an award as I thought the image was very well done. I asked the judge at the reception why the image was "not compelling enough for an award." His response was a bit of a surprise to me; he asked me if I had "more images like this" and said it reminded him of Grant Wood's American Gothic couple (although he could not remember the artist who created the image). I was confused and not sure how to answer him as the shot was taken from a plaza in Cuba and was not set up. I gathered that he thought I had set up the shot and perhaps I had more from that shoot. This young girl really was dressed this way and really did open a door and stand in it with her broom. Within a few minutes of photographing her a police officer shooed us away and told her to go inside. This conversation confirmed for me that judges "judge" blindly in more than one way. I think they often look at a photograph during judging and make assumptions that are not correct and then judge on the incorrect assumption. I guess I should be flattered in a way as the image he was referring to is considered famous and has risen to the statue of a "cultural icon." For me, the image is a once-in-a-lifetime image and it is now saved for eternity (or as long as I live anyway!).
Cuba. We might all think of something different when we think of Cuba. If you had asked me to say something about what I thought Cuba might be before I went there I would have said, “not modern, stifled, downtrodden, communist and closed,” and other similar adjectives to that. In truth, however, Cuba is many things, some of which may be described by the adjectives I mentioned but other descriptions would be very different. It is also modern, wealthy, and filled with people who are warm-spirted and enterprising. I saw high-rise 5-star+ hotels being built and stayed in a beautiful 5-star hotel located in Old Havana. There were many automobiles of all varieties and the homes ranged from poor to upscale. Yes, poverty was all around me, as is seen in many countries, but the people seemed happy and were industrious and most were very welcoming and gracious. I was often asked by people on the streets to take their photograph and a couple of times I was invited into their home to view it and talk.
I am a sucker for animals, I freely admit it. One of the reasons that I love to go to Carmel Beach is because I can let my dog, Gracie, run free there. No leashes are required! That is rare in California, where I pay my state taxes but cannot even take my dog to a state park!! It is so much fun to see all of the dogs running freely and having a good time together. Gracie loves it and takes off to visit with every dog she sees. So far, all of the dogs and people we have run across have acted responsibly. I always take photos of the dogs having a great time, it just makes me feel good. So, enjoy my photos of the Dogs of Carmel Beach. P.S. My Gracie is the black funny-looking pup.
In early July I was in Costa Rica photographing wild animals in the jungle. We were on the Osa Peninsula and the area was beautiful, hot, and extremely humid. We dripped sweat in buckets almost before we got into the vehicles. We traveled over a lot of bumpy dirt roads and saw a lot of jungle scenery as well as many animals including several different types of monkeys, a sloth, an ant-eater, lizards, colorful frogs and snakes, and one animal that looked like a large pig that we were told is the largest mammal in Costa Rica. The conditions to photograph the animals in were difficult almost all the time but the challenge was amazing to me. I hope you enjoy the few photos I've posted here for your viewing enjoyment.
In June I visited Yellowstone National Park for the third time. The park is huge, encompassing a total of more than 2.2 million acres. I'm much more used to Yosemite National Park and the valley floor, which is only 7.5 miles long and 1 mile wide, there is a big difference between these two parks.
Yellowstone is interesting to some degree just for the fact of its different communities that are frequent users of the park, groups like the bear "groupies" and the wolf-watchers. There was actually one RV that had a license that said, "Bearjam." People who visit often know the names of the different bears and where the bears mostly travel and/or the names of the major wolves in the wolf pack they follow. Most of these people also know the history of the animals they follow.
I go to take photographs and I generally have no clue what bear I am photographing, but I do enjoy getting to see the mama bears (sows) and their cubs. The cubs are just way too cute to watch. This time one sow had three cubs and one of them was too adventurous for his or her own good and was into everything and way ahead of the others. At one point this little cub, and these were all newborn this year, stood up tall, then sort of tottered backward slowly and plopped down: I can only assume he had not mastered the art of standing up yet.
June is a good time to visit the park if you want to see babies: bear cubs, elk and pronghorn young, Bighorn sheep youngsters, and bison babies for the most part. For landscape shots, the fall colors are very nice and then the elk are in rut so you can get photos of elk strutting about to impress the ladies.
I love this park and all that it offers and wide open spaces in it are incredible.
Once again, I am writing about Yosemite but it seems fitting since spring has arrived in our area. I live less than two hours away from Yosemite National Park and I try to get there several times a year outside of the summer tourist season. This year I did something a little different and I signed up to go with a photography tour group that went in May. Normally, since I go to the park often, I would go alone or with some friends. I thought that maybe, by signing up with a group, I might get the benefit of the knowledge of the guides and learn some new places to photograph in the park. As it turned out, I did find at least one new place but most of the time I knew the sites we went to. However, the guides got us there at the right time and in the right exact place to get a good shot so I was very happy to be a part of the tour. The group I went with was Gary Hart Photography and this was my second experience with Gary. On both trips I had a wonderful time and got some really nice photos.
I live in the Sierra foothills and I can be in the valley of Yosemite National Park in under two hours if I don’t stop along the way, so it’s easy enough to take a day trip. A friend and I took a day trip in mid-March to see what we could find to photograph in the park. I think there are good months and not-as-good months to photograph in the park and in mid-March it can be difficult to find good, well-lighted or interesting subjects unless there is a storm brewing or clearing, then Tunnel View is the place to head. But we were able to take some decent shots anyway, even without a storm, it was, as always, nice to be in the park. Half Dome offered us some reflections from Cook’s Meadow and lower Yosemite Fall was in fine form with lots of water. The Merced River was beautiful as always and offered some reflection shots, too. Bridal View Fall shot from Tunnel View, this one in black and white, offered a good opportunity as well. It had just snowed the day before so were also able to find some nice snow-covered tree shots. Even a day of not-so-great photos in Yosemite is a wonderful day. I plan to take a four-day trip in April to shoot some night shots and some shots of the beautiful dogwood that should be just about perfect at that time.
Learning to live with what life sends our way can be so difficult at times. In February 2008 my husband, Jack Cassinetto, a great artist and wonderful person, became critically ill with right tonsil cancer. When I told him what the doctor said, "yes, it is cancer," the light began to fade from his beautiful big brown eyes and, over the last 10 years, it never really returned in the same way. In addition to being ill with the cancer he became extremely mentally ill and I was left to cope, almost alone, with this over the last 10 years. Our entire life changed in that instant and all that was so good about it was gone for good. I had very little support from his family and I had no family nearby. His son tried to assist us but he was working and making a living in a city 100 miles away and he really had no idea how to help. In about 2016 Jack became more of who he used to be mentally, but was failing physically, and my mind, battered from extreme stress and pain, also started to heal. We had a couple of almost good years together and we talked about his art and my photography, although we did nothing else together; he would no longer travel and had no interest in doing anything other than art and he was really never the same person again. I was ok with where the relationship was at and, I learned to live with it and struggled to make something of my life with photography as well: I supported his artwork 100% so that he could continue to have that passion in his life. On January 4, 2018, at the age of 73 my husband passed away peacefully in his sleep. Now he is out of the pain that he had been in for the last 10 years but I am so saddened by this loss; he was my best friend, my mentor, my anchor. Some of the last 10 years had been so very tough and so very terrible but I would do anything to have him back again, just to talk with him for a few minutes even. I will miss his sense of humor, which he did partially get back, and his love for me. In his honor I am sharing some photos of him, mostly taken by me, over the last 10 years as I learned about photography. He created great artwork right up until the very last days of his life.