Carmichael (CA), Oak Tree Bark Layers, Contrast, Monochrome

•August 29, 2015 • Leave a Comment
ISO100, 35mm (prime lens), f/4, 1/80 sec

Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Ancil Hoffman Park, Carmichael, CA

This photograph was process and cued up ready for blogging on 3/13/2015.  It shortly after this date that I made the decision to stop blogging for the foreseeable future in order to focus on other aspects of life.

There are currently less than 10 photographs in the portfolio that “make the cut” and are possible photographs for this blog.  So there is still a long ways to go before I can build that portfolio up again.

But for a moment, let us get back to the photograph at hand.  In the middle of suburbia in Sacramento, there are pockets of nature and wildlife, with the Effie Yeaw Nature Center being a stand-out. Yet in the midst of the deer, squirrels, birds, and multiple flocks female turkeys being courted by the tom (male) turkeys, it was the trunk of this long dead tree.  Though we were not quite sure what cause its demise or what happened after, it was still a striking to look at.  Blackened interior, a curved white middle layer, and then the remaining outer bark.  Trees have always been her thing, another connection to nature. something most of us pass by without a thought.  It was worth going “off trail” to see up close.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO100, 35mm (prime lens), f/4, 1/80 sec

Carmichael (CA), Oak Tree Bark Layers, Contrast, Monochrome.  Carmichael, CA. March 07, 2015. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

To blog or not to blog

•July 19, 2015 • 3 Comments

I composed the quoted post below 4 months ago (3/28/2015 to be exact) to explain why I was going to suspend posting to this blog indefinitely, but I never got around to publishing it.  Not blogging and not making photography a priority was one of the choices I made so I could focus on other parts of my life.

Three years ago, I started this blog as an outlet for my photographs.  Maybe the photographs were not great at first, but enough to garner a couple of ribbons at the local fair which included selling one of those photos while it was on display.  Maybe I had a smidgen of hope to continue with this hobby and build it into a side business? Well the business part happened without great effort. The only problem was that I could never get myself to charge “appropriate” prices.  Low would be an understatement.  But I was really just happy for people to want my photos hanging in their homes. I knew landscape photographers that could make a good living were rare. Those that could had talent, self-promotion, and lots of time to shoot. I don’t think I ever had all of these elements together at once. Those that have been reading my blog have seen, the posts over the last 9 months have dwindled.  Priorities and the nature of my activities changed.  We suffered a personal loss last year. I maybe initially tried to mask it by trying to go out and shoot as a form of therapy.  It was likely counterproductive for us. When we finally got back into short and medium trail hiking, the idea of hauling a tripod and a heavy dSLR didn’t seem enticing. I ended up carrying my cell phone camera instead. It was better to enjoy the moments than perfectly capturing the next great photograph. So it is easy for me to make the decision to suspend this blog indefinitely. Reaching the masses, building a photography career, no longer a priority. The existing posts will remain as an archive of the last three years. I do thank the readers of this blog for following my journey from a picture taker to (hopefully) a photographer. I will keep taking photographs and perhaps privately journal my thoughts. If the time ever comes to share publicly again, I will have lots of material! Signing off…Steve

Sacramento (CA), Vintage Winged Radiator Cap, Shallow DOF, Monochrome

•March 11, 2015 • Leave a Comment
ISO400, 35mm (prime lens), f/1.8, 1/60 sec

California Automobile Museum, Sacramento, CA

The power of photographs.  Over time memories fade, become biased, and are generally inaccurate.  Yet somehow, with a photograph in hand, the mind is triggered to remember details it might otherwise forget.  We are transported back to the moment.  What might otherwise be completely forgotten is etched.

I tend to stand on a soapbox from time to time advocating for photographers to take a moment and enjoy the where you are and what you see.  Do not be stuck behind that viewfinder or staring at the camera phone screen rather than taking in the actual scene in front of you.  And for the most part, I do follow my own advice.  The only hitch is I sometimes get into the habit of taking a photograph with both my dSLR and my camera phone!  Why, you ask?  I spend more time looking back at our outings and adventures through my camera phone photos than on my home workstation (which is where my dSLR photos are stored).

As for this photograph and remember where in the automobile museum we were, the sense of amazement we had looking at the row of vintage cars, and even the specific details that caught our eye.  So I can understand folks that snap away at everything, but still remember to look beyond the viewfinder or screen and enjoy the moment.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO400, 35mm (prime lens), f/1.8, 1/60 sec

Sacramento (CA), Vintage Winged Radiator Cap, Shallow DOF, Monochrome.  Sacramento, CA. February 07, 2015. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

San Francisco, Under Leaf, Veins, Water Droplets

•March 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment
ISO320, 38mm, f/4.8, 1/40 sec

Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco, CA

All you have to do is look up sometimes, or at least be told to look up as was the case here.  We were wandering through the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, admiring and carefully trying to take photographs of tiny orchids, flowers, and plant details.  At times, taking almost as much time looking at our camera phones and camera viewfinders than at the actual plants.  Though I was seated on a stone bench at the time, enjoying the very large tropical plants, it did not occur to me to look up.  Right above us was a giant leaf with water droplets backlit by the sunlight coming in through the Conservatory’s greenhouse glass.

Fortunately for us, with our annual membership to the Conservatory, we will have time in the future to look up and see new sights such as this.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO320, 38mm, f/4.8, 1/40 sec

San Francisco, Under Leaf, Veins, Water Droplets.  San Francisco, CA. February 21, 2015. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Berkeley (CA), Concrete Stairwell, Light Bulbs, Shadows

•February 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment
ISO100, 18mm, f/14, 1.6 sec

Berkeley City Club, Berkeley, CA

The last time I was in Berkeley, it was specifically to take photographs inside the famous Berkeley City Club.  Designed by Julia Morgan (the architect of Hearst Castle) and built in 1929, this steel-reinforced concrete building dubbed “The Little Castle” began as a women’s only social club with 5,000 members and residence to now a club with both women and men and doubles as a historic hotel.

This time, we were here as hotel guests.  Quaint and perhaps a little dated by today’s luxury hotel standards, it was the cozy, intimate, and throwback vibe that made it a perfect weekend stay location.

Shockingly, in the 3 days spent as a guest, this was the only composition made with the dSLR camera and only 2 shots were taken.  There are times when it is better to enjoy the surroundings and the person you are there with than the need to capture every nook and cranny with a camera and a tripod.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO100, 18mm, f/14, 1.6 sec

Berkeley (CA), Concrete Stairwell, Light Bulbs, Shadows.  Berkeley, CA. February 22, 2015. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

El Dorado Hills (CA), Foggy Haze, Layered Hills, Tree

•February 18, 2015 • Leave a Comment
ISO100, 135mm, f/8, 1/2000 sec

El Dorado Hills, CA

It has been some time since the last post on this blog.  More important, and often fun, priorities have been at the forefront.  The occasional photo opportunities lately usually involve spontaneous shots such as walking outside during a break at work or on a drive either to or from a destination.

Not wanting to sound like a broken record for the 3rd straight year, but this has been a dry winter.  Great for outdoor activities, but horrible for the on-going drought in California.  Strangely, a heavy fog lingered in the area for most of the day and resulted in an even haze by late afternoon.  The photograph in this post is a product of almost daily drive-bys on the way home.  While some of the interesting sunsets have almost caused me to stop for a shot, it was this perfectly smooth backlit composition that made me finally search out a parking spot and take a few shots.

In post, the thought was to keep the photograph in the natural “color” and not convert to black and white.  The second thought was to crop to a 16×9 ratio.  I wanted to keep the 3 layers of hills and the bright sky.  The 4th, barely visible hill in the foreground, is a bit of a distraction, but cropping it out would result in an even more unconventional ratio beyond 16×9.  I may eventually apply a graduated filter in post to blend the 4th hill into the 3rd.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO100, 135mm, f/8, 1/2000 sec

El Dorado Hills (CA), Foggy Haze, Layered Hills, Tree.  El Dorado Hills, CA. February 17, 2015. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Amador County (CA), Three Layers of Rough Clouds, Sunset Light

•January 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment
ISO100, 66mm, f/4.2, 1/13 sec

Amador County, CA

When you are get out of the flow of shooting, it is important to take the opportunities to shoot when they come.  While not every opportunity and not every photograph ends up being good, or even great, there is something to be learned each and every time.  So take those extra couple of minutes and snap that shutter.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO100, 66mm, f/4.2, 1/13 sec

Amador County (CA), Three Layers of Rough Clouds, Sunset Light.  Ione, CA. December 24, 2014. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.


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