Old Sacramento is a classic, historical gem graced by the Sacramento River flowing beside it. You really don’t know here to look next with all the varied activity. And remember, this is not some fake old town like some carnival midway. In fact, this is the real deal that dates back to 1839 when John Sutter arrived on the banks of the river with the promise of a land grant. He started to build a commercial center – rivers were key then with shipping trade via boats – but gold was discovered in the hills in 1848, the flood of those seeking riches really made Sacramento into a city. And eventually most of Old Town’s 28 acres into a California State Historic Park.

Photographing Old Sacramento river reflections with a goose at night.

The subject: A goose. Yup, a goose. He (she?) was paddling along the Sacramento River next to the Tower Bridge where it runs beside Old Sacramento. Even these birds make the Old Town more appealing today. The area fell into disrepair, as did most city centers, but was renovated in the ‘70s to create a draw for tourists and locals alike. Unfortunately, in June 2017, the old wood planks that impart a wonderful feel to the river area will be torn out and replaced with stamped concrete (to resemble wood) due to an ADA lawsuit.

The inspiration: A beautiful stream of reflected light fell across the river from Old Sacramento and its lights. I was standing on the opposite side of the bridge from Old Town. Now, if only that goose would swim over into the right place…. Com’on, goosie, goosie…. The color was spectacular on this late winter day after sunset as I played with – and was trying to get better at — taking photos at night. And finally the goose paddled over where I wanted it.

Artist’s tools: My Nikon D90 has served me well for many an adventure, as does the 18-105mm lens f/3.5-5.6, both of which I got when I returned to photography after about 25 years! What I like about this focal length on a lens is its ability to capture almost everything for me without fiddling with changing lens or being draped with several cameras with different lenses. For this particular photo, I had my trusty steed on a tripod – using a remote release – as I was trying to catch this silly goose in the reflected light of Old Sacramento. I was set at a slow 1/2th of a second at f/7.1 with a longer focal length of 70mm. I prefer more realistic photos so I also try to avoid over-processing. This was taken in March 2016.