Saturday, January 9, 2010

"Poppy Fields II"

As a former biology teacher, plants and animals are always of interest to me. Wildflower season, whether in the Midwest where I grew up, or in California where I now live, is always a special time. I try to visit areas left unspoiled by the activities of man during those times as often as I can.

The vistas at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in Lancaster, California, offer spectacular color even in years when the California Poppies are not in full bloom. Many other species, including lupine, owl's clover, and goldfield (the yellow stripes in this photograph), share the landscape.

Photographing these beautiful flowers is fun and often tricky. In the early morning, when the light is often most interesting, the flowers haven't opened up yet, and by the time they do open up, the winds have often picked up, making capturing close-ups of your favorite flowers more difficult. Partly cloudy or cloudy days often work well for photographing wildflowers because shadows are less problematic and colors can be rendered without glare.

I always take a variety of lenses to allow for close-up shooting and expansive panoramas, and then I just wait to see what the weather will bring. No matter what I capture (or don't) I'm never disappointed on wildflower excursions.

Incidentally, several years ago I made an image that was similar to this one. It was punctuated by two horses with riders in the far distant corner. Limited editions of that image, in several sizes, sold out. I wonder whether the tiny empty bench in this image will be as compelling as the horses.

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