Welcome to spring! Here on the California coast winter is becoming summer. The rainy season is pretty much over and the sky is blue, the air is warm, the summer fog is still a couple of months away, the hiking season is in full swing and the top is down on my car. The wildflowers are coming out and the California Poppy, one of my favorite flowers, is showing up everywhere. I’ve been photographing them every year since I came to California and I still enjoy looking for the perfect poppy to make into an image.
The California Poppy is our state flower and it can be found throughout the state. One of my favorite places to photograph poppies is at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve near Lancaster, CA. Access is easy and the reserve is full of many different species of flowers in addition to the poppies. Only a few miles to the west is the Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park which highlights Joshua Trees. The Joshua Trees and poppies are in bloom at this time of year and both parks are worth a visit.
I find the poppy to be the most photogenic flower of all. When the poppies first open, they are somewhat parabolic in shape as if they are focusing the sun’s light and energy. After a few days, they open wide to the sun. My favorite poppy image is the one above and it is one of my first. I call it “Almaden Spring” because it was on a hillside near my old house in Almaden Valley. One day there were no flowers on the hillside and the next the hill was covered in poppies. Within a couple of days, the hill was an explosion of orange and yellow as all of the poppies opened to the sun. I crawled all over the hill, camera and tripod in hand, looking for one that inspired me and there it was. The air was still and the sun was shining through the petals. I was able to get below the flower and shoot upwards into it.
This particular hill was home to several rattlesnakes that my beagle, Critter, managed to find on another occasion and, as a result, I didn’t want to lay in the dirt too long. As it turned out, I didn’t need to. Everything was right and I made the exposure. After that day, my spring focus (sorry, I can’t help it!) has been poppies. Future blogs will talk more about my poppy adventures.
Now open yourself to spring like the poppy. Get outdoors, wherever you are. Hike, work in the yard, get on a horse, paddle a kayak. Do whatever takes you into the great outdoors. Spring has sprung!