Anza-Borrego Ocotillo Wildflower Ravine
full print size of 29.6x37.6 inches @304.8ppi, above displayed at 1/178
Copyright © David Senesac 2005 view detailed crop
Anza-Borrego State Park, San Diego County
early Sunday afternoon February 13, 2005, slide 05-B-17
Wisner 4x5 Expedition, 90mm Caltar, Gitzo G1325 Mk2
Tango Drum scanned Fuji Provia 100F 4x5 film to 300mb RGB file
Adobe Photoshop 6.0 processed for accurate image fidelity
Lightjet5000 printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
signature bottom mid right
Early in February of 2005 reports were coming in of spectacular wildflowers suddenly sprouting up at Anza-Borrego State Park. Considerable early winter rains had broken a long six-year drought over much of the southwest and plants were responding. The park is the largest in the California state park system. It lies within the Sonora Desert due east of the mountain ranges east of San Diego and west of the valley areas about the Salton Sea. I had been trying to make a week long road trip down there from the SF Bay Area but storms had been keeping the weather too active. A very large storm was forecast to slowly move into Southern California. At first I balked at starting the trip but long-term forecasts were for continued unsettled conditions. Waiting any longer chanced missing the peak conditions. Thus I gambled with a plan to drive down just before the storm hit and hopefully catch enough sun and blue skies to get in some photography. It was my first photography road trip of 2005 and the first time to this most southern park ever.
Friday afternoon, I parked my old Suburu sedan at a pleasant view spot about the Carrizo Badlands overlook area along highway S2 and set up my crowded interior to endure the lengthy storm. Rains arrived late Friday afternoon and were very heavy for several hours during the night, which caused flash flooding throughout the California desert areas. By mid Saturday morning conditions turned more showery which lasted through the afternoon. In rain gear, I spent much of Saturday exploring the Sweeney Pass areas for good wildflower images. I had come upon the ravine in this image, which was not far from the highway and one of many with nice possibilities. Late in the afternoon, I lugged gear in my backpack the short distance from the road, setting up a pleasant tent camp amid stunning views of wildflowers, cactus, and ocotillo. A wonderful evening and peaceful night ensued. It was far too early in the season for any bugs so my two tent doors were left wide open.
Dawn broke Sunday with just a few clouds, crystal clear skies, and hardly a breeze. Clouds along with a breeze however increased during the morning. Early in the afternoon I set up this nearby shot, which had the best combination of ocotillo and dense multicolor wildflower displays. Wildflowers often photograph best while the sun is relatively high in the sky, which causes the translucent components to glow from within. The dominant flower in the frame is our famous orange California poppies, eschsholtzia californica. Lovely purple-blue hues of tall Arizona lupines, lupinus arizonicus, were absolutely peaking during my visit some of which poke up into the blue sky here. Competing at mid frame left with glowing bright magenta flowers are Bigelow monkey flower, mimulus bigelovii. And mid right are a few light yellow hued brown-eyed evening primrose, camissonia claviformis, which were the most abundant annual at the time throughout the park. Against the sky are the long stems of several spectacular ocotillo, fouquieria splendens. The red ends on some branches are buds, which were still at least a month away from blooming. These strange desert plants often provide terrific silhouettes at dawn and dusk. The long spines of several teddy bear cholla, opuntia bigelovii, also not yet in bloom share the frame. I found the chollas to be quite ornery critters in the area, always eager to grab onto my pant cuffs. At frame right, poking up a bit above this shallow rocky ravine, the mostly barren Coyote Mountains, a small sub 2000 foot elevation range of relatively barren badlands. I had such a pleasant time at this colorful area that I am sure to return during a future wet season. This colorful glowing image of colors will always remind me of how wonderful it was.