Anza-Borrego Dune Evening Primrose
full print size of 28.6x37.6 inches @304.8ppi, above displayed at 1/178
Copyright © David Senesac 2005 view detailed crop
Anza-Borrego State Park, San Diego County
early morning Thursday February 16, 2005, slide 05-B-24
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 top 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.
The big storm arrived late Friday afternoon, and then lingered through Saturday. On a partly cloudy Sunday I was able to photography several nice images about 40 miles to the south before clouds moved back in. I drove to the northern Borrego Valley area for the night. On Monday clouds covered the skies so I spent the day exploring various areas for potential images. On a hike of a few miles, I discovered some hidden pristine sand dunes covered by peaking sand verbena. The forecasts were gloomy and I considered giving up and driving back north. However experience told me that stormy weather especially in deserts is likely to surprise one with periods of blue sucker holes. Thus I gambled staying a few more days hoping to get an unexpected break in the constant clouds and showers. And that break occurred three days later on Thursday morning.
At daybreak I quickly gathered gear and hiked out to these sand dunes.
I saw only one set of footprints about the area, which was surprising for such a special area in a park, which was crawling with cameras. Just goes to show how few photographers bother to explore much beyond roads. Surveying the dunes very carefully for half an hour, I selected this area to compose the most important image when morning light would be best. During the survey, I was quite careful to walk on the soft sand only in places, which would obviously not be in any frames. And also as a courtesy to anyone else that might come by after me. I set up for a different image than this with more areas of open sand I market on the index, 05-B6-3, waiting for the sun to clear a band of clouds to the east. Commercial jets were leaving several jet streaks in the sky right in my frame. Soon the jet streaks began to vaporize, sun cleared the blocking clouds, and a fine set of cirrus marched across now deep blue skies in my frame. After taking the first frame just to the right of this image's position, I moved left a bit right and quickly set up for this second image that has more wildflowers. Most of the superb cloud that was captured in the other image had moved out of the frame by time I exposed this sheet of Provia.
The large fragrant white hued blooms of dune evening primrose, oenthera deltoides, were was my foreground subject for this frame while the more numerous magenta hued flowers are sand verbena, abronia villosa, a very common fragrant annual in southwest sandy desert areas during spring. Dune sunflower, helianthus niveus ssp. canescens, are the large yellow hued flowers with brown centers. A bit back in the flowers at left one can see a few characteristically shaped leaves of one of the lupines that had not yet bloomed. On the skyline and behind the sand verbena at left are a few creosote bushes, larrea tridentata, one of the most dominant drought adapted shrubs of Sonora and Mojave deserts. Note the dappled pattern on the sand was due to some large rain drops with the very heavy rains that week.