Three Creosote Bushes on California Poppy Plain
full print size of 29.6x37.6 inches @304.8ppi, above displayed at 1/178S
Copyright © David Senesac 2006 view detailed crop
Los Angeles County
mid afternoon Thursday April 20, 2006, slide 06-P-37
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 left
In March through early April, the bulk of several cold though modest storms tracked east into central California while just brushing areas in the southland. Rainfall in the southern state had been meager early in winter then picked up modestly in the late winter. Finally days before Easter Sunday April 16, the National Weather Service began firming up a forecast for a few mostly sunny days.
Sunrise Monday April 17 as the last storm showers were ending over the southern Coast Ranges, I drove south with a plan to investigate conditions at several familiar Southern California wildflower areas as long as sunny skies prevailed. Given the big rain event, I expected Carrizo Plain to offer the best conditions. Internet reports from the previous week indicated there was a decent bloom of goldfields and poppies in one area of Antelope Valley so I expected to visit there too. However unlike Carrizo Plain, storms in April did not add much rain to the Antelope region so I had some doubts as to how productive burning extra gas to venture south would be. After spending a few hours Monday at Shell Creek, I spent Tuesday and Wednesday working Carrizo areas. Wednesday evening I drove the 100 plus miles northeast to Antelope Valley where I spent the night at a remote BLM dirt road.
The next morning I explored the few square miles of poppies and goldfields in the Gaskell Road area, though had only exposed three sheets by late morning. As I had expected, the short yellow hued goldfields that densely cover much of the valley ground were about a week past peak as they had dulled to a more brown look instead of the striking bright yellow when the flowers have freshly bloomed. It is the goldfields, lasthenia chrysotoma, that I consider key for the best California poppy, eschscholtzia californica, photography as they provide a striking electric yellow background.
About noon, I stopped along a dirt side road at a location where some isolated adjacent creosote bushes, larrea tridentata, rose in a dense area of poppies and goldfields. Another photographer 100 yards away was setup up with a long lens on a digital SLR pointing towards some distant eastward hills. On the west lee side of the bushes, goldfields were noticeably fresher yellow than others on the nearby plain. For about 10 minutes I moved about trying to size up the best spot for a 90mm lens foreground with the bushes at middle ground about 25 feet distant. I tend to be a patient perfectionist about getting the best foreground aesthetics and geometry in compositions. Finally decided on a spot and tripod height that allowed views of the orange plains behind through the bush branches at mid height. This was possible because of a gentle upward rise in the plain eastward. Something about the foreground pattern of poppies and goldfields seemed to cause my eye's visual focus to swirl about. Very nice indeed! A white SUV was parked along a road in the distance, so I adjusted my camera position slightly in order for some of the creosote branches to block its view. Despite the nearly constant breezes, as soon as I'd set up for the shot and shoved in the film holder, a fortuitous moment of calm occurred so I immediately depressed the shutter.
Also in the frame's foreground, one can see a few small pink red-stemmed filaree, erodium cicutarium, and small blue miniature lupine, lupinus bicolor. Beneath the strong scented creosote bush at left are small orange hued fiddleneck, amsinckia tessellata, with light green clumps of equally aromatic rabbitbrush, chrysothamnus nauseosus ssp. mohavensis, in the distance. To the left of the right creosote bush low in the background about ten miles distant, is Fairmont Butte, part of the Antelope Valley State Poppy Reserve. On the bush's right side, much further in the distance through a blue haze, are the higher San Gabriel Mountains.