San Mateo Shore Dune Wildflowers
full print size of 23.6x30.6 inches @304.8ppi, above displayed at 1/178
Copyright © David Senesac 2006 view detailed crop
San Mateo County
mid morning Thursday June 2, 2006, slide 06-V-3
Wisner 4x5 Expedition, 150mm Nikkor, Gitzo G1325 Mk2
Tango Drum scanned Fuji Provia 100F 4x5 film to 200mb RGB file
Adobe Photoshop 6.0 processed for accurate image fidelity
Lightjet5000 printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
signature top left
Years before, I had identified this area of dunes as the best location for groups of multicolored wildflowers I might find along my local Central California Pacific coastline. And over the years I returned at times during May in order to attempt capturing its spring wildflowers when the bloom peaked while weather cooperated. When a photographer has local access to a fine landscape they wish to capture, persistence of returning several times during favorable conditions is likely to pay off with an image that elicit envy in those that live too distant to conviently enjoy such an advantage. However in the case of this landscape, I was so repeatedly frustrated that I had serious doubts of any success.
Generally the immediate coastlines of our most fog shrouded areas are the last areas of peaking low elevation spring wildflowers one will witness in California. That is because wildflowers growing in that environment with frequent low coastal cloud overcast, fog, and cool seawater moderating temperatures, are slow to warm versus other further inland areas. Thus up and down the coast, May tends to be the month to view wildflowers on coastal bluffs and dunes instead of March and April of inland coastal wildflowers. That cool moist climate also tends to preserve flowers longer once they bloom, a fact not lost on several commercial flower growing companies with operations along this same San Mateo County coast. Generally for years with higher rainful during an optimal period in late winter and early spring, flowers are noticeably more prominent than in average or sub-average years. Although in 2006, Central California had just moderately above average precipitation, much of it fell during the optimal period and notably the early spring was wet and cool. When I first visited this location in early May, I was disappointed to find what appeared to be a sub-par year's bloom. However upon returning later in the month that all changed.
So during a few week's period, I stubbornly gambled with a few more attempts at capturing the prize.
Unfortunately capturing wildflower landscapes with near foregrounds along our coast can be quite frustrating due to frequent northwesterly winds that keep plants in constant motion. The photographer of course wants to stop down to a small aperture with high resolution low ASA film requiring a slow shutter speed, thus subjects without movement. So many times I wasted gas drivingback and forth only to be disappointed by the wind or its friend, the frequent too dense fog. Well finally on June 2 after checking various internet weather data and deciding conditions appeared favorable for sunshine and light breezes, I made yet another drive to the coast. Upon hiking to the dunes, I happily noted just a light variably breeze. After exposing a couple sheets of film near this frame that included less of the ocean, I moved a little closer to the nice yellow bush lupine frame right where I might include more of the background ocean in the frame. Then after a some minutes patiently waiting, a few moments of... dead calm.
Among the wildflowers in this scene are yellow bush lupine, lupinus arboreus, red hued seaside paintbrush, castilleja latifolia, yellow hued lizard tail, eriophyllum staechadifolium, orange hued California poppies, eschscholzia californica, red stemmed yellow hued flowers of sea lettuce, dudleya farinosa, and magenta hued iceplant. Barely poking above tall grasses atop one dune right of center, is white foam of a crashing wave. At the horizon, one will note a usual heavy dimmer layer of cool marine air above the Pacific Ocean with clearer dryer air above.