Purple Owls Clover & Tidy Tips

Purple Owls Clover & Tidy Tips

full print size of 29.6x37.6 inches @304.8ppi, above displayed at 1/178
Copyright © David Senesac 2006   view detailed crop

geranium California Valley in Carrizo Plain, San Luis Obispo County
noon Sunday April 30, 2006, slide 06-Q-19
Wisner 4x5 Expedition, 150mm Nikkor, 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 center

In March 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 on April 3 the largest storm of the series stayed further west over the Pacific and dropped good rains over the northern parts of Southern California including 2.6 inches of rain at Carrizo Plain. That big storm over the following few weeks provided a huge kick to plants that were already set to make an appearance. On a very successful photography road trip to Carrizo Plain April 18, 19 and 21, I had experienced a superb bloom down on the valley floor near Soda Lake and explored some areas up in the Temblor Range where quite a number of plants were still green with buds. Thus I decided to return later in order to catch the peak of the mountain wildflowers.

After arriving at the Carrizo Plain National Monument Friday April 28, a friend and I concentrated work the first couple days in the Temblor Range to the east. On our last day, Sunday, we visited the Simmler Road area early in the morning and took a few images though conditions were well past the peak conditions I'd found on the earlier trip. On leaving the valley driving north on Soda Lake Road, I wanted to stop at this area in the ranch home community of California Valley part of Carrizo Plain, as I'd been impressed while driving by on the earlier trip. Even though it was now noon with the light for landscapes too harsh, closeup work would still be fine. It looked pretty good so we got out and wandered around. Most of the area was rather flat. When composing down on wildflowers it is better to find dense flowers growing from a slope versus a flat area because one will be able to see the sides of the flowers instead of mainly just the tops.

I noticed this brief inclined slope in the distance and went to investigate.

Purple owls clover, orthocarpus purpurascens, and tidy tips, layia platyglossa, were absolutely dense for about 50 feet of distance along a slightly inclined slope. The flowers were climbing on top of each other without any thin areas. Thus I walked back and forth with a big grin sizing up which exact clump I'd expose my first sheet on. My friend was about 150 yards away and was at first slow to notice what I was now camped on. By time I was about ready for my first exposure he had come by and was now also beaming. A big patch of grasses was in front of these flowers and that quickly became a level green bombhole as I maneuvered low to the ground to compose an image. My first exposure was up and higher than this closer mug shot. For this image I keyed on the V pattern in the tidy tips. Because the plain of the little slope was nice and even, it was a perfect opportunity to use the view camera tilt movements in order to adjust for critical focus across the whole frame. Clouds and an increasing breeze had developed so I had to wait a bit before momentary calm allowed depressing the shutter. The magenta red color of this species of owls clover is so wonderful to look at. It is a short wildflower that likes to dominate small pure patches. The tidy tips are certainly one of the favorite wildflowers of Californian spring bloom seekers as they often bloom densely over wide areas. They are usually taller than the owls clover, but in this case I think both species burst out at the same time after the big storm at the beginning of the month so had remained about the same height.

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   David Senesac
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