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It's always a roll of the dice when I visit the Carrizo Plains in south central California in Spring. The area is very often windy, sometimes so windy that it is impossible to photograph and get anything sharp! Yet in Spring, it is a lovely place where you can be surrounded by vibrant colors of wild flowers, and I wouldn't miss it for the world when it's a good year. The area is considered a high desert plain, and it has mesquite, sage and other tough shrubs. It is sandwiched between two mountain ranges and in a good year of rainfall, becomes a 'catch basin'. When the amount of water and number of warm days is just right, it will explode into blooms of poppies, lupine, owl's clover, goldfields, tidytips, and more in late March and early April.
Photographing in the morning is typically the best option for little or no wind, but the California poppies don't open until they are warm enough, so I often look for landscapes with other flowers that are open for the best color display. Even though it is still early, you have to wait for the sun to crest the first mountain range to the east, and by then the breezes can begin to affect your landscapes. You just have to be patient and time it between the 'gusts'! Some days are calmer than others, so I always plan several days there to increase my chances. For this image, taken in late afternoon, I was lucky that the breeze was light that day. Still, I had to bump my ISO a tad higher to freeze the flowers in the foreground to make this photograph work.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor