Every photographer loves spring. Along with the green foliage and newly blooming plants, the changing spring weather also produces some wonderful stormy skies that we just can't pass up. I am constantly watching the skies for interesting cloud formations. I also check weather sites such as NOAA and AccuWeather for locations where interesting weather patterns may exist.
I shot this scene not too far from home in Southern California. These hills are located in the Moreno Valley, CA badlands (which might be considered Beaumont, CA). I saw its potential on a drive up Jack Rabbit Trail Road a few days earlier. This is one of the greenest rural landscapes in the area. The green lasts from late February to mid April but quickly turns brown for the rest of the year.
While the skies were stormy the rain was light so I was able to venture out and explore the area. I wanted to find a good foreground and ran across this colorful yucca plant growing on the side of the hill. When I first got here the plant was covered with dead tumbleweed so I had to do a little gardening to clean up my subject. The trail provided a nice subtle S-curve lead-in to the distant hills and storm clouds in the background.
Since I was less than two feet away I had to use a small aperture (f20) to get the depth of field required. The overall scene was middle toned diffused light so I let the meter choose the shutter speed (1/4 sec). I also used two ND Graduated filters - a 2-stop hard and a 3-stop soft to add even more drama to the sky.
I got a lot of mileage out of these hills on this outing and will surely be back year after year.
Read this article, and many more, in High Definition, inside Issue 7 of Landscape Photography Magazine.