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Unless one is a local, photographing spring flowers and fall colors can be a risky business. So much depends on local climate and current weather conditions. I try to minimize disappointment by including some places in my trip where the bloom was not the prime attraction. I think I learned of Bartlett Lake from an online photography forum. The lake is managed by the US Forest Service so there is a an entrance fee. We made it one of our first stops on a loop through the desert Southwest, and we were not disappointed. There were displays of brittlebush, Mexican poppies and red chuparosa everywhere we stopped.
The wildflower blooms in this part of the southwest US typically appear from mid-March to early April. It’s also the time when rattlesnakes become active. If I did this annually, I’d probably invest in snake-proof boots and gaiters, but for this trip I stayed on open trails and avoided stepping into brush. I find shooting wildflowers a bit like composing an image in a forest. It’s a lot harder than first imagined. Trying to find coherence amongst the natural chaos takes a bit of patience and time.
For this image, I wanted a single focal point. While a pair, these saguaro cacti were close enough together to make it work. Additionally the flowers lead to them with a bit of railroad track perspective. Normally. I avoid shooting mid-day, but the complementary colors of the sky and flowers and the thin clouds overcame my ingrained reluctance. I used my favorite landscape lens, a 24mm tilt-shift, to frame the scene without any keystone effect while adjusting for the desired amount of foreground flowers.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor