California Wildflower Explosion!

It’s Wildflower Season In California! Here’s some tips to help you get the images you want:

1. Do a little research: check in with other photographers, wildflower web sites, weather reports, and the like.

Owl's Clover and Lupine

2. Weather reports can be helpful, but… real-time field reports are even better. Yesterday several of my friends were out shooting, and from time to time one of us would text the others, “this spot is too windy”, “this place is good today, and tomorrow will be even better”.

3. Online sources can be very helpful. Carol Leigh’s California wildflower site is a real winner.  The California State Parks sites, such as the Antelope Valley Poppy reserve, are also very good.

4. Take along a tripod – you’ll need it in many cases for your wide shots, and macro.

5. Take along a small light diffuser, like one of those round, translucent nylon gadgets that fold up.

6. Shoot in Aperture priority for depth of focus/depth of field, or Shutter priority if it is windy – moving flowers can make for blurry images. If the flowers are moving even a little, you’ll want to use shutter speeds of 1/100 and up.

7. Think about the direction of the light. Try to shoot into the shadows, when your subject is side-lit, or even back-lit. Front lighting (with the sun behind you) usually looks flat and uninspiring.

8. Use a lens shade, particularly if you are shooting toward the sun. Light coming into the lens will kill the contrast of your image.

9. If you are shooting multi-frame panoramas of wildflower-covered scenes, consider leaveing your polarizing filter in your camera bag. Those filters make merging blue skies difficult.

10. Consider using a photo tour company. Your Photo Travel Guide is running tours for the next few weekends, through May 1.

Places to consider include the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, Carizzo Plain, Death Valley, Wind Wolves Reserve, Sacramento River Bend area, Little Panoche Valley. Remember to check things out ahead of time – things change day by day, sometimes hour by hour!

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