Monday, March 31, 2008

A Bit of Sunshine

I love Mules Ears. These members of the sunflower family are just starting to bloom in the backcountry here in Northern California. So just being a little bit backward this morning, I'm posting this photo, the first photo I took yesterday. A little bookend for the other post, which was the last photo of the day.

The Road Home

I had an awesome weekend. I'm never happier than I am in the outdoors and I got out there both days this past weekend. On Saturday I lead an Artists' Paint Out into Coe Park and on Sunday we lead a very talent landscape photographer into the backcountry.

Tired but happy, this is my final shot of the weekend, taken on the Bear Mountain Road 20 minutes before sunset. More entries to come as I get thing processed. Great wildflower weekend. The great outdoors and good company. It doesn't get any better than this. I'm one happy gal.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Ah, a new personal project. I'm going to be photographing a garden through the next couple of weeks. A venue where I did a wedding last summer has turned out to be a wonderful location for children's portraiture. In exchange, I'll be photographing these beautiful gardens.

So, I'm off to a slow start because I hadn't been there at this time of year and didn't get the timing right for the golden hour light.

But I did photograph a few things in the garden, including these Camellias.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tree Identification

Every year in March we get taken completely by surprise by a strong, beautiful night fragrance. It comes from a shrub or tree in our yard. It was shrub-sized when we moved into our home 14 years ago, but now it's a tree.

I really love to know what I have growing around me but I still haven't identified this plant. Do you know it?

The tree and branches are woody, brittle and thin. The flower is black with a pink throat. A million blossoms blooming right now scents the whole neighborhod at night.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Coe Wildflowers

Henry W. Coe State Park's annual wildflower display is a thing to behold. I got out into the park this past weekend and photographed the early wildflowers. Shooting Stars and Hounds Tongue in the park backcountry. It was a reconnoiter for an Artists' Paint Out I'll be leading this weekend.

Here's are a couple of beautiful scenes on the way out of the park during the beautiful golden hour.

Little Cowgirl

Well this weekend I discovered that shooting horses is hard. Little cowgirls, not so hard. A client had me photograph her daughter and horse. I'll see if I get brave enough to show you my girl/horse portrait as soon as they have chosen some favorites. Meanwhile, here's a cute little collage I made at the very end of the shoot as our little cowgirl was packing up for home. I kept on shooting and am glad I did. I love this little sequence.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bridal Shoot - Capitola

I'm just working up the images from a bridal shoot I did on Saturday in Capitola. This was a model shoot for a vendor/wedding coordinator/planner, Kathy Ramirez (Kathy's Kreations) in Freedom, CA. The dresses were provided by a Touch of Elegance Bridal shop owned by Sonja Escalante in Watsonville.

I've worked briefly with all three of these models since the Hecker Pass Bridal Fair in the fall so we have loosened up with each other and can have a little fun.

Meet Kristin, Sasha and Michael. What a good sport Michael was for this shoot. We pretty much use him like a prop, but he takes it in stride.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Anza Borrego

I'm still enjoying my Anza Borrego photos. We had some wonderful days out there. I was delighted to find peace and quiet almost everywhere, despite the fact that the park is experiencing a surge of visitors for this wildflower bonanza.

Since returning I exchanged an e-mail with a State Park Ranger who used to work at Coe State Park where I volunteer. She's now working down in the mountains west of Anza Borrego at Cuyamaca State Park but for a while she was a ranger at Ocotillo Wells and actually lives in Borrego Springs. She said that she's never seen it more lovely and that the traffic in town is quite a novelty for their sleepy little town.

Anyway, far away from all of that madness here are two favorite "coffee" spots where we took our morning coffee to a delightfully quiet perch to enjoy these new mornings.

To view a small slideshow of photos from my trip go here.

Blair Valley morning light

Coyote Canyon overlooking the creek at the Lower Willows

Friday, March 14, 2008

Desert Lily (Hesperocallis undulata)

This lovely flower comes with a story. When I visited Anza Borrego in 2004 I spotted a single desert lily along the road but we were in a hurry to get somewhere else so we marked a waypoint on our GPS with the plan of finding it and stopping to photograph when the light was better. On the way back down canyon I could not find it again. It was as though it had vanished. I did not find another one during that entire visit.

This time we climbed the same wash on our first night in darkness and chose a campsite at random from one of the side washes in the Fish Creek and made camp for the night. In the morning, the first thing to greet my view upon opening the tail gate in the morning was this lovely little garden, feet away from the spot we'd chosen in the dark. And there was this beautiful desert lily, as though waiting for me.

Desert Abloom

We've just witnessed one of the most spectacular desert blooms on history. I couldn't wait to share it with you.

Once we're unpacked and settled, I'll get that gallery work done and share a few more.

This photo was taken at the foot of the Coyote Canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park just two mornings ago. While the bloom is at its peak in this spot, there are many many more flowers to come. Different species are getting ready to bloom and the tide is climbing the park's multiple elevations. Just a wee bit higher in this canyon we found the first of the beaver tail cactus blooming with many more cacti in bud.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Miller Ruins Family Session

I have some of the coolest clients.

I got a call last fall from a new client asking if I'd photograph her family in the ruins of the Henry Miller Cattle Barron's turn-of-the-century home in Mt. Madonna County Park. After securing a photography license to shoot in County Parks, I said "Heck, yes, that sounds like fun."

The young girls dressed in romantic lace dresses and I proceeded to send them cavorting not only in the ruins but in the fall grasses. Oh, my, did we ever have to work at getting the grass seeds out of those dresses. No damage done, thankfully. I'm working on a reprint order from the family and am really enjoying looking at this session again.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Beauty in the Mustard

I love this little client. I've been working with her for about a year. She models Strasburg Childrens' clothing for me from time to time. We have a lovely bumper crop of mustard just west of town which I wanted to capture before it fades and disappears.

Miss Alexia joined me for a little session there today. I had envisioned photographing her in the mustard but it was so high that she kept getting lost in it, so we retreated to the charming lane.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Spring Harbinger

Another harbinger of spring. The pretty trillium, a diminutive species, which grows in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park coastside. It's quite different from the larger species which grows at Coe State Park.

Ah, these belly flowers have me laying in the dirt this week.

There is something thrilling about finding this and a few other favorite spring flowers. I think it's because they recall the thrill of hunting for and finding them in my childhood. Trillium grow in Nova Scotia as well as California so this is a spring treasure from long ago.

Maurice Sighting

Maurice is having a grand tour. Not only is he meeting some great people and partying, he's been doing a bit of the tourist thing. Here he is in Providence, Rhode Island visiting the State House.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spring's Early Pageant

Bruce and I spent quite a bit of time out-of-doors this weekend. We are working on a plant regeneration study as volunteers in Henry W. Coe Park and got up to the Blue Ridge yesterday to visit our study plot. This is just one section of Coe Park which burned in the Lick Fire this past September. In all, the fire affected about 47,000 acres. Notwithstanding, things are coming along. Mother Nature does know what she is doing and the plants are returning.

We have two plots we are watching, both with different plant habitat. One is open mixed woodland and the other is chaparral and manzanita. Of the two, the open woodland has fared best. The fire rushed through there and scorched some trees around their base and others through the crown of the trees. Our mandate is to record the recovery of plants in the vicinity of our plots, being curious as to both what is growing in our plots but also the fate of trees which are still standing after the fire.

We're looking down more than up right now. It's still a few weeks before new growth beings in earnest up there in the trees. Meanwhile, we're studying the plants on the ground.

The earliest spring flowers are beginning to be found both in the fire sites and elsewhere throughout the park. Hounds tongue seems to be doing particularly well in the fire-affected areas.

Anyway, happy early Spring. Here are some wildflower photos from our day out there.

Here are the Hounds Tongue leaves springing up in a burned mixed woodland site. The trees in the background were all damaged to a varying extent during the fire, but here on the ground, grasses and flowering plants are returning.

I couldn't resist photographing these Shooting Stars. They were actually in an area which had not burned.

These Indian Warriors were found along the Hobbs Road, in great numbers. A harbinger of Spring, these plants are found in a community of manzanita, growing happily at their feet. This area was not affected by the fires.

And finally, on our way out of the park, fording the middle fork of the Coyote Creek at Poverty Flat and driving out on the flat beneath this spreading oak, I couldn't resist stopping to photograph the lovely light and scene. The fire was arrested just short of this flat at the toe of the Middle Ridge.