Picture of the week

April 9, 2017

Carrizo Plains wildflowers

Carrizo Paradise

After years of waiting, the super bloom has finally happened at the Carrizo Plain.  Never have I seen such a concentration of wildflowers in one place with such density and vibrancy of color.  You can find a pdf map compliments of the BLM here.

Randy and Tucker at the Carrizo PlainI was here with two friends (Randy and Tucker) this last week during what appears to be the peak of the bloom.  To get around the various tributary roads, with some in rough conditions, we trailered the dual sport motorcycles here, using the Selby Campground as our base.  Use of the motorcycles turned out to be an excellent method for getting around, allowing us to reach places that would normally be quite difficult for even a lifted 4wd, and much faster across the dirt roads.  The presence of our motorcycles seem to surprise and get a look of contempt by some, including a friendly check by a BLM employee, but given the street legal credentials, we were in the clear.

Down on the main plain, the best colors could be found on Simmler Road closer to Soda Lake.  Toward the southern end of the valley a few miles southeast of the KCL campground off Soda Lake Road, there was such a vast plain of purple wildflowers that at first all of us mistoke for a lake.  With the motorcycles on the second day, we explored the perimeter of the entire valley, taking Elkhorn Road and some of its tributaries up to the ridgeline of the Tembler Range.  We ultimately reached Highway 166 to the south, stopping at a gas station in Maricopa to refuel and lunch, before returning back to via Soda Lake Road to Selby Campground.  With more time we could have also dropped in to Taft off the Hurricane Ridge Road via some of the oil fields to the east.

Steve and his DRZ400S dual sportSome of the most epic wildflowers were found on some other off-the-beaten path roads of the Caliente Mountains to the west, requiring a second visit for the best lighting conditions.  For my more serious photography I used my Canon EOS 5D mk3 with a 24-105L f/4 and 17-40L f/4 lens in a smallish camera backpack.  A polarizer was used most of the time to help accentuate the colors of the wildflowers.  I skipped the tripod due to space considerations with the dual sport DRZ400S motorcycle, relying instead on careful handholding and the higher ISO performance of the 5Dmk3.  For some of the quicker more opportunistic shooting, I utilized a Canon G7X higher end point-and-shoot in my tank bag.  The use of the back LCD in this case was an advantage for shooting while not having to remove my helmet, goggles, and gloves.  For both cameras I was careful to make sure there were sufficiently protected from dust and jarring by keeping them in their protective and padded cases while riding.

Travel guide to California Photography
If you want to know more on photographing Carrizo Plain or many other locations in California, be sure to check out my book now available on Amazon here.  I also discuss other prime wildflower locations in California with specifics on where and when to find them.