In keeping with my plan to mix in occasional older images, here's the picture that's on my business card (not to mention the wall above my fireplace). People tell me they love this scene because it simply says "California!". This location happens to be along Highway 49 near Jackson in the rolling hills of our "Gold Country," but in spring it's not hard to find scenes like this on any back-road in California's foothills. For most of us natives, scenes like this revive happy memories of weekend drives with the windows down, sharing a ballgame or our favorite music with the cows.
The intensity and peak of the poppy bloom is difficult to predict each year. In a good year entire hillsides are blanketed in gold. Ample winter rain made 2005 a particularly good year for poppies and I spent many days roaming the foothills looking for scenes like this. (Drive by this spot in August and it’s just a field of crispy brown weeds.)
The steepness of this hill isn't conveyed well in two dimensions. While I could see this scene from the highway, to get the perspective I wanted I had to scale a 20 foot precipice (well, at least it seemed like 20 feet), then scramble, sometimes with my hands, up the steep hillside--perhaps not death-defying but certainly unnerving. In my enthusiasm I had miscalculated the incline and was forced to jettison gear along the way, finally arriving with just my camera, one lens, and my tripod.
I'm not sure what compelled me to include the fence (it seems so obvious now) because I consciously avoid anything manmade in my images. But as pretty as the scene's natural beauty is, I don't think this shot would have worked without the fence. In fact, I think it’s the single skewed fencepost that makes the difference. Forgive a little armchair psychology, but I finally decided that people unconsciously identify with the maverick post. All the other posts are idly going about their business while this one “outcast” is drawn to grander things.
* Website: Eloquent Images
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