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Poppy Hillside, Highway 49 near Jackson

Posted by
Gary Hart (California, United States) on 13 March 2009 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

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.

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Thanks for visiting. Even if I don't respond, your comments are always read and appreciated.

Didier DE ZAN from somewhere, France

Wonderful landscape - I Like the composition , the sky and the colours

13 Mar 2009 5:42am

Ralf Kesper from Attendorn, Germany

This is a very nice landscape. I like this picture.

13 Mar 2009 10:53am

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

This one is one of my favorites Gary. To me the fence brings back childhood memories of climbing through the barbed wire, trying not to snag myself, so that I could go climb those oak trees! ( I do have a few scars from fences like those, but now they are a link to childhood fun with my sister...)
So, Thanks for the link! :)

13 Mar 2009 1:20pm

alex centrella from California, United States

perfection !

13 Mar 2009 4:41pm

Marie LC from Voiron, France

Wonderful !!!

13 Mar 2009 6:00pm

Raye Michele from Halifax, Canada

lovely. Nice full colours.

14 Mar 2009 2:10pm

Don Smith from California, United States

I've always loved this image Gary. Never really knew the story behind it. See you Monday!

14 Mar 2009 3:47pm

jordi from Barcelona / Tremp, Spain


15 Mar 2009 2:55pm

Bill Roeser from Fresno, CA, United States

I"ve always been drawn to this picture of yours Gary - maybe my favorite. The highlights and contrasting colors, the balance, the clouds, the falling fence post bring a pleasing balance.

Nice to be able to take a break from "office realities" and look at your pictures. Thanks!

24 Mar 2009 11:46pm

Magda from Vancouver, Canada

The composition and colours are fantastic! The lighting is spectacular! Very impressive portfolio you have!

6 May 2009 7:39pm

Daniel from Kenmare, United States

very nice image.

6 Apr 2010 12:41pm

Jerry York from Aberdeen, United States

I'd love this photo even if the one fence post wasn't laying down on the job. Enjoyed your narrative as well.

4 Dec 2012 3:58am

This image has been featured in 2 Remix collections.

My favorites on AM3 - SCENERY by Maria

Paysage by Patrick M.