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Antelope Valley Poppy Field  Chris Carvalho/Lensjoy.com

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Taken in 2001, this view of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster, California shows the spectacular display of flowers the area is famous for.  Each year there is an anxious wait to see if there will be a good bloom.  Favorable conditions require rains in October and November and a winter without extreme cold snaps.  2001 was considered to be an above average year, certainly good for photography.  On my visit to the area I spent two days roaming the trails and waiting for good weather.  It's often windy at the park, and this time was no exception.  My patience was tested while waiting for each opportunity to snap the shutter.  I don't believe there was ever a time with perfect stillness.  A very small amount of wind motion is visible in a few areas of this photograph, but it simply adds to the mood and gives the image a feeling of realness I like because it captures the experience of the wind.  

With California poppies photography becomes challenging because they open and close with changes in the weather.  They don't open completely until mid-morning and close in late afternoon or when clouds shade them.  So they unfortunately are closed when the air tends to be the calmest.  In very high winds they also close to protect the delicate flowers from shredding.  Even though the light is right, the flowers may choose not to cooperate.  

In the distance a number of other flowers are visible including lupines, goldfields (Lasthenia californica), filaree (Erodium cicutarium), and bluedicks (Dichelostemma pulchellum).  Sometimes these flowers dominate in years when the poppy bloom is subdued.  In recent years the conditions for poppies have not been good, mostly due to drought.  What I saw on my visit was breathtaking and I recommend that anyone with a dream to see fields of poppies check with the preserve each year and do everything possible to visit if the outlook is favorable.  It will be a memory that lasts a lifetime.  

The California poppy is a hardy and adaptable plant that has resisted shrinking habitat.  Fortunately it likes growing conditions along roadsides and is happy in the home garden.  But the best place to see it is on an expanse of rolling hills where its brilliant orange can stretch for as far as the eye can see.  There is no better tonic for the spirit.  

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Info:  Chromira digital print of Velvia 50 4x5 chrome, Fuji Crystal Archive CD paper
Note:  Any appearance of color bands or posterization in blue sky is a result of your computer's monitor, and will not show in a purchased print.  
 

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All images, text, and design copyright Chris Carvalho.  Reproduction restricted to terms of the Limited Use Agreement.

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