Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spring in the Desert

In late winter/early spring, the normally hot and dry desert of east San Diego county, Anza-Borrego, comes to life with wildflowers and cactus blooms. We were a little late in getting out there this year and most of the vast fields of flowers were gone by, but it seemed still a little early for most of the cactus flowers. I prefer the cactus anyway... they are more unique and somehow more interesting to photograph than simple flowers because they come in such wild shapes & textures and each has it's own special bloom, most of them really beautiful. The ocotillos are tall and wispy, with small red flowers on the ends (the one seen here didn't have many yet) but have brutally sharp barbs hidden by the small green leaves. The other cactus below is a beaver tail (I think you can see where that name comes from) and they have these really bright pink flowers each spring.
There are some challenges to working in this environment; I have been stabbed several times by cactus for not paying attention while maneuvering to set up a shot and the light is usually extremely harsh during the day due to the dry climate and clear blue sky. Better to forget the big scenics during the mid day and concentrate on detail subjects. Even for that I try to bring along my trusty fold out reflector/shade to knock down the bright sun - I was able to use it to good advantage on this one. The colored lichens on the rock were kind of a color bonus. My main reason for being in this particular spot was to find a rock with some ancient native-american pictographs that I had read about.. I'll cover those separately in the near future.

16 comments:

Meghann said...

I love the contrast between the cacti, the delicate flowers and the rocks. So stunning, as always :)

Patrick said...

Nice work Mark, the first one as a very graphic aspect and the second features perfectly the beauty of these pink and wild flowers.

earthtoholly.com said...

Wow, both are very beautiful, Mark. Is that the moon in your first pic?

I love how the flowering cactus is bordered by what looks like two different kinds of rock...maybe it's just the angle. So nice!

Mark Alan Meader said...

Thank you, Meghann. I see you do photography also.. I will be sure to check out your work.

Yes Holly, that's the moon in the sky, looks really small because of the wide angle lens. It's tempting to PS a big one in there and make it look really cool or at least closer to what it looked like with the naked eye.

Thanks a lot, Patrick...

storybeader said...

I love the look of the sky, in the top photo. What a gradation! I'm familiar with the cactus on the bottom - we have them all over the Wichita Mts., just to the north of us. Though they are "common," the flowers are so unusual, sitting up on the top of the tail there!

J said...

What a beautiful post and photos!!! Love the contrast the desert offers with its flowers. Breathtaking.

Great blog!!!

Cheers! JJ

Mook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mook said...

Exquisite colours Mark!

I'm red-faced with that deleted comment :(

Mark Alan Meader said...

Hi Deb: Could be wrong, but I don't think you have these tall ocotillos out where you are. Some cacti are all over the place and others are very limited by region it seems.

Thanks JJ... I just found your blog and need to check it out some more.

Mook: gotta watch it with those fancy words!:) All I can say is thank God for spellcheckers almost everywhere these days.

donnie said...

love the ocotillos - not many around here

Andy Richards said...

Ahh Spring! We haven't seen it here in Michigan yet (although there is hope -- there is some green matter poking through the ground in some places).

Nice capture, Mark

Mook said...

lol Mark :) spellchecker tell me about it:)

My problem is dependant on where I'm writing. I use a lot of Scots words for example if I say "fit's that all bout" that means "what's that all about" not to mention spellcheckers use of the American spelling i.e color which should be colour.

Plus I'm an eejit(stupid)and at weekends to much wine and my languorous nature just throws it all up in the air ;) and I forget where I'm writing. That however does not stop my red face! cheers :)

Lynda Lehmann said...

Mark, have you seen this article? I thought you would like it.

http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/travel/12outback.html?8td&emc=tda1

Lynda Lehmann said...

Gorgeous clarity, color and detail in the bottom photo especially, Mark. The lichen's color really pops the fuschia and red hues. I agree that for the most part, cacti are more interesting than "regular" flowers because of the "connective tissues" of their varied and odd-shaped cactus leaves.

I know what you mean about harsh lighting in the midday desert. We have that here too, on the beaches, during peak daylight hours.

Mark Alan Meader said...

Lynda: Thanks.. great article. Maybe especially for me, having been to most of those places, some of them several times.
I don't know if you follow the blog of my fellow San Diegan and outdoor enthusiast, Betchai.. her blog is called "At The Backroads" and she just got back from a one week whirlwind road trip to that whole area. She already wrote a pretty extensive article about it and will be doing more, I'm sure. You will love it.

http://sandiegobackroads.today.com/

I really hope you get to visit the area someday.. even the best photographs don't do it justice, but it's sure fun to try!

betchai said...

I too find the cacti, yuccas, and ocotillos fascinating. Both pictures are stunning, and I love the contrast of the pink blooms of the beaver tail cactus, the lichens, and that tiny blue wildflower.

Thanks so much for referring my blogsite Mark.