Antelope Valley Wildflowers - April 6, 11, 2003

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Sunday, April 6

I had a very nice drive through the wildflowers in the Antelope Valley on Sunday, April 6. 

It was windy and cold when I drove down onto the valley floor from Quartz Hill on 110th Street West at about noon.  Flags were flapping snappily, treelimbs were whipping, and windmills were spinning madly.  I turned onto a dirt road running under the high tension powerline that runs diagonally across the poppy reserve.  When I got out of the 4Runner, the wind whistling through the powerlines sounded like an alien spaceship on the old Outer Limits TV show.

There was a hazy overcast, so the poppies were closed.  I traversed the reserve on dirt roads, choosing my course at each intersection nearly randomly.

I worked my way across the network of dirt roads to the north side of the Antelope Valley.  The road ran through undeveloped land covered by a dense Joshua Tree forest. The ground was carpeted with yellow composites, Goldfields, and tall purple flowers.

I drove along Patterson Road near 200th Street West until I was surrounded by fields of poppies.  The intensity of the color was intoxicating.  The overcast had evaporated and the full sun had convinced the poppies to open up.  It had warmed up considerably, and the wind was reduced to light gusts.  There were no crowds of people like those I had seen back at the reserve.

The orange and yellow flowers looked so much like fire that I almost wanted to run from the flames.  We laid down among the flowers to get close up photos.  I composed each picture and then waited for the wind to die down.  Every so often, the poppies all stopped quivering for a brief moment, and I snapped a picture.

I assembled a composite panorama that spans over 360 degrees from digital camera files.

and Kodachrome:

California Poppy panorama

Some areas are covered in yellow Goldfields.

Once I had my fill of taking poppy pictures, I drove farther down Patterson Road.  The poppies became still more numerous and the color so vivid that I had to stop and take more pictures.

A very small fraction of the poppies are yellow instead of orange.

When my film and batteries started running out, I drove farther. 

Finally I exited the fields of poppies and entered another Joshua Tree forest.  Returning to a world composed almost entirely of muted shades of green instead of saturated primary colors was like shifting to a parallel universe.  Then I reached fields where carpets of purple flowers filled the spaces between the orange poppies and had to stop to take more pictures.

The colors were electric. 

The knees of my blue jeans are covered in orange, purple, and green stains.

I stopped for a late lunch at Frazier Park and drove home over Highway 33.  I was home by sunset.

Friday, April 11

I made another visit to the Antelope Valley on Friday April 11. I got a very early start. It was just 8:00 A.M. as I drove down onto the valley floor. I stopped first at a Joshua Tree grove with a carpet of Goldfields to shoot stereo pairs in the early morning sunlight.


These stereo pairs are designed to be viewed by crossing your eyes until the images line up.

Joshua Trees and Goldfields

Joshua Trees and Goldfields

Joshua Trees and Goldfields

Joshua Trees and Goldfields

I parked in a sandy wash near the Poppy fields that I had vsited earlier.

Composites, Sage, and Creosote

Composites, Sage, and Creosote

I drove to the field of poppies that I had visited five days earlier to shoot stereo pairs and panoramas. I set up the tripod with the legs at the minimum height to get the camera close to the ground.

California Poppies

California Poppies

California Poppies

California Poppies

California Poppies, Antelope Valley, April 11, 2003

California Poppies, Antelope Valley, April 11, 2003 Little planet view of California Poppies in the Antelope Valley.

I headed back past the Poppy Preserve. The wind was howling. The poppies were whipping their little orange heads about madly.

Cars were parked on both sides of the road. Photographers were wandering along the edge of the road, bending over to shoot close-up pictures. Negotiating a path through the haphazardly parked cars and oblivious photographers was like a session in a driver education simulator.

I wanted to return to a field of purple star shaped flowers that I had photographed five days earlier. I followed the GPS back to the waypoint. As I stopped at the intersection at Patterson Road, another 4Runner crossed ahead of me, heading the direction I wanted to go. I followed it for a while until it stopped nearly exactly where I had stopped on Sunday. I turned the next corner and found another part of the field to photograph, while the driver of the other 4Runner got out to shoot pictures where I had planned to stop. There was just a gentle breeze blowing.

California Poppies and Baby Blue Eyes

California Poppies and Baby Blue Eyes

California Poppies and Baby Blue Eyes

I bent over these poppies for a long time waiting for the wind to let up for a moment. It was getting overcast, so I called it a day in the mid-afternoon. I was home before sunset.

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