Larkspurs in the Landscape

Yet more photos of Scarlet Larkspur you say? (one, two) Why, yes – with a more inclusive look at the surrounding landscape now. :-)

The local wildflowers that I’ve photographed closer to our home in the last couple of months did not come in dazzling displays (like the carpets and fields of flowers that briefly appear and quickly disappear again, in Anza Borrego, at Lake Elsinore, or Carrizo Plain this year). Most of my photos are macros and close-ups because these flowers appear more isolated and/or on a much smaller scale. One surely has to look harder to see them (like the little Coulter’s Snapdragon that I discovered along a trail that I had walked so very often already, or the tiny Osmadenia tenella that is so strikingly complex and beautiful up close).

I think that’s very rewarding actually, because it feels like a treasure hunt, and very worthy, because it makes you realize just how many of these little treasures are out there, just waiting to be found. You don’t need a camera and a macro lens. Just look. :-)

One exception though was the impressive bloom of the Scarlet Larkspur (Delphinium cardinale) at Torrey Pines Extension. It’s not “a sea” of red flowers – they grow quite tall but also dispersed amidst sagebrush. Their color naturally draws a lot of attention of course (general rule in photography – the color red is powerful). This,  and the way they gently sway in the coastal breeze, as if to wave at visitors, made it worth a try to show them at a larger scale – embedded in coastal sagebrush and amidst the Torrey Pines.

A very shallow and low layer of coastal fog lingered at the immediate shore that afternoon and pushed a little inland around sunset, when Shuwen and I went there. It would have been awesome if this fog had made it past the Torrey Pine-lined ridge that separates the ocean from the trough where most of the larkspurs grow of course… ;-)

But even without that, the conditions were quite favorable, in particular in those spots where the flowers were backlit by the last light of day, and stood out nicely from the visual clutter that coastal sagebrush naturally is (this isn’t a complaint – I love this vegetation and the aromatic plants that grow in it just like I love chaparral – it’s just not that easily accessible with a camera).

Here are six photos.

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4 Responses

  1. As much as I love the chaparral / coastal sagebrush in Southern California,I find it incredibly hard to photograph – especially in late summer. These are wonderful photographs – the light is beautiful and the sense of ‘place’ is very strong.

  2. Since I cannot say it better, I will just agree with Chloe on light and sense of place. Though your flower close-ups are beautiful, I especially enjoy your unique ability to capture a subject in the context of its surroundings.

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