I don’t know how many times I’ve hiked in San Diego’s Laguna Mountains now – and yet I never noticed the unbelievably pretty Parish’s or Mountain Bluecurls (Trichostema parishii). What’s more, calflora.org lists observations of this plant throughout San Diego County, except for the desert. Some of these observations are historic, from the late 19th and early 20th century, and the flowers have probably long been lost to development – so we must cherish those that we can still find all the more.
These complex plants are difficult to photograph with my “single-photo handheld macro” approach (otherwise I’m quite fond of the technique that I’ve developed over time – I’m going to do a mini-presentation about it at our next photo club meeting). One would really have to carefully focus stack quite a number of exposures to depict them properly and maintain a nice background blur at the same time. And in a natural environment, that’s next to impossible – it’s always windy at Laguna Mountains, and I don’t really see myself carrying around contraptions of multiple diffusers to block the wind, on a hiking trail. I don’t think nature photography should be that intrusive, and a potential obstacle to other hikers.
I hope the photos still do the beauty of these flowers some justice. :-) (updated in May 2018 and July 2019, respectively, to add two more photos – I think in the photo from July 2019 I finally managed to capture the anthers appropriately.)
UPDATE: in the first version of this post I identified the flowers as Woolly Bluecurls, Trichostema lanatum. After looking into the distribution within San Diego County, the flowers that I photographed at this location are actually Parish’s Bluecurls, Trichostema parishii. It appears that Woolly Bluecurls are bigger than Parish’s Bluecurls.