Western Azalea

I hiked a portion of Palomar Mountain again yesterday. In a shady ravine connecting the meadows of Upper Doane Valley with Chimney Flats, Joseph Smith and I found some Western Azalea (Rhododendron occidentale) that were still in bloom.

According to Wikipedia, this is one of the southernmost appearances of the plant (this article mentions that they are also to be found at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park), which is probably notable for it’s unexpected resistance to higher temperatures.

Western Azalea and Poison-oak in a ravine at Palomar Mountain State Park, San Diego County, CA.
Rhododendron occidentale and Poison-oak in a ravine at Palomar Mountain State Park, San Diego County, CA. June 2013. Print available in my shop (click image to open).

Tech: this is a focus-stacked image composed of 2 exposures, one focused on the flowers, the other on the tree in the background. At a focal length of 230mm, both exposures where made at f/22, which is not enough to render both the flowers and the tree with sufficient depth of field in a single exposure. The aperture f/22 is a compromise because it means acuity will take a hit because of diffraction.

The image is also a blooper: while adjusting the ISO setting of the camera (I wanted to get a shorter exposure time since the plants were swaying in the wind), I accidentally turned on it’s auto-ISO feature, which resulted in both exposures being at ISO 6400, which I didn’t notice until I came home and imported the files. The added noise from the high ISO setting is not visible in this web version of course, and I’m happy that I managed to capture the flowering plant in such a beautiful setting – except for the Poison-oak, it doesn’t look quite like San Diego County, does it? :-)

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