Thoughts, adventures, projects, and photography by Shawn DeArmond

Wildflowers on the Grapevine

June 3, 2006 - 9:00pm -- Shawn

God makes the coolest flower gardens. He doesn't need pesticides, chemical fertilizers, irrigation, or neat evenly-spaced rows. All He had to do is create the system of evolution and then wait.

This particular garden is on the hillsides surrounding The Grapevine, a rare curvy section of Interstate-5 in California that links the Los Angeles Basin to the San Joaquin Valley. If you're ever driving through it in March or April, give your white knuckles a break and take a walk through the lupin, California poppy, rye, and other wildflower species blanketing the hillsides.

I wanted to accomplish two things with this photograph. First, I wanted to show the vast amount of wildflowers in the area. The hills were literally blue from top to bottom. Second, I wanted to show that the blue lupin wasn't the only plant on the hill. Okay, three, I wanted to avoid capturing the ugly electricity towers that were also all over the hillside.

This brings up a photography term that I've used before (and I'm sure to use again) called "depth of field." Basically, that means how much of the photograph will be in focus. When you focus on your subject, obviously your subject will be in focus, but often objects slightly in front of- or slightly behind your subject are also in focus. How slightly depends on a camera setting called "aperture" (aka f-stop). A high number f-stop like f-16 or f-32 means that the aperture is letting less light into the camera, but a lot of your photo will be in focus. A low f-stop like f-2.8 or f-3.5 means that the aperture is letting more light into the camera, but less stuff will be in focus. And, yes, there are situations where having less of your photo in focus is preferable.

I wanted to focus on the flowers close up, but I also needed the flowers in the distance to be in focus; at least enough to show that they are, in fact, more of the same flowers. For this photo, I used f-8; not a particularly high f-stop, but it's as high as my little Canon S40 would go.

Wildflowers on the Grapevine