After one of the driest periods in California in recent memory, the rain has poured and paved the way for a beautiful spring. And you know what that means… SUPER BLOOM! A super bloom happens when there’s a particularly wet winter followed, generally, by warm weather resulting in a huge explosion of wildflowers that hibernated through winter. Super blooms are extra special because they happen in areas normally associated with dry, monochromatic vistas – like deserts.
Depending on you location, you can see flowers of just about every color painting the landscape for some of the most vivid shots you’ll get all year. Super blooms are rare finds and don’t happen every year, so grab your gear and head out to these top three destinations!
Joshua Tree (Mid-April)
A common adventure for anyone remotely near it, Joshua tree is often a stark, striking expanse devoid of much color besides the rock, dirt, and famous trees. However, go mid-April and it’s predicted that you’ll see one of the most impressive super blooms it’s had in the past decade.
To shoot here, we recommend bringing out that extra wide angle lens and upping the saturation in post. That classic Joshua Tree expanse could be easily livened up with some greenery. If you’re going to be after dusk, shooting a nightscape with flowers in your foreground would be a nice twist on a classic shot – just don’t forget a lightweight tripod such as the Davis and Sanford.
If you’re looking for a sea of orange, you won’t go wrong at Lake Elsinore located not too far from Joshua Tree. To see the flowers, hike up the hills surrounding the lake. You won’t be able to miss them and they’re in full bloom right now!
Given just how much surface area this bloom is taking up, you can shoot in one of two ways: landscape or macro, though you may get the most impressive photos shooting with a larger aperture. Using a macro lens like this one or this one will let the viewer focus on the subject with the (very orange) background out of focus. A floral background? We’ll take it.
Anza-Borrego National Park
Absolutely the star of the early super bloom, Anza-Borrego National Park is absolutely vibrant right now. Also located in southern California, Anza-Borrego is as covered in blooms as it ever has been. Distinguished by its large, flat plains and painted mountains, this bloom is one that benefits from seeing the whole picture.
And what’s the best way to get a bird’s eye view? Why, a drone of course. With few obstructions, this is the perfect time to try out a drone for the first time. The DJI Phantom 4 Pro or a the smaller, compact DJI Mavic Pro will do you well, are easy to control, and comes with its own camera. Get up high and take some sweeping shots.
Here is the 3rd in a mini series I will be posting on desert bloom wildflowers. In it we see a carpet of spring desert bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California. Desert Sand Varbena, (Abronia villosa), is the purple flower seen here with the San Ysidro Mountains behind and the Creosote bush in between. Image taken March 8th 1998, in 4×5 film format. _____________________________________________ 3A6903 – Desert sand verbena, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, CA PHOTO TIP: This colorful plant is one of the highlights of Anza Borrego Desert State Park. In a good year, such as the spring of 1998 or this year there will be large patches of it everywhere, making it difficult for the photographer to choose what and where to photograph. It is a pleasant problem to have. Mountains in the background complete the picture. _____________________________________________ Another classic ©Ed Cooper Photo 🌄. Specializing in nature images that are unedited. All rights reserved. Contact info and link for full sized, uncropped, hi res, economy priced prints, phone cases, and many other image mediums on bio. Add me on Facebook: Ed Cooper Photography Contact me for business inquiries. _____________________________________________ I have never felt closer to my creator than when I'm in the mountains. Ed _____________________________________________
A few more tips
No matter where you end up shooting, remember…
- While the flowers are gorgeous, don’t forget about portraits or other interesting subjects – like rock formations or lake reflections.
- If you’re going to shoot a super bloom, be ready to walk! Pack enough water and food for a short day trip.
- Look for interesting vantages. It’s possible that you may find that the flowers have bloomed on the bank of a river – but you wouldn’t have seen that if you didn’t go looking for a different perspective. All the more reason to try a drone!
- Talk to the rangers. These parks are very large. Call before you go to make sure that you drive to the right place. Flowers are fickle and don’t stay long.
- Post production is key! Don’t be afraid to bump up the saturation and contrast.