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Old May 3, 2010, 12:08 AM   #1
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Default Poppy Preserve

We stopped by the California Poppy Preserve today on our way home. It was less crowded than it had been 2 weeks ago, so this time we actually paid and parked, then I walked the trails while my other half listened to the Penguins game (photography is higher on my list of priorities than hockey is).

There's still some snow at the higher elevations, visible in the distance:

As you can see, there's lots and lots of poppies still blooming.

There's also lots and lots of people visiting:

Families were out in force and some parents with small children found imaginative ways of transporting them.

They ask everyone to stay on the paths and not touch the flowers. Poppies are somewhat delicate and they are wildflowers, not cultivated. People going off the trail trample the plants, killing them. Some people just don't listen:

I know that this person was trying to get a macro shot, but they could have done the same thing while staying on the trail. I know I managed it very easily.

There's more to look at than just poppies, though they are what most people come out for. Can you spot another good subject beside the flower in this shot? This fellow has good camouflage.

He let me get relatively close before scurrying a short distance away, where he wasn't in quite so much shadow. He never stopped in the open though, and this was the best shot I managed. His coloring is different from what I'm used to - the ones around here are just shades of brown, no color at all.

I became acquainted with a bird I wasn't familiar with, the Horned Lark.

They may be common, but not in conifer forests. They were fairly tame, crossing the paths and picking off caterpillars and worms.

I took a lot of pictures, it's hard not to when the flowers are so spectacular. The trip out there was definitely worth it this year, and there's poppies in places along Hwy 138 that don't usually have them. I'm hoping that they will still be around next weekend, I'd like to re-visit Lieber Mountain and see if the flowers have bloomed higher up on it.

It's been a very nice spring this year.
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Old May 3, 2010, 12:37 AM   #2
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Love the shots of the Horned Lark - how did you get that spectacular background ? The boy in the trolley is nice too.

Also the poppies look more orange than red n my wife's Samsung SyncMaster. Is that their normal colouration there ? They are a deeper red in the UK.
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Old May 3, 2010, 1:30 AM   #3
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Magnificent sights Harriet,
don't even dare to pick a favorite.

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Old May 3, 2010, 8:04 AM   #4
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Agreed with Frogfish, incredible shot of that lark with all the colour out of focus in the background! The first shot is breathtaking as well, wouldn't mind putting that photo up on my wall.
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Old May 3, 2010, 9:07 AM   #5
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The California poppy is a wildflower and is bright orange, some possibibly having yellow at the edges. It's smaller than the big red ones that everyone thinks of when someone says "poppy" (unless you are from California).

The background on the horned lark is more poppies. While the bush the bird was on was not close to the trail (the shot is cropped), it wasn't beyond the point where the DA*300 goes to infinity, so you are seeing the small DOF of a 300 mm lens at f5.6. It helps that the ground slopes down quite a bit so the background is further away than it might normally be and since it's at an angle, it shows more bunched flowers OOF than if it were a flat field. I was really happy with that shot.
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Old May 3, 2010, 6:58 PM   #6
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Wow! I've grown to look forward to seeing your annual spring photos of California in bloom.

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Old May 3, 2010, 7:19 PM   #7
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very nice. love #1 and #4 and the horned lark with the orange backdrop.
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Old May 3, 2010, 9:42 PM   #8
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great series as always, mtngal!
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Old May 3, 2010, 11:02 PM   #9
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Thanks for the compliments!

I had to work a bit on the first one, Dustin. It was a bit hazy out (not uncommon for the Antelope Valley) so I adjusted the contrast on the upper part, to bring out the white snow more than it appeared out of the camera, while leaving the poppies alone. Those mountains are a long way away, across both Lancaster and Palmdale, from the preserve. One previous year there was still snow on the Tehachapi Mountains, which are in the opposite direction and much closer. That one I didn't need to adjust at all.

The horned lark with the orange background had very little post processing - mostly a matter of cropping it some.
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Old May 4, 2010, 7:55 AM   #10
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Great series - love the color and depth and variety. Wonderful lark habitat photo, even better with the mouthful, (and great documentation of people who can't follow rules).
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