Foothills Regional Park, Windsor

IMG_6106adjSpring is the perfect time to visit regional parks wherever you live. Here in Sonoma County wine country, Foothills Regional Park in Windsor is full of wildflowers just waiting to be enjoyed!

You can take a guided walk during March and April so you’ll leave actually knowing the names of the lovely flowers you see.  This weekend we walked with Phil Dean, from the Master Gardener program, who introduced us to some beautiful plants and identified each for us:IMG_6070adj

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The walk is casual with only one hill, the top of which sports a beautiful field of Lupine! I hung out there photographing so long I’m sure we missed many more flowers but since I’m in love with Lupine it was worth it.

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Mid day on a sunny day is not the best time to photograph flowers but there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of a good shot:

1.Use a shade for those blossoms in glaring bright sun.  It might be as simple as standing in such a way as to block the sun. You can  carry a small white poster board (which can also be used to bounce light into shadows) or you can purchase a translucent fold up disk which is what I carry.

2. Use a lense shade to cut glare on the lense used in bright sun.

3. Focus on the brightest part of the flower so you don’t blow the highlights. Focusing on the darkest part of the flower makes the camera want to lighten it up and makes the entire image too bright.

4. Try to photograph the same flower in shade and sun to see the difference.

5. Get low and try different angles instead of just shooting down from the top.

6. Try to get a log, rock or some other item in the photo to add interest in some shots.

7. You may need to bump up your ISO to make sure the speed is at least 125 or higher to stop a flower blowing in the breeze, while closing down the f stop to 8 or so to retain detail.  (Or you may want to use a larger opening to blur all but the flower…artistic choice)

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Next to Lupine I really love the wild Iris that grows all over Sonoma County from the beach to the foothills:

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One of the less attractive plants (but certainly the most interesting) was the Soap Plant. It only blooms at night since it needs moths to pollinate it, so we didn’t see any flowers. And while the plain green leaves aren’t much to look at, if you look closely at the ground around them you’ll see little “brushes” coming out of the ground.  It’s actually part of the root and Indians did  make brushes from them! ( See what cool things you learn on a guided hike!)

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Along with the wildflowers you’ll see some animals:

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If you’d like to bring a picnic, there are tables scattered around the park for your dining pleasure and  lots of beautiful,

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peaceful views…

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And a few more flowers..

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For more information to to: http://parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov/Activities.aspx

There are a few guided hikes left this spring and I plan to do all I can!IMG_6125adj

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