April Photo Adventure – Waterfalls and Wildflowers
Looking for a fun April photo adventure in the Bay Area? The welcome rains of the El Nino have brought with them flowing waterfalls along with an abundance of wildflowers in the Bay Area hills. Try heading out to Uvas Canyon County Park to photograph the waterfalls and follow up with a stop at Rancho Canada del Oro Open Space Preserve to photograph the wildflowers. Due to the recent rains waterfall conditions should be good through May, but don’t wait too long because the best of the wildflowers will most likely be over soon.
Uvas Canyon County Park: Map
Start your day here with a hike along the Waterfall Loop Trail. I recommend getting an early start. In the morning the majority of the canyon is shaded allowing for even lighting and slow shutter speeds which enable you to blur the water motion in the waterfalls.Try to be at the park by at 8:00 AM.
The trail climbs up a canyon that follows Swanson Creek as it drops more than 500 feet within .75 miles. Along this stretch the creek is a nearly continuous cascade passing over rocks and through small pools. Along the way are several small waterfalls that create some outstanding photo opportunities. This is a moderate 1.5 to 2 mile hike round trip.
More Images from Uvas Canyon:
Rancho Canada Del Oro Open Space Preserve
Next head to Rancho Canada Del Oro Open Space Preserve for the wildfowers (Map).
Give yourself about a half hour to drive to Rancho Canada del Oro. After parking take a stroll around the half mile Llagas Loop trail adjacent to the parking area. The trail loops around a meadow that is currently full of purple lupine, fiddleneck, checkerbloom and vetch.
If you have more time and the desire to photograph more flowers, head across the road from the parking area to the Longwall Canyon trailhead. This trail leads through the backside of Calero County Park along a dirt road. Here you will find more wildflowers including California Poppies, Owl Clover, Western Blue Eyed Grass and Johnny Jump Ups to name a few. Continue along the trail for 0.5 miles to the Rancho Canada del Oro entrance. Take the trail to the left and head into the preserve. Depending on how much time you have and your physical condition you may want to stop here. But if you feel like exploring some more, I like to continue up the Longwall Canyon Trail where you are bound to find some Fairy Lanterns, one of my favorite flowers in the preserve.
Wildflower Photo tip: I like to carry an 8×10 piece of black Matte Board to place behind flowers in order to hide distracting backgrounds or create dramatic flower portraits.
Look closely at the flowers. I managed to find this Yellow Flower Spider, Mecaphesa californica, hiding in an Owl Clover blossom. The first time I spotted him he was feasting on a Forage Looper Moth. One week later he was still hanging out on the same Owl Clover blossom.