What a Year!

This year started out great for photography with acceptance into the  2020 Anza Borrego Desert Photo Contest . This contest was preceded, in the spring of 2019, by a spectacular super bloom in the Coachella Valley and surrounding areas, a super bloom of quality and quantity that had not been seen in decades. And I was there for both of these shows!

Anza Borrego Desert Photo Contest

One of my favorite places is the Anza Borrego Desert State Park in southeastern CA. It covers over 600,000 acres of wilderness and  mountains, much of it inaccessible except on foot. What is accessible are vast areas of badlands, palm oases, slot canyons, 4 wheel drive roads, broad vistas – a landscape photographer’s paradise. Each year a photo contest, limited to images taken within the park boundaries, entices hundreds of photographers to show their work.

Although photographing there for years, it did not occur to me to enter the photo contest until last summer, after having spent many hours pursuing the fabulous wildflowers of the super bloom. I had lots of images to choose from and submitted, digitally,  the 10 allowed. I was surprised and pleased when 8 of those 10 made the first cut, the final couple hundred from which the judges would pick winners in each of the six categories. Submission then required the images to be printed, mounted and delivered to Borrego Springs, a small town that sits in the middle of the Park. Wintering now in the Coachella Valley, it was a pleasure for me to make the delivery. Here are the 8.

The last two images, Palm Oasis and Feast for a Desert Prince,  were awarded Honorable Mention in the Black and White and Animals category, respectively, and were displayed, along with all the winners, during the month of February at the Borrego Art Institute in Borrego Springs.  At the excellent critique session that preceded the opening reception I discovered, to my surprise, that almost all the winners were local, professional photographers. I was in very good company.

Super Bloom 2019

The images above with wildflowers were taken in the spring of 2019 during that amazing super bloom. I was enchanted with the wildflowers, vast fields of which replaced the drab greens, grays and tans of the desert with purple, pink, yellow and white. They appeared not only in the expanses of the neighboring parks but also on every vacant lot, every patch of bare ground in the urban sprawl of the Coachella Valley.

I marveled at the vistas, but also saw stunning arrangements of flower varieties set among rocks, in dry arroyos, up hillsides and, of course, individual flowers. I photographed them all hoping, someday, someway to give others a glimpse of this glory. A book? Sure, but then I was daunted by the task of identifying all those flowers and just set the whole idea aside. The Anza Borrego Photo Contest spurred me to cull these photos for suitable entries, but the real motivator to create a book was the COVID19 pandemic with its mandated stay at home regimen.

The book, Super Bloom 2019, was just published by Blurb, You can see a preview of the whole book here. What follows are some of the images not in the book.

Costa Rica

 

I went on my first ever photography workshop, to Costa Rica, in early
June 2018. It was just the beginning of the rainy season and although
there was rain most days it did not last long and did not interfere with
our expeditions. Indeed, some of the macro images of plants and
flowers benefited from the left over water droplets. The heat and
humidity were impressive to this desert dweller.CR book jpegs-68
The Osa Peninsula, where we spent the entire trip, is at the southwestern corner of Costa Rica. Although this small country has 5 million
inhabitants,  3 1/2 million of them live in the capital, San Jose. The rest of the country is sparsely populated and the Osa Peninsula is largely rain forest. Within this small peninsula live an astonishing variety of wildlife, including all four species of monkey found in the country.
Lush tropical plants, flowers, bugs and birds abound.

The pace of this workshop was exhausting but the company was good and the food and accommodations superb. I came home with about 1500 images (and that was minimal; one man took 10,000 pictures!) and was totally overwhelmed with the prospect of culling then editing them. I set them aside for a few months, occasionally checking to see if anything looked worth pursuing but not being tempted until I came upon the image above. It made me smile and inspired me to seek out others that had that quality. Invariably these were of monkeys and so the theme Monkey Business emerged. I created a book and had a show at the local library with that title. Once started I found choosing and editing with a purpose the enjoyable activity I’ve always experienced. The book and the show were rounded out with images of other creatures and colorful flora. Here are some of the images shown.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

BTW, I donated¬† sales from the library show to the library’s Children’s Programs, ~$250;¬† very satisfying.

I plan to add a gallery page with these and more images from Costa Rica in a format that will allow you to pick and choose and linger if you like. Watch this space!