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.