Carrizo Plain: Day Two

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California / Carrizo Plian / Floral Photography / Landscape / Nature / Photography


Day Two? What happened to Day One?

Day One has been postponed in order to save the best for last.

The Carrizo Plain is known for many things. In the Spring, it’s known for wildflowers — especially this year, when it is the site of a super bloom. Super blooms happen in years that have had a far greater that average rainfall, and we certainly had that in California this year.

When we arrived on Tuesday afternoon, the sky was dark and dramatic: horizon-to-horizon silver-rimmed wet clouds with shafts of sunbeams drawing ever-changing patterns on the plain and hillsides. A photographer’s dream. Day Two? With apologies to John Lennon:


We came back to play


On our second day

The sun was out

The sky was blue

The light was flat

So boo hoo hoo


Even still you made us smile.

On the second day we got up early to catch the morning light. We should have gotten up earlier. By the time we traversed the hour and a half from San Luis Obispo to the Plain, the early morning clouds had dispersed, leaving a clear blue utterly boring sky. Ten- to thirty-mile-per-hour winds made macro photography out of the question.

We decided to explore and let photography be our second priority.

Still we got some good stuff.

The shot above was taken with a telephoto looking at the crest of a small rise with the Temblor Range in the distance. (The mountains are well named: the San Andreas Fault runs along their western slope.)

We headed our exploration in a southerly direction in mid-afternoon — traveling the length of the Plain with an eye toward being in Lancaster in time for a late dinner and Poppies the next day. (Stay tuned.)

It’s mostly dirt road going south — slow going in a VW GTI, which has a fairly stiff suspension. For a long while we were the only people as far as we could see, leaving us all the time in the world to stop in the middle of the road and leisurely take pictures. We crawled along. Then, way off to the left, we saw a strip of bright purple. Bright. Purple. A mirage? Couldn’t be flowers. Could it? We’d never know.

It was miles away and there was seemingly no way to get to it. We drove bumpily along, admiring from afar. After we were thoroughly resigned to a forever unsolved mystery, a side road appeared. Left turn, half-mile drive to a parking loop. And a mile-long trail. As we walked along the narrow track we were slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, immersed in a purple ocean. It was delightful. The vista was amazing. The aroma was almost overpowering. No sound but the breeze. Is this still Earth? You decide. Inside looking out.


This is the pick of the first cull of Day Two.

Tomorrow: Day One.

(Nikon D500, Tamron 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD. Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.2; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. Carolle-Ann Mochernuk, says

    Michael – Are you sure the Carrizo Plain is not a painting? What a beauty! Also, what is that purple flower in that meadow? What a sight! Thank you.


  2. Pretty amazing, and great! to see these seas of flowers. The yellows are pretty, but it’s that rich purple that’s a real knockout for me.


  3. Gorgeous images, Michael. Love the contrasts in the first with the angles of the hills. The sea of purple is amazing, isn’t it? Wonderful shot from close range. Incredible colors in both!


  4. I see that I went out of order since I figured day 1 was first. Those are great shots and I wish I had been there, but it is hard to turn one’s nose up at a huge layout of Purplenessa gloriosus.


      • I’ve done that with multiple image shoots too, but for me it’s a matter of minutes rather than days. I try to save the better for last but sometimes just can’t keep it to myself that long.


  5. Really amazing….I see this isn’t far from L.A. – another place to explore one day, since flights from here to there aren’t long. Do you know what the purple flowers are?


    • It’s definitely worth the trip. Nearest town with any place to stay is San Luis Obispo, about an hour and a half away. I forget what the purple flowers are called, but I think it’s further up the list of comments.


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