Southern California wildflower super bloom.

Southern California wildflower super bloom.

Photo by: Ian Shive

Ian Shive

Capturing a Fleeting Moment: California’s Super Bloom

California’s super bloom is a visual spectacle. From the deserts of Anza-Borrego to the vast Carrizo Plain National Monument, abundant seasonal rains produce a carpet of color across a large portion of the state.

May 18, 2020

Even within the limits of Los Angeles, flowers are popping up everywhere you look. The opportunity to see them is unfortunately short-lived, as the warm summer sun will soon turn the colorful hillsides golden.

We're sorry, there seems to be an issue playing this video. Please refresh the page or try again in a moment. If you continue to have issues, please contact us here.

Nature in Focus | Capturing the Super Bloom
Loading Video...

Capuring the Moment

Photographing flowers is as enjoyable as it is challenging. There are truly an endless number of ways to approach this. One of the first challenges is deciding on a creative approach: What do you want your images to look like? This is something you should consider before any shoot, regardless of whether you are taking a portrait of a friend, a landscape photo, or a detail of a flower. You should always pre-visualize what you want your image to look like. Ask yourself, "When I think of the perfect photo of this scene, what does my imagination conjure?" That’s the best place to start. You can deviate from this, but at least you have a jumping-off point.

Carizzo Plain National Monument, California - super bloom of wildflowers.

Carizzo Plain National Monument, California - super bloom of wildflowers.

Photo by: Ian Shive

Ian Shive

All About the Composition

A lot of how I choose the compositions I make is based around a feeling I get, an instinct of sorts, when I see a scene. That means you have to really tap into what it is you, too, are feeling. Are you struck by a particular hillside filled with color? Is the light coming through clouds in an unusual way, highlighting an area in the distance? That’s what you should focus on. The ability to take technically proficient photos is becoming easier and easier as technology improves, but what really defines the quality of an image is the ability to replicate that scene. The harder it is for that moment to be replicated, the more special and unique your shot will be. The super bloom is a great example of that fleeting moment that allows us to show people a moment in time the isn’t easily replicated. Now if you can add a layer to it such as unique lighting, a hard to get to angle, or a passing storm or other phenomenon, you have capitalized on a true once in a lifetime experience.

Carizzo Plain National Monument, California - super bloom of wildflowers.

Carizzo Plain National Monument, California - super bloom of wildflowers.

Photo by: Ian Shive

Ian Shive

Tips on Photographing Flowers

There are other ways to make your wild flower images stand out, super bloom or not. First, don’t photograph flowers from a normal angle. Get down on the ground, on their level, and shoot across from them, or even up at them from below! It’ll open up more creative compositions. If you do photograph from above, shoot straight down and try to hone in on unusual patterns and shapes in the flowers, especially when using a macro lens. A lot of times wind causes flowers to blow, making them blurry. Think of how you can incorporate that into your shot, perhaps using slow shutter speeds on a windy day to make very dramatic imagery.

See More Super Bloom Photos

Photography is about storytelling. Use your lenses and skills to communicate something, even if it is just a field of wildflowers. For the super bloom, I try to convey the abundance of flowers and variety of species. Some like to grow in disturbed soils, some like to grow near water. Others like slopes facing a certain direction, while others prefer the shade. Each of these points is a story element that adds texture to your photography.

Next Up

The Untold Journey of the African House Gecko's Treck across the Atlantic Ocean

Reptile roadtrip? How the African house gecko traveled from Africa across to the Americas.

Caring for Coral at Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium is home to a variety of coral species that come in an array of different shapes and colors. The coral reef wall in Georgia Aquarium’s Tropical Diver gallery is one of the largest coral walls in any aquarium. Propagation aquarists at the Aquarium cultivate and transplant live coral from a behind-the-scenes aquaculture pool to the reef wall in their Tropical Diver gallery.

Meet This Unique Otter Species

A few months ago, Georgia Aquarium welcomed two new additions to their Asian small-clawed otter habitat. Triton, a 4-year-old female, and Han, a 3-year-old male, joined the Aquarium as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP).

Rare Whales Spotted in California

A handful of sightings of rare whales have been recorded off the coast of California in recent weeks, leading some to wonder what’s causing the magnificent beasts to swim up to the ocean surface.

The Largest Living Thing on Earth Is a 3.5-Square-Mile Fungus

The blue whale is the biggest animal on Earth, but it’s not Earth’s biggest life form. No, the blue whale pales in comparison to the actual largest living thing on the planet: the humongous fungus.

How to Help Florida’s Imperiled Manatees

One morning earlier this spring, a young male manatee was found stranded, starving, and distressed on the beach of the Palm Coast.

Caring for Endangered Species at Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium is proud to care for over ten different endangered species, from small poison dart frogs to the largest fish in the sea, whale sharks. Every day, these animals face natural threats as well as human impacts, and as their numbers decrease it affects our planet’s ecosystems.

Saving Hawaii’s Native Species

Not so very long ago, Hawaii was a remote island, populated solely by endemic flora and fauna–and its native inhabitants. Now, however, it is known throughout the world as a must-visit tourist destination, while Americans have moved to the islands in their masses, buying up beachfront properties.

The World’s Smelliest Flower Blooms Once a Decade

In previous years, corpse flower blooms have drawn large crowds and three-hour wait times. What makes this stinky flora so special?

There is Hope for the Future of Polar Bears Threatened by Climate Change

Scientific researchers have recently identified a sub-population of polar bears in southeastern Greenland that survive by hunting on glacial slush. The discovery of their unique behaviors is helping scientists understand the future of this species whose habitats are threatened by climate change.

Related To: