Heavy rains bring abundant life to a California desert
ABUNDANT FALL AND WINTER RAINS after years of drought transformed California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park into a floral paradise last spring, when an eruption of wildflowers, or “super bloom,” carpeted the ground for as far as the eye could see. During 35 years as a garden photographer, Saxon Holt had never seen a super bloom until this one, an unforgettable experience. “What made it exciting was not only the quantity of individual flowers but the number of species going off at the same time”—from shrubs and perennials to ephemeral wildflowers that arose after years of dormancy.
Among them, these yellow desert sunflowers and purple sand verbenas caught his eye. To capture this scene despite the harsh midday light, Holt lay on his belly and used a telephoto lens to blur the foreground and distance, leaving only the central blooms crisp. “This creates a window and a sense of intimacy, as if peeking into a scene,” he says. “You honor the flower by getting down to its level.”
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