Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring at Tejon Ranch - Wildflowers In The Tehachapi Mountains

Field of Wildflowers - Tejon Ranch, California
Every spring the hillsides on the western Tehachapi Mountains turn deep green with vibrant wildflower blossoms speckled in. This year, being an El NiƱo season, has brought lots of rain and an epic bloom.

The historic Tejon Ranch sits on the western side of the Tehachapi Mountains between The Grapevine and Keene. This ranch has existed since before California's statehood, and it is the largest privately owned land in California.

An Army outpost was active on the ranch from 1854-1864, and the remnants are now a part of the California State Parks system. In 1991 artist Christo placed 1,760 yellow umbrellas in the Tehachapi mountains on Tejon Ranch. After only three weeks the umbrellas were removed after some of them toppled in the high winds that the area is known for.
Spring At Tejon Ranch - Tejon Ranch, California
I've wanted to get out and photograph the wildflowers for a couple of weeks now. I knew that if I didn't photograph them quickly my opportunity would soon run out. I promised my wife that I would capture a couple of family pictures in the wildflowers, as well.

Last Thursday I did a little scouting along California Highway 223 northeast of Arvin. I found a spot that was covered in yellow blossoms, but it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. I captured a few images anyway.

My wife suggested a different place, along old U.S. Highway 466 a little to the north, just beyond the Bakersfield National Cemetery. She had seen it from California Highway 58 and it looked promising. It wasn't a good time to try, so we made plans to go the next day.
Rustic Gate - Tejon Ranch, California
After breakfast on Friday and after getting ready we all loaded up in the car and headed towards the spot that we wanted to see. The weather forecast called for afternoon showers beginning around one. It was partly cloudy when we began.

We found a dirt pullout along the old highway and parked the car. The place that we suspected might have a lot of wildflowers was on the other side of the Tejon Ranch fence. We climbed a small hill and found a spot where the barbed wire fence was broken, allowing access. Once on the other side I set up the tripod and, using the self-timer, snapped the first family photo.

Inside the ranch property was a dirt road that paralleled the fence, which we followed around a bend. As we walked along the dirt road the amount of ground covered by wildflowers increased. The sky was beginning to look more dark and threatening, but, for the most part, the sun was shining. The wind was gusty.
Fence & Yellow Blossoms - Tejon Ranch, California
Once around the bend this vibrant hillside opened up. It was covered with brilliant blossoms! It was incredible, very dreamlike. It almost didn't seem real. The wildflowers seemed endless!

I made some exposures, then set up the tripod for some more family pictures. What I didn't realize at the time was that my six-year-old son was being uncooperative. He was making funny and sour faces the whole time. But because I wasn't in front of the camera I had no idea. I didn't find out until reviewing the exposures later.

We didn't want to spend too much time at this spot. The storm was getting closer. We were clearly visible from Highway 58, and we even had some of the freeway traffic wave and honk at us. We certainly didn't need to be "caught" behind the fence. After a few more pictures we headed back to the car.
Tejon Ranch Gate - Tejon Ranch, California
As we rounded the bend back towards the broken fence near where our car was parked, the kids were walking ahead of me. My wife said that I should capture a photo. Normally I don't like people telling me what I should or shouldn't photograph, but she was absolutely right about this. It turned out to be a favorite from this adventure.

The rain started to fall just after we had left Tejon Ranch, climbed back down the small hill and were approaching our car. It was one o'clock, exactly on schedule. Lunch was enjoyed at the historic Keene Cafe.

These photographs were captured using a Sony RX100 II camera. A tripod was used for the family pictures. I post-processed the images using Alien Skin Exposure X. The landscapes (including Courageous Together) were made to look like they were captured using Kodak Ektachrome 100SWRoesch Family On The Grassy Hill was made to look like Kodak Ektachrome 100 and Roesch Family In Spring was made to look like Kodak 100 Ultra Color. 
Roesch Family On The Grassy Hill - Tejon Ranch, California
Tehachapi Mountains In Spring - Tejon Ranch, California
Hillside Wildflower Blossom - Tejon Ranch, California
Roesch Family In Spring - Tejon Ranch, California
California Wildflowers - Tejon Ranch, California
Field of Bloom - Tejon Ranch, California
Tehachapi Hills In Spring - Tejon Ranch, California
Courageous Together - Tejon Ranch, California

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