Tips for Photographing Wildflowers in and around Merced County

Wildflowers 14
Photo by Friedhelm Golz
Photo by Friedhelm Golz

One early Saturday morning while I was photographing wildflowers, a pick-up truck stopped not too far from me. The entire family got out of the truck with cameras and they began photographing the wildflowers.

I imagine they went home afterwards and shared their images at home on a large screen tv or their favorite social media site. Photographing wildflowers can be a very rewarding experience for the single photographer or a fun project for the entire family.

Location, gear and skill

In order to make this endeavor a success I suggest to consider three points, location, gear and skill.

Photo by Friedhelm Golz
Photo by Friedhelm Golz

1. Location

If you want to photograph wildflowers, you need to know where to find wildflowers. There are some great locations in and around Merced. An absolute fantastic place is at the corner of Santa Fe and Hwy 140 right by the overpass.

Another great spot is an empty field on Yosemite Ave. across from Starbucks. There are also many wildflowers blooming along highway 99. Just be careful to observe all traffic laws and be especially careful when you are photographing with children!

Another great place for wildflowers during March is the Hite Cove trail located between Mariposa and Yosemite on hwy. 140.  Here you will find fields of California poppies and all kinds of other great wildflowers. Again, watch your children, be mindful of poison oak, and rattle snakes.

Photo by Friedhelm Golz
Photo by Friedhelm Golz

Other great places for wild flowers are in the three local National Parks (Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia), the California coast and the desert regions in southern California. My favorite park for wildflowers is the Anza - Borrego Desert State Park which is east of San Diego, CA.

2. Gear

Besides your camera, a few items can help to make your wildflower adventure a success. If you  just want to occasionally photograph a few wildflowers,  a simple point and shoot camera or a cell phone will do just fine.

If on the other side you are getting more serious about photography,  I recommend a DSLR or system camera with a macro lens. In addition, you will need a tripod, cable or wireless release, a light diffuser/ reflector and a small wind tent. The light diffuser and tent can be purchased for about $25 each at Amazon or Ebay.

Photo by Friedhelm Golz
Photo by Friedhelm Golz

If you do not want to purchase these items, consider taking at least a hat with you. Besides protecting you from the sun, a hat can be used to create a shadow on your favorite flower if you want to photograph in bright sunshine during the middle of the day.  Also, bring a small spray bottle filled with water. Spraying a few drops of water on a flower to can help get a more interesting image.

3. Skill

Consider that buying a piano does not make you a pianist, and buying a stove does not make you into a great chef. The same is true for photography. A new camera does not change you into a great photographer! To be or become a great photographer you need to practice, study and practice some more.

Tips to better your skill of photography

I will try to give you a few suggestions that I found very helpful photographing wildflowers:

Photo by Friedhelm Golz
Photo by Friedhelm Golz

1. Avoid direct sunlight

As a rule of thumb, try to avoid photographing wildflowers in direct sunlight except early in the morning or during the late afternoon hours. Your camera sees and records light differently than the human eye. That is why the hat can come handy when you find a flower in bright sunlight. You can use it to block out the sun to get a better image.

2. Fill the frame of your camera!

I have seen many images where the flower was a tiny little spot in the middle of the image surrounded by a whole lot of nothing. I usually take my

I have seen many images where the flower was a tiny little spot in the middle of the image surrounded by a whole lot of nothing. I usually take my 7"tablet with me, which I connect to my camera. It helps me tremendously in composing my image.

Photo by Friedhelm Golz
Photo by Friedhelm Golz

3.  Take your time

Use your imagination and creativity. It is better to come home with a few great images than with hundreds of pictures that you delete right away.

Also, try different angles, for example:  Photograph from the viewpoint of a child and/or experiment with a reflector.

4. Know your camera!

Your camera can do amazing work! Get to know it, study the manual and practice with it. The more you know about your camera the more likely you will be rewarded with amazing results.

5. Edit you images!

Your camera sensor "sees" differently than the human eye. Try to photograph a tree or any other subject in front of a blue sky.

Either the tree will be very dark or the sky will be washed out. Your eye can see both, but your camera is limited. Editing images means to re-create to a certain degree what the human eye saw or imagined.

Photo by Friedhelm Golz
Photo by Friedhelm Golz

6. Study a book or take a class

Before you go out and photograph, read a book, or watch an instructional video on www.youtube.com. I learned a lot from those videos and I avoided a few mistakes and received a lot of inspiration. I also encourage you to take a class on photography.

I also encourage you to take a class on photography. I will be teaching a photography classat Merced Community Services (www.mercedcommunityservices.com).

This class is a great introduction for everyone who wants to become a better photographer.

Go online or call (209) 384-6224 to register.

7. Share your images!

I believe that there is a lot of joy in sharing your images. Print out the best and frame them or share your images with the world using social media. You can also easily create a photoblog using one of the free blogging sites.

Photographing wildflowers is a lot of fun.

It is refreshing to be out in nature where you get a glimpse of the beauty of this earth.

If you have any questions, please email me (frgolz@yahoo.com).

I hope that you sign up for my Merced Community Service class so that I can share my knowledge of photography with you.


About Fred Golz

about me (1)

Friedhelm (Fred) Golz is a local photographer (co-owner of Eye2Eye Photostudio), blogger, and educator.  Born in Germany, he immigrated to California after he married Nancy, a native Californian. He settled in Merced where his daughter and son grew up.

He teaches photography classes at Merced College community services. He is an active contributor to two photo blogs:www.photoblog.eye2eyephotostudio.com, where he shares some of his images.

Also,  www.passionforphotos.com, a photo blog that publishes weekly exercises for photographers.

He can be reached at frgolz@yahoo.com

Creative Blur: A Photography Family Fun Project for Long Winter Nights

Collage Blur 01

The Winter Holidays are approaching quickly and many of us are getting pretty busy shopping, cleaning and preparing.  Sometimes we forget that the most precious gift we can give to our loved-ones is our time and attention.

Here is an idea for a fun photography project that almost everyone can do: Purposely blur your images!

There are several ways to do that.

1.Turn off the autofocus on your camera (if possible) and blur your image manually.

2. You can shake your camera while pressing the shutter.

3. You can put a gel or an old stocking in front of your lens. I have even tried some Vaseline which I applied on an old filter, not on the lens directly. Be cautious, it can be messy.

4. You can also blur your images using a program called Photoshop or Photoshop elements.

After you have taken your images you may organize them in a collage. This is a lot of fun because everyone will do this differently.

I used my images and edited them like they were taken with a Polaroid camera, and then I created two different collages.

Most importantly, have some fun and be creative!


About

about Fred

about Fred

Friedhelm (Fred) Golz is a local photographer (co-owner of Eye2Eye Photostudio), blogger, and educator.  Born in Germany, he immigrated to California after he married Nancy, a native Californian. He settled in Merced where his daughter and son grew up.

He teaches photography classes at Merced College community services. He is an active contributor to two photo blogs:www.photoblog.eye2eyephotostudio.com, where he shares some of his images.

Also,  www.passionforphotos.com, a photo blog that publishes weekly exercises for photographers.

He can be reached at frgolz@yahoo.com

About Fred

About

about me (1)
about me (1)

Friedhelm (Fred) Golz is a local photographer (co-owner of Eye2Eye Photostudio), blogger, and educator.  Born in Germany, he immigrated to California after he married Nancy, a native Californian. He settled in Merced where his daughter and son grew up.

He teaches photography classes at Merced College community services. He is an active contributor to two photo blogs:www.photoblog.eye2eyephotostudio.com, where he shares some of his images.

Also,  www.passionforphotos.com, a photo blog that publishes weekly exercises for photographers.

He can be reached at frgolz@yahoo.com

Photographing at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge

FG Merced Refuge 08

A true gem in Merced County

The Merced National Wildlife Refuge is a true gem in Merced County. The 10, 000-acre wildlife refuge is located on Sandy Mush road about 16 miles outside the city of Merced.

Photo by F. Golz
Photo by F. Golz

You are able to drive a loop around the refuge where you can observe all kinds of waterfowl, especially during the winter months when the refuge is home to thousands honking and squawking migratory birds that fill the skies and land on the water in the refuge.

Photography tips to use in the refuge

The refuge has two platforms for bird watching and two blinds where you can hide and observe nature at her finest.

I highly recommend visiting the park very early in the morning or an hour before sunset.

Photo by F. Golz
Photo by F. Golz

The sunsets are unbelievably beautiful when there are clouds in the sky. Take your camera with a telephoto lens and a tripod and you will be rewarded with beautiful images.

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If you do not know how to take great pictures, go and take a class at Merced College.

You can also email me at frgolz@yahoo.com.

Photo by F. Golz
Photo by F. Golz

For more information about the refuge

More information about the Merced National Wildlife refuge can be found at the following websites:

http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=81652

http://www.fws.gov/refuge/merced/

All Photos by Fred Golz

About

about Fred

about Fred

Friedhelm (Fred) Golz is a local photographer (co-owner of Eye2Eye Photostudio), blogger, and educator.  Born in Germany, he immigrated to California after he married Nancy, a native Californian. He settled in Merced where his daughter and son grew up.

He teaches photography classes at Merced College community services. He is an active contributor to two photo blogs:www.photoblog.eye2eyephotostudio.com, where he shares some of his images.

Also,  www.passionforphotos.com, a photo blog that publishes weekly exercises for photographers.

He can be reached at frgolz@yahoo.com

Photographing at a Pumpkin Patch

Photo by Fred Golz

Photo by Fred Golz

A visit to a pumpkin patch is great fun for the entire family

The kids can enjoy hay rides and walking through corn mazes. The whole family can participate in the quest for perfect pumpkins to carve or decorate their homes. Personally, I enjoy all of the photographic possibilities at the pumpkin patch.  There is plenty of fall beauty to photograph at a pumpkin patch!

Photo by Fred Golz

Photo by Fred Golz

Hunter Farms, Atwater

When I arrived at the Hunter Farms Pumpkin Patch in Atwater on opening day, I was welcomed by Mr. Scott Hunter who gave me permission to photograph at the pumpkin patch. As a photographer, it is always a good practice to talk to the owner about rules and limitations in order to establish trust.

After looking around the barn and the artful arrangement of the pumpkins, I decided to photograph in the shady areas since at 5:00 PM the light was not right yet for creating the images that I had in mind.

Photo by Fred Golz

Photo by Fred Golz

Mr. Hunter took me on a hay ride where I photographed the displays that included mountain lions and dinosaurs. After the hay ride, the light got better and I photographed the new water wheel, flowers that were growing on the property, and of course, many pumpkins. Walking around the property, I also discovered an old truck that was beautifully decorated.

Photo by Fred Golz

Photo by Fred Golz

Mr. Hunter also took me over to the "Critter Coral" where he fed the animals as I pressed the shutter on my camera repeatedly.

Photo by Fred Golz

Photo by Fred Golz

After photographing the sunset in a corn field, I photographed some great images with the moon rising over the barn.

Photo by Fred Golz

Photo by Fred Golz

 

I hope you enjoy my images as much as I enjoyed my trip to the Hunter pumpkin patch.

If you need a photographer for an event or if you would like to be photographed in the pumpkin patch setting, please email(frgolz@yahoo.com) or call me (559) 892-9209.

About

about Fred

about Fred

Friedhelm (Fred) Golz is a local photographer (co-owner of Eye2Eye Photostudio), blogger, and educator.  Born in Germany, he immigrated to California after he married Nancy, a native Californian. He settled in Merced where his daughter and son grew up.

He teaches photography classes at Merced College community services. He is an active contributor to two photo blogs:www.photoblog.eye2eyephotostudio.com, where he shares some of his images.

Also,  www.passionforphotos.com, a photo blog that publishes weekly exercises for photographers.

He can be reached at frgolz@yahoo.com

Photographing Fall Colors in Yosemite

Photo by Fred Golz

Photo by Fred Golz

Fall time Adventure with your camera in  Yosemite

Visiting Yosemite Valley during the fall is a treat for the senses. Entering the Valley you will discover nature at her finest with incredible autumn colors!

Before you start your trip to Yosemite National Park it is strongly recommended that you check the weather conditions by visiting the official website of the park available at http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm. While you are on the website, you can also look at the webcams in the park to get a visual idea about what to expect.

Photo by F. Golz
Photo by F. Golz

It is also a good idea to have an extra set of clothing because it can be quite cold early in the morning or in the evening after sunset.

In addition, it is a good idea to have plenty of water and food in the car, especially if you plan to hike a lot and you don't want to take the time to eat in one of the restaurants in the Valley.

Coming from Merced, take Hwy 140 which will lead you through Mariposa and then along the beautiful Merced River into Yosemite National Park.

Photo by F. Golz
Photo by F. Golz

I recommend stopping along the Merced River at a few places because the colors of the leaves on both sides of the river are changing and you may get some incredible images before you even enter the park.

Dogwood trees

After passing the entry station, you can stop again at the Merced River and look for dogwood trees. The dogwood leaves turn a beautiful red color during the month of October.If you photograph these red leaves with water as a backdrop you will get some awesome images.

Photo by F. Golz
Photo by F. Golz

I also recommend walking along the creek beds and the base of the major waterfalls. You will find beautiful yellow leaves around rocks or in the water that can be captured with your camera. Keep in mind the rocks can be very slippery even in the fall when there is not much water in the streams.

I would definitely stop at the Ahwahnee hotel during the late afternoon. When the sun shines from behind the leaves you can catch some amazing images. 

About thirty minutes before sunset I would get ready to photograph Half Dome or the entire valley from Inspiration point. The sunsets are usually exceptionally beautiful which creates the opportunity for some staggering images.

Join the class

If you would like to join me on a photographic field trip, please click on www.mercedcommunityservices.com and register for the "Fall Colors in Yosemite” trip. You will be rewarded with expert photographic guidance as you capture great images in your camera in one of our most spectacular National Parks during the beautiful season of fall.  Pictures below were taken in the 2014 class in Yosemite.  Why not join us next time?

Photo by Fred Golz

Photo by Fred Golz

Photo by Fred Golz

Photo by Fred Golz

Photo by Fred Golz

Photo by Fred Golz

One last word about cameras and equipment:

You don't need a super fancy camera to capture incredible images. For starters, a $100 point and shoot camera can create some great images. I have even seen people with smart phones and tablets photographing in Yosemite. Optionally, if you want to photograph in dark areas, or after sunset, I would suggest bringing a tripod. Otherwise, an open mind and time to discover is your best friend in photography.

I have photographed in Yosemite for many years and I would be happy to be your guide and photographic teacher for a great day in our magnificent Yosemite National Park!

All Photos are by Fred Golz

 

About:

about Fred

about Fred

Friedhelm (Fred) Golz is a local photographer (co-owner of Eye2Eye Photostudio), blogger,and educator.  Born in Germany, he immigrated to California after he married Nancy, a native Californian. He settled in Merced where his daughter and son grew up.

He teaches photography classes at Merced College community services. He is an active contributor to two photo blogs:www.photoblog.eye2eyephotostudio.com, where he shares some of his images.

Also,  www.passionforphotos.com, a photo blog that publishes weekly exercises for photographers.

He can be reached at frgolz@yahoo.com