Purple and Gold

A spring wildflower super bloom paints the hillsides of the inland regions of southern California.

In the spring of 2019, my wife and I had decided to take a weekend trip from our home along the coast of southern California. Heading inland, we lunched at one of the local wineries, sampling the local wine, then worked our way through some of the local shops of this increasingly popular region. We were returning home, by way of Interstate 15, when we began to see bright orange and purple wildflowers on the hills along the north side of the interstate. We then noticed lines of cars streaming onto the frontage road that provides access to the hillside trails. The more we saw the more were amazed at the range of color and the scope of this wildflower bloom. We had to see this up close.

This image was one of many that I took that day with the best camera I had with me, my smartphone. I truly connected with this scene of vibrant gold and purple colors, as those happen to be my high school’s colors. The two yellow Bush Poppies were also a pleasant surprise, given the abundance of California Poppies and Sky Lupines. The pattern of gold and purple stripes leading up the hill, also resonated, since they matched the patterns on our high school mascot, the Tiger. The greatest impact, however, was the immense feeling of awe at the scope and beauty of this wildflower bloom.

We were fortunate to have happened onto this phenomenon by accident, when we did. The news of this localized wildflower super bloom was reported on the local SoCal news channels and on the following weekend, an estimated 100,000 visitors descended onto these same trails, to witness this spectacular display. Cars were parked on the interstate, with visitors walking to the freeway exits to get access to the trails that led into the hillsides. Ariel photographs showed the colors of this wildflower super bloom ranging for miles into the nearby hills.

Specific Feedback Requested

Use of smartphone? Processing jpg format? Use of contrast? Color too much?

Technical Details

Samsung Smartphone Galaxy s10, ISO 50, 4.3 mm, f/ 1.5, 1/3000 sec. Processed in LR with color adjustments, contrast, and exposure changes. Cropped for composition.


The colors and abundance are quite striking, Marlin with the angle of the hillside adding a sense of motion. There’s a subtle loss of sharpness in the blooms in the lower right corner. Some burning-in there would reduce how much attention that cluster gets.

Mark, thank you for the comments and idea for improvement. I will play with that corner.