Expert Voices

The Vibrant Wildflowers of Carrizo National Monument (Photos)

Blooms galore

wildflowers, carizzo

(Image credit: Photo by Bob Wick, BLM)

Bob Wick is a photographer and U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wilderness specialist. He contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The Carrizo Plain is an amazing canvas for wildflower photography, with a landscape dominated by white alkali flats, vast open grasslands and a broad plain rimmed by mountains. (Learn more about Carrizo Plain in Wick's Expert Voices essay "How to Photograph Wildflowers".)

Flowers in abundance

wildflowers, carizzo

(Image credit: Photo by Bob Wick, BLM)

Photo Tip: Having a focal point in addition to flowers, like this rock in the background, will add interest to a composition. The flowers here are Castilleja exserta, subspecies exerta, in Carrizo Plain National Monument.

Colors on a canvas

wildflowers, carizzo

(Image credit: Photo by Bob Wick, BLM)

Photo Tip: Curiously, wildflowers often mix together complimentary colors. Finding areas where this occurs makes for interesting photos. These flowers are a mix of Monolopia lanceolata and Phacelia tanacetifolia.

Setting the stage

wildflowers, carizzo

(Image credit: Photo by Bob Wick, BLM)

Photo Tip: Use a small aperture (f/16 and below) to ensure a crisp focus from the closest flowers to the distant peaks. These are Eschscholzia californica (orange) and Lupinus succulentus (purple).

Lighting the flowers

wildflowers, carizzo

(Image credit: Photo by Bob Wick, BLM)

Photo Tip: Photographing using side lighting and low-light angles really makes the terrain stand out. These yellow flowers are in the genus Monolopia, while the purple are in the genus Phacelia (most likely Monolopia lanceolata and Phacelia tanacetifolia).

Get down and groovy

wildflowers, carizzo

(Image credit: Photo by Bob Wick, BLM)

Photo Tip: Shooting flowers from "their level," by getting low and as close as possible, will ensure a more dynamic photo. The flowers are Lupinus albifrons in Carrizo Plain National Monument, California.

Vivid hues

wildflowers, carizzo

(Image credit: Photo by Bob Wick, BLM)

Yellow Monolopia lanceolata and purple Phacelia ciliata in Carizzo Plain National Monument.

Getting some perspective

wildflowers, carizzo

(Image credit: Photo by Bob Wick, BLM)

Photo Tip: Having people in the landscape adds scale. The flower is Phacelia ciliata.

Gorgeous shades

wildflowers, carizzo

(Image credit: Photo by Bob Wick, BLM)

Photo Tip: Use a small aperture (f/16 and below) to ensure a crisp focus from the closest flowers to the distant peaks. The flower is Phacelia ciliata.

Hide and seek

wildflowers, carizzo

(Image credit: Photo by Bob Wick, BLM)

If you can find it, purple owl's clover (Castilleja exserta) is a charismatic flower to photograph. 

Playing with shade

wildflowers, carizzo

(Image credit: Photo by Bob Wick, BLM)

Photo Tip: Shooting with the sun to the side or behind the flowers will highlight textures and bring out glowing colors. This flower is Leptosyne bigelovii.