Saturday, February 28, 2009

Merced River Poppies

It's still winter in Yosemite, but spring has arrived at lower elevations. Poppies have exploded along the Merced River west of the park. They're blooming across the river from Highway 140 between Briceburg and the rock-slide detour. The largest, densest patches have sprouted in places burned by the Telegraph Fire last summer, although other poppies are starting to appear in the usual spots further east in the canyon.

I used a 200mm lens to make the image above on my way back from Yosemite this morning. Unfortunately there's no easy access to the poppies from 140, as they're all on the opposite side of the river, but it's possible to photograph them from near the road with long lenses.

The best light on Horsetail Fall is over. In early February the water flow in Horsetail was too low for good photographs. Later in the month the flow increased, but clouds blocked every sunset except one, on February 19th. Consider yourself lucky if you photographed it that day! There were many disappointed photographers in Yosemite this past month. The light on Horsetail in early March can be nice, with a golden glow late in the day, but it's not the neon orange light that everyone is after.

Water volume in all the Yosemite waterfalls is gradually increasing, and should continue to increase during March and April. A lot of snow has melted, although most of the valley floor is still snow-covered. The forecast is calling for a series of storms next week, which is good news, as we still need more rain and snow.


  1. I have to laugh, Michael; I just got a call in my room at Highland Court from a bus-driver friend of mine in Mariposa, with the news that the poppies are blooming from Briceburg to the oversize vehicle turn around on 140--and I'd just loaded this entry on my RSS feed reader.

    I'd considered heading down there this afternoon after cleaning bath cabins at Curry, but opted to do taxes instead.

    Let's hope the rain tomorrow doesn't knock them all down!


  2. Gorgeous shot Michael. It's a bit disorienting, looks like a combination image - one of poppies, one of a rock face. Definitely cool.

  3. The poppies should be around for awhile with the cool, rainy weather we're having, so you still have time Edie. And Dave, I'm glad you like the image. It was one of those occasions when it just seemed to compose itself.

  4. Really nice blog...I just may have to get on up to Yosemite this weekend to check out those poppies. Your photos are stunning!

  5. Michael, Thanks for the report. You're right too, perhaps the best poppy display I've ever seen. You may have seen me that Saturday - big guy w/vest, tall tripod shooting 4x5. I was shooting this same grouping of poppies on the hillside.

    I love the Merced river canyon. Thanks for posting.

  6. Thanks Parsec and Lon. I don't remember seeing you Lon, but I was there on Sunday. Anyway, I love the Merced River Canyon too! But then it's been in my backyard for 25 years. My friend Mike Osborne, who lives in El Portal, has photographed every nook and cranny of it, high water or low, flowers or not, and found wonderful stuff. It's a very photogenic canyon, but that place, what's it called... Yosemite!... seems to get all the attention.


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