The Anza-Borrego desert in California is in the midst of a superbloom wildflower display.

California native plant desert garden landscape, Anza Borrego State Park

Just what sort of special gear does a photographer pack for a once in a lifetime trip ?  Well for sure, I pack extra batteries since I am camping and there is no electricity to recharge.  I pack kneepads since I know I will be kneeling down to get to eye level with the flowers.

Eriophyllum wallacei var. wallacei – Wallace’s Woolly Daisy, yellow flowering wildflower; California native plant Anza Borrego State Park, superbloom 2017

I even packed an extra tripod, having had one break during a photo shoot last year.  I had never had a tripod actually break, but I sure was not going to risk it again.  How could I possibly do a moonlight shot with a 30 second exposure ?

Moonrise over desert landscpe with cactus, California native plant Anza Borrego State Park

But the most important reason to use a tripod is not for the long camera exposures, the sharp photos from a steady camera, and great depth of field.  The tripod is a fundamental tool for composition.

I invariably compose a photo through the viewfinder, carefully studying the shapes and balance to get a full image.

Desert landscape during superbloom 2017 with Ocotillo and Chuparosa, Yaqui Meadow, Anza Borrego State Park

While I was certainly drawn to the desert to see the wildflowers I was more interested in seeing the shrubs and perennials to get useful, naturalistic ideas for gardening in dry climates.  The Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) with its multistem branches are as photogenic as any herbaceous shrub, and there next to a flowering Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus) is a great desert garden, a RealDesertGarden.

Until I studied my first exposure in the digital display, I did not realize my careful composition included my car, parked by the dirt road a few hundred feet away.

Fortunately I could move my tripod a couple inches, get a new point of view, and still have a strong composition, letting the cactus hide the car.

Before and After Slider

So now the remote desert vista illusion is intact – I did hiked for many miles to find this view.

Gallery of photos to view and license – Anza Borrego