One of the joys and frustrations of spending entire days photographing California native meadows, is the glorious sunshine – all day long. In the High Sierra mountains, the summer air is cool and the meadow buzz with vitality, while the flowers and grasses beckon to be photographed at every new step. It is thrilling to be a mountain meadow on a sunny day – unless you are trying to get good light for a photo.
The sun is so bright that it is difficult to create any separation to distinguish each plant. Lucky was I to be in a meadow with old tree stumps from a previous logging. This meadow, in the Eldorado National Forest, was once logged and is in transitional ecology until the new forest grows back. It is the way of meadows.
As soon as I saw a dark stump of a tree charred by fire I looked to use it as a background, and what do you know ? – a Giant Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) was nestled nearby.
To use the background effectively I needed to get low and shoot the Paintbrush in profile against the stump. I like the profile view as a way to illustrate the whole plant, and admit has the benefit of requiring the photographer to get down in the meadow, where I stayed, for more than a moment.