Clearing rain storm with lupines and oaks, Redwood NP, CA, USA

Clearing rain storm with lupines and oaks, Redwood NP, CA; 11:44 a.m., 32mm 1/60th at f/16, ISO 400.

On our journey to far northern California last month, Claudia and I found some nice patches of lupines up in the hills away from the coast. Naturally I thought fog would add just the right touch to the lupines, but since the elevation was over 2,000 feet it would take a high fog bank or some low clouds to envelop this area in fog.

Luckily we got that high fog bank one morning. We drove up early, in case the sun broke through, but it stayed socked in for the first hour, with a light breeze moving the flowers and making photography challenging. Then the wind picked up and it started to drizzle. I heard a rumble. Could that be thunder? There were showers in the forecast that day. I heard another rumble: definitely thunder. That was a first for me – hearing thunder while wrapped in fog. It was kind of cool, but also a sign that I should retreat to the car.

Soon the drizzle turned into a deluge. It was still foggy, but impossible to photograph in the wind-driven downpour, so we decided to drive to a spot with cell reception so I could look at radar images online. Along the way we went through a construction zone, with flagmen standing stoically in their raincoats in the pounding rain. A tough day on the job.

When I did finally get into cell range I saw that the rain would probably let up soon, so we headed back to the lupines. It was still foggy there, and raining lightly, with the wind blowing rain right into my face, making it impossible to keep the front of my lens dry. So I scouted some compositions, then waited in the car, hoping for the rain to quit or the wind to die down. Preferably both.

The fog broke up from time to time, only to return. Finally it seemed like the rain was letting up, and the wind decreasing a little. I got out my camera, headed to one of the spots I’d scouted, and captured some foggy frames of lupines with oaks in the background. Just then the fog opened up, silhouetting the oaks against some distant, misty hillsides. I quickly snapped the photograph at the top of this post before the mist dissipated even more.

The fog came and went for awhile, and I spent another hour searching for compositions with lupines, oaks, and fog. Finally I had enough; I was tired and wet and hungry. But subject and weather had come together just as I had hoped. It was a great morning.

— Michael Frye

Lupine field in the fog, Redwood NP, CA, USA

Lupine field in the fog, Redwood NP, CA; 5:55 a.m., 31mm, 0.7 seconds at f/16, ISO 800.

Lupines at the edge of an oak woodland, Redwood NP, northern California, USA

Lupines at the edge of an oak woodland, Redwood NP, CA; 6:50 a.m., 28mm, 1/4 sec. at f/16, ISO 400.

Lupines and oaks in fog, Redwood NP, CA, USA

Lupines and oaks in fog, Redwood NP, CA; 11:54 a.m., 23mm, 1/60th sec. at f/16, ISO 400.

Related Posts: Chasing Fog; Lupines and Fog

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.