California is one of the most starkly diverse landscapes on the planet, and a photographer doesn’t have to travel far to find nearly anything they care to shoot.
In the north you can find temperate rainforest hosting the tallest trees in the world, The Coastal Redwood, while in the southeast lies some of the world’s driest inhospitable but beautiful deserts hope of the odd looking Joshua Tree. In the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains you will find the tallest mountain in the lower forty eight states, where from the top you can see the lowest point in North America in Death Valley. The coasts of the golden state are home to some of the most famous beaches in the world, and between them steep and rugged rocky shores. Although California is our most populated state, it also has many photographic gem destinations.
Within three hours of nearly any beach, you can be ascending a winding road to a granite peak with a cool alpine climate. The Range of Light, the Sierra Nevada Range is the highest and longest mountain range in the contiguous United States. The stunning coastline runs the gamut from miles of beaches to precipitous cliffs that would seem to give a condor pause.
The Mojave Desert might seem an unlikely place to see blooms of wildflowers. It takes a perfect combination of conditions, for wildflowers to bloom in the desert, and it doesn't happen every year. The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve located in the desert's western tip, explodes into a sea of orange poppies. It's the largest and most dependable bloom of the species. It also blooms with photographers during this time.
The Mediterranean climate of the grassy, rolling, oak studded hills from Santa Barbara to Sonoma County have evolved from their natural splendor to some of the most beautiful developed land in the world as vineyards grow up beneath the oaks.
Of the USA’s 59 national parks, nine of them can be found here. Some famous like Yosemite and Sequoia National Park, but also the barely known like Pinnacles National Park. It also has well as over 250 state parks, recreation areas, reserves, and historic sites.
Did I mention the cities? Of course not, I avoid them like the plague. I moved out of California because of all its exponentially growing cities where the nuts are killing off the almonds because they use too much water.
Having spent more than my share of time in crowded southern California I prefer to photograph San Luis Obispo’s central coast from Pismo Beach north when the ocean calls. Big Sur will always be near the top of my favorite places. Although the mountains of the Los Angeles, Cleveland, and San Bernardino National Forests are splendid, I prefer to do my mountain photography in the High Sierra.
It’s an entire continent’s worth of stunning landscapes in a single state. With so much wonderful landscape, it is a shame that so many international visitors go only to the cities. On second though, the cities are a good place for them.