Hiking + Wildflowers - suzannechristine


Places to see and photograph wildflowers in the SF Bay Area. Tips for improving your iPhone nature photography.

Tips for Taking + Making Better Nature Photographs with your iPhone:

1. Move your feet -- your feet are better than the zoom on your iPhone camera.  Move in closer, back-up. Change positions/angles.  Use the smallness of the iPhone to take photos from unique perspectives.

2. For macro (close-up) images of flowers/plants in bright sunlight -- try shading the object/flower with your body.  The iPhone generally responds better in even lighting, versus direct, bright sunlight.

3. Use HDR mode on your iPhone for scenery with mixed shadows and highlights.  It's best to find scenes that have even lighting, but if your scene has a lot of bright sunlight and shadows (especially for landscapes) -- use the HDR mode.

4. By pressing (and holding) on the iPhone screen (in photo mode) you can adjust the exposure and focus points.

5.  Look for interesting patterns, details in flowers, plants and grasses as well as light and shadow.  While our eyes are normally drawn to the light -- look for patterns that emerge from "negative space" or darker areas.

6. Turn your smart-phone to airplane mode to emerge yourself in your hiking experience and to avoid being distracted by texts/calls. Use the time outdoors to replenish yourself.

7. Use a post-processing software such as SnapSeed to adjust color, shadows and exposure. 

8.  Take time to breathe in nature and absorb the landscape before photographing it.  Science has proven that nature literally changes our body chemistry and how our brain functions.  Taking a few minutes to "soak-up" nature will help you see things that may go unnoticed with a busy mind.  Check out this great article on National Geographic's Website: This is Your Brain on Nature.

Easy Hikes / Great Places to see Wildflowers in the Bay Area

The SF Bay is positively radiating with wildflowers! If you are interested in seeing some fantastic wildflower displays, here are my top picks. Each area is easy to access and hike -- making it great for kids too! If you bring them along be sure to bring a magnifying glass for them!

Ring Mountain Preserve, Corte Madera - this small, but beautiful open space is home to some of the rarest wildflowers in the Country. For an easy walk, park at the top of Taylor Road (located off Paradise Drive) and begin hiking in any direction.

Rock Springs Area, Mount Tam - From this parking lot -- begin your exploration in any direction. Wild orchids can be seen in shaded areas near pines. The trail to Cataract Falls is still running with lots of water and makes for a relaxing place to rest.

Loma Alta Open Space Preserve, Fairfax -- Numerous options for accessing this wonderful open space abound! Park at the top of Oak Manor drive, choose either a short steep ascent to the labyrinth and views, or follow a less used trail through the woods. Either option yields great flower displays.

Point Reyes National Seashore , Inverness -- Endless opportunites for wildlife and wildflower viewing. The park’s champion flower walk is the 1.4-mile, bluff-top Chimney Rock Trail; Abbott's Lagoon is a special spot with a family of river otters that have taken up residence this spring.

Sunol Regional Wilderness, Sunol -- known for it's Wildflower Festival in Early Spring, this East Bay gem offers a delightful variety of hiking trails. Indian Joe Creek Trail is an easy, flat trail.

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