When returning to well known places you are often greeted with something new. Goat Rock Beach, a California coast park, is a surefire photogenic place, but last weekend we encountered the additional floral splendor of fields of cow parsnip on top of all else. So what to do with so much cow parsnip? Closeups of cow parsnip in repose? Cows frolicking amidst their namesake parsnip? One must do one’s best.
Cow parsnip is a wildflower resembling Queen Anne’s Lace, at least at a distance. A closer look reveals a more rugged plant with broom handle stems and hefty clusters of flowers. Actually it is a noxious weed whose sap causes rash and blistering like poison ivy. It can grow to over six feet, and runners are warned to stay clear of the prickly stems. It’s over most of the U.S. Still, you can take photos of it, so it isn’t completely useless.
A good general plan for flower photos is to show where the flowers grow, the whole plant with stems and leaves, and closeups of the flowers. I took photos of the fields with a Nikon D80 is raw mode. White flowers in a field usually require under exposing by half a stop or more to preserve the detail, but raw mode provided enough extra latitude to cover the highlights. I took the closeups with a pocket camera, a Nikon P7000, exposing a half stop under.
Here is the scene with Goat Rock. It’s called Goat Rock because settlers kept goats on top to keep them from wandering away.
An enlarged version is here. There was light rain a few minutes before I took the picture. I did the usual tweaking in Photoshop Elements 8 to recover the detail in the clouds and punch up the foreground.
Next, the profile shot showing the stems and leaves, and also the growth in hilly fields. It’s enlarged here. Notice the blue iris in the foreground, visible in the enlarged image.
Finally, the closeup. I had to walk a little ways down a narrow trail, and a pocket camera was easier to maneuver for the close image. It’s enlarged here.