Season’s First Rain at Russian Ridge

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The hillsides of Russian Ridge Open Space, California, glisten gold in the dusk sun.
This scene won't last long, as the coming rains will soon turn the grass from gold to green.

This photograph from one of my favorite places: Ancient Oaks trail in Russian Ridge Open Space. It's nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. In early winter, before the rains have turned the hillsides lush and green, there is a month or two when the golden cloud-filled skies (absent in summer) overlap with the dry golden grass. The resulting landscape can be painfully beautiful – roughly monochromatic in color, but full of power and bent on change. For this photo, I arrived in late afternoon, planning on shooting sunset. However, I had to scramble quickly once I realized that the most beautiful scenes would be well before sunset, when the sun was behind the cloud cover, thus filling the sky with drama, and casting a diffuse golden glow on the foreground.

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