Daffodil Hill adds color to the Gold Country and draws crowds of visitors from near and far. More than 300,000 daffodils inhabit the small privately owned ranch that opens to the public each spring. People come here to enjoy the weather while flower-gazing and picnicking. Volunteers maintain the grounds and oversee visitors.
How to get there
From Highway 88 take Pine Grove Volcano Road. Drive through the city of Volcano and take Rams Horn Grade out of the city. It is impossible to miss, just follow the main street as it changes names. Drive to the end of Rams Horn Grade at the intersection with Snake Ridge Road where you will find the Daffodil Hill parking lot.
How to photograph Daffodil Hill
On my visit, flower-gazing visitors had invaded the hill in their hundreds. This made scenic photography nearly impossible.
I chose a wide-angle lens for the photograph at the top of the article. Getting a low point of view, I emphasized the foreground. Wide-angle lenses distort the perspective between near and far objects. The people in the shot and the shed were only about 15 feet (5m) from my position. With this trick, I moved everyone into the distance.
You can also choose to include people in your photographs by making them the primary subject of your photos. Make sure you can isolate them against busy backgrounds. One way to do this is to shoot from far away while using a telephoto lens. Place the person against a flowery hill and frame tightly.
If you want to photograph a flower field without people, you can also apply some Photoshop magic. Set your camera on a tripod, compose and keep shooting a new picture every 30 seconds until you are confident that everyone has moved enough to reveal the background at least once. Layer all those photographs, and use layer masks to remove people from your photograph by simply selecting another picture for an area of the photo. Some software programs like Photoshop Extended or Photo Acute Studio can do this automatically, but you need to pay attention to the flowers, which might move in the wind.
If you are a macro shooter, you probably do not even mind all those people. This is heaven for you. You can find many different varieties of daffodil here in different colors and sizes. One of the most powerful images consists of three flowers that form a triangle. It generates tension in your photographs as it collides with the rectangular frame of your picture.
With the sun in front of you, the flowers become almost translucent. While most advocate soft light on overcast days, you do not control the weather and you cannot access the grounds during the golden hour. Use the sunrays instead to create dramatic pictures. The blossoms on the two trees (see first picture) shine bright red in the sun and make excellent macro subjects as well.
If you love detail shots of old barns and farm equipment you will find many subjects worthwhile your attention as farming relics litter the grounds. If you add a horse, peacock and a bunch of pigeons, you know what draws all those families with small children.
On your way to Daffodil Hill, you will pass through the romantic town of Volcano.
Best Time of the Day and Best Season
Daffodil Hill is open between 10am and 4pm from mid March to mid April. Go to their website (see resources) to research the best time. I visited during the early afternoon hours, which meant I had to photograph almost against the sun for the picture at the start of the article. One nice effect is that all the flowers are pointing into the picture as they lean toward the sun.
You should be among the first people in the morning if you want to avoid the crowds and have better light for scenic shots. Avoid the weekends if you can.
I spent about one hour on the hill. If you love flowers or if the animals appeal to your children, you will need longer. The large rest area next to the hill is very inviting. You can spend the whole afternoon here. Bring a picnic basket and some drinks!
- Wide-angle lens
- Macro lens
- Tripod and remote
- Polarizing Filter
- Picnic basket and utensils
There is no entrance fee or parking fee but your donations are gladly accepted.
The crowds make it very hard to create compelling photographs. If you have a professional interest in shooting daffodils, you should arrange a private hour before or after the public opening.
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