Central Valley native Jeffrey Murray has spent most of his life looking through the lens of his camera, training his artistic eye to capture stunning visuals of the rustic world around him. After obtaining a degree in photography, and working as a photojournalist for two different papers in Arizona, Murray grew tired of being chained by the constraints of the workplace, and decided to forge his own path amongst the wildflowers.
“I’ve always enjoyed the highway life,” Murray said. He and his wife Allison, along with their basset hound Arlo, took to the highway in search of lush landscapes with rolling fields of green. “When you see the sun setting out over hills, and the large field of flowers, there is just something about it. It is the truest sense of freedom.”
Murray was able to document his freedom in his landscape photography book, “Journey of Light –Adventures of a Landscape Photographer,” in March of 2010. The images consist of vibrant stills from America’s western region, and incorporate local features within California.
As a former resident of Long Barn in Tuolumne County, Murray holds many sacred spots in mind when garnering inspiration for wildflowers, most prominently Jamestown, Willes Road off of Knights Ferry, and even Table Mountain.
“My favorite area to photograph in Stanislaus County is a secret place on top of Table Mountain. I have to hike up to the top of a plateau, and once you get to the top, the whole field is covered in wildflowers; just a pure blanket of different colors,” said Murray. “It is amazing to see vernal pool flowers, and see them waving in the wind.”
His favorite flower is the California poppy, a common flower found in grassy open areas primarily from February to September. Other common flowers are the blue and white Lupines, yellow California buttercups, white milkmaids, and columbines.
Though Murray admits that he does not possess the scientific or biological knowledge of these plants, he knows when and how to find them.
“I’ve spent the last few years searching for the perfect scenery,” he said. “There are really great hotspots, but every year it is different. That is the greatest thing about the Central Valley and the Foothills, it depends on the year, the rainfall, the pools, everything. You may find nothing out in the open, but you may find flowers right in the middle of town.”
According to Murray, wildflowers will become more prevalent within the next couple weeks, and are sure to dominate open grassy fields within the Central Valley and Foothills, primarily around Highway 99.
As an avid traveler, Murray rejoices in his decision to leave societal standards behind. He has traveled throughout the United States for five years and has visited 46 states in the process.
His traveling experiences have taught him to take nothing for granted, especially the environment or the change of seasons. He describes how flowers are an essence of joy, but often overlooked due to societal constraints.
“Go out and enjoy them while they are there,” Murray advised. “Pick them up, put them in your hair, make necklaces, smell them and put them in a vase at home. People mistake this for ruining them, but they are there for us to see and experience.”
To purchase “Journey of Light,” visit http://www.jeffreymurrayphotography.com/
— BROOKE BORBA
209 staff reporter