Sunday, June 2, 2013

Visiting the Fullerton Arboretum

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

We went to the Fullerton Arboretum on Saturday, June 1. I was underwhelmed by this so-called "Hidden Gem of Orange County."

The FA is hidden. It is tucked into a small wooded corner in the city of Fullerton bound by Yorba Linda Blvd, the 57 Expressway, Cal State Fullerton (CSF) dorms, and the CSF athletic fields (see map).  This location makes it a noisy spot. Indeed, we could hear and watch (through a rusty chain link fence) a baseball game going on at the CSF stadium and hear music being played over a public addess system somewhere.

Heritage House

Pavilion Area

The FA grounds are not as well groomed and manicured as one would expect from a botanical gardens-type place.  Standing water filled ruts in the dirt path, stray plants blocked exhibit plants, and the two ponds, though filled with turtles, were not very clear and looked stagnate.

Some of the flowers more exposed to the sun were colorful.

However, trees forming canopies over some of the walking paths made photography (w/o a flash) difficult without adjusting camera settings. 

Figs Hidden Under Tree Canopy
For example, we found a hawk sitting in a small creek under the tree canopy.  A series of ISO400 shots were blurry and unusable and an ISO640 shot with an f13 setting trying to maximize DOF came out completely underexposed.  However, with the magic of Adobe Lightroom, the 640/f13 image was resurrected from the dead to become a reasonably nice image.

ISO640/f13 Underexposed

ISO640/f13 Processed in Lightroom

You can rent out a pavilion at the FA for weddings etc.  One was being set up for as we left.  A woman in high-heels and blotting her face from sweat (it was a warm day) was making her way up the path.  When you are not protected under the tree canopies, it can be a real scorcher and if you are just dropping in, you wll probably not think to carry some water with you.  Luckily, there are a lot of benches under the trees and you will see people laying or sitting on the benches, maybe grabbing a quick bite to eat (please carry in/carry out).

Would I go back?  I might.  It's free admission and parking, so the possibility of catching a good view of a hawk or some turtles can be worth the local diversion.

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