Arts & Culture

Behind the Lens: Beautiful Central Valley Photography

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Editor’s Note: If you’re on Instagram, you know there are a lot of different ways people utilize its platform: to show off their kids, cars, and muscles during or after a workout. Still, there are some who are more traditional, those who use it for the true art of photography. One such person we stumbled upon is Leanne Miller, who uses it to capture the Central Valley’s beautiful sunset landscape.

I began photographing the valley in the evenings after work to kick back and relax. When I go out to shoot, I watch for subtle details that are easily overlooked. I like to find the serene, beautiful side of the natural world. I always look for new opportunities along roadsides and ditches, canals, and farms in the beautiful Central Valley:

Almond and fruit orchards that explode into bloom each spring. Honey bees that busily check each blossom. Ripening strawberries and vegetable fields. Tiny rows of corn emerging from moist soil. Horses as they graze around irrigation water winding through a pasture. Dairy cows enjoying their evening feed and looking up to watch me. Farm crops and wildflowers that are unique to each season. Water as it rushes out into fields and trees. Corn stretching upward following irrigation. The wind bending stalks of wheat or grass. Hay windrows ready for baling. Fruit coloring before picking. Grapes ripening on the vine in the summer heat. Tractors and farm tools stopped for the evening. Well preserved early farm buildings and lone palm trees where farm families once lived. Welcoming rural driveways and rows of country mailboxes.

Cow with a bright idea.

Cow with a bright idea.

“Dairy cows enjoying their evening feed and looking up to watch me.”

There isn’t anything quite like a Central Valley Sunset! I’m especially drawn to documenting the “golden hour,” the time right before the sun dips below the western horizon, painting the valley and western range in hues of pink, orange, indigo, rich blue and blue green. The “light pillars” and sun “rays” that are uniquely frequent in this valley always thrill me. I’m happiest when I’m: Discovering reflections of the vivid sky and jet trails in the water of canals. Finding the last rays of sun shining through spider webs or back lighting leaf edges, weeds and wildflower blossoms. Viewing barns in light and shadow, or silhouetted against a brilliant evening sky. Capturing the sunset through gates, old fences or along inviting country lanes. This for me is life in the awesome Central Valley.

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Leanne Miller

Leanne grew up on a farm in rural Indiana where she enjoyed being outdoors in the changing seasons and learned to appreciate the large and small details of the natural world. She would later begin experimenting with digital photography to capture the tranquil rural beauty that caught her interest. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Communication Design in 2010, and graduated Summa Cum Laude with honors in Art + Design from Anderson University, Anderson, Indiana. While at Anderson University she explored the various aspects of film and digital photography. She's been in the design field since 2010, and served as a designer for The Indianapolis Art Center, Indianapolis, Indiana. Currently, she's a freelance designer and photographer in California's Central Valley. Leanne feels most comfortable in her boots and behind the lens of a camera. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, culinary arts, reading, studying history, and coffee shops.