Exploring the trails of Malibu Creek State Park in southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains on a very cold December morning, I came across Century Lake looking like a mirror reflecting the sky and surrounding landscape. With only the faintest breath of wind to stir the surface, the reflection was virtually perfect. The hills were cloaked in their typical olive green coastal sage scrub vegetation but the trees, bushes and reeds near the waterline were showing the golden colors of fall and winter in southern California.
I know that those of you who have never spent time in southern California think of it as a place of constantly warm temperatures and very little seasonal variation, but in fact our vegetation does go through changes, although not as spectacular as other parts of the world.
And I’m sure that my description of a very cold morning may make many think that I’m talking about temperatures maybe as low as 55°F (13 C), but that morning I found frozen puddles along the trails, and the thermometer was reading 24°F (-4 C), so it was a legitimately cold morning, by anyone’s standards.
Century Lake covers 7 acres (2.8 ha) and is artificial, having been created in 1903 when the owners of the land at that time installed a dam on Malibu Creek. It has been used as a movie set for many films, including the original Planet of the Apes in 1968. But in spite of its use by Hollywood, it remains one of the most beautiful settings in the Santa Monica Mountains.
This photo was taken with a Canon EF17-40 mm f/4.0 lens zoomed to 40 mm on a Canon EOS 10D. The exposure was set to 1/350 sec. at f/11 and ISO 200.