If you live in this area , chances are that you have come across one of my photos of Vacaville’s Lagoon Valley Park in a local magazine, news outlet or add. That’s because my images of that place have been licensed for a number of usages in the past four years. Vacaville is a small, thriving community with lots going on.
On January 8, 2022, I visited the park again. I took a few photos, and decided to make a blog post introducing the park to those who might live around, or those who happen to be passing by. I will only show a couple of photos because I want you to go to the park and find your own compositions…
The Park can be seen from the I-80 corridor between Sacramento and the Bay Area. The exit to the entrance of the Park is the Penha Adobe Road exit on I-80. In the featured photo, the highway is on the right hand side of the frame, and is mostly out of it. The photo is facing west.
Photographers do have a tendency to pass on the beautiful places they have nearby in favor of farther away iconic destinations. I participate in a number of local photography groups and I never see an outing planned to this local park.
I tend to go in the winter and in the spring, when there is potential for fog and the grass is green. It is a 20-min drive for me. There are quite a few spots for photography in the parks’ grounds, usually involving an oak tree on top of a hill. This means that you need to walk uphill, at least some, for the more exciting compositions. The trails can be used as leading lines.
There is also a small lagoon with ducks, if you are into this kind of photography or want to stay at sea level.
When there is fog in the park, more possibilities open up for oak-inspired photography and leading lines. See my previous post where I show a photograph taken in the fog. The photo below, I took in in the same place as the above photo, just a little closer to the tree, and without the fog.
Although there is often enough light in the park and a tripod may not be necessary, I always carry one just in case. A wide angle (24-50mm) on a full frame is often a good choice. If you have graduated filters, they might be useful when the sky is included. I must confess that I have not used them in this park.
There is a small redwoods grove and in the winter sometimes there are some mushrooms there. In the spring, there are wildflowers popping here and there. I usually find it hard to do macrophotography in this park because the wind is often a little on the fast side. If you want to try that, take a macro lens as well.
The Lagoon Valley Park is an interesting place for local photography, mostly between the fall and the spring. Photographers can get the double benefit of endurance training and photographic opportunities when trying to hollow equipment up the hills. Its best to go on an overcast day, foggy day or when the light is at an angle, early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
How about you? Are there any parks nearby where you live that you think are underappreciated by your fellow photogs?
23 thoughts on “Photography opportunities at the Lagoon Valley Park in Vacaville (California, USA)”
Beautiful work Alessandra.
Mission Trails San Diego is where I frequent. It is close and I’ve been making pieces there since 2007.
Thank you. It does pay off to frequent a place.
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I’d gladly visit Lagoon Valley Park if I lived a lot closer than the 1778 miles that Google Maps tells me I live from Cowtown, i.e. Vacaville.
While looking at the map, I noticed Putah Creek State Wildlife Area a little northwest of Lagoon Valley. Have you worked in that wildlife area as well?
In answer to your closing question, yes, there are many places in the Austin area that photographers don’t appreciate enough, sometimes because they don’t know about them at all.
Lol, that’s what the name means! Sacramento, by the way, is often referred to as cow town 😂. There are numerous access points to the Putah Creek (it’s hard for me to write this name down since it sounds like a bad word in Portuguese), mostly dedicated to extracting money from those who want to fish, but the portion that belongs to uc davis is still free to park. A 4 mile trail along the creek, nice but very disturbed vegetation with lots of poison oak, eucalyptus and invasive weeds. I seldom take the camera there but any place can yield an interesting photograph if the photographer puts some effort in it.
Despite so much alien vegetation, I agree with your last sentence.
I’d also thought about the resemblance of Putah to the similar word in Spanish and Portuguese. The -h at the end of Putah, though silent now in the English pronunciation, probably represented a guttural sound in whatever indigenous language the word came from.
Though I’ve never been to Sacramento (and didn’t know people refer to it as cow town), the brand of canned tomato juice I grew up with in New York was Sacramento, presumably because the tomatoes came from near there in California.
One interesting sighting in this region, in the end of summer, is the tomato trucks on the highway. They are often overloaded and spill tomatoes left and right on the roads.
You are certainly surrounded by paradise. Honestly I’d much rather see the original beauty you capture in your less traveled locations than to see yet another photo of something that has already been photographed a thousand times over. Yawn… I wished I lived closer as I’d be right there just to digest all you have accomplished and of course inhale the view. Beautiful ❤
Thanks. Well, it’s a nice little park. Anytime, come over I’ll and be happy to drive you around!
I must confess that I cannot stand seeing one more photo of the half dome from the Merced River, but to a lot of photographers who come to Yosemite for the first time it’s hard to resist, and to post!
Two fine pictures and I oppose your decision to only show a few. 🙂 I am even farther away than Steve S. so won’t likely be driving by. I almost moved to the Vacaville vicinity about 50 years ago when I was invited to Chico by a co-worker at Diamond Match in Springfield, MA who was being transferred there and lined me up for a job. My brother had something similar at a different company offered to him some years earlier and upon arriving found out that said job did not exist. He did alright though and eventually became a CPA. I declined to go and am happy with my life here. That said, I would love to see more of your shots from the Lagoon and elsewhere.
I think that not coming to Chico is a good decision for most people. Odd what happened to your brother! Looks like a scam! I might go back to the Lagoon Valley Park sometime in the spring to investigate the wildflower situation.
Not a scam, but a well-meaning friend who thought he had more power for hiring than he actually did. Unfortunate but my brother apparently adapted well. 🙂 When invited I had no idea of anything about Chico.
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What a lovely spot. So many California places like Lagoon Valley Park are revelations to me, even though I was in the area for some time. For a year, I traveled from Berkeley to Rio Vista every weekend. If I’d been interested in nature, and if I’d had a camera, I surely would have visited. It would have been an easy detour.
I have not been to the Rio Vista area for photography. It’s a little far for me and traffic is bad most days. I’m quite sure traffic has become much worse since you lived in California.
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It is a beautiful area! I am not surprised that your photos are featured in magazines etc.
Vacaville businesses like to promote the town and its beauty. Very active community.
The top photo is quite classic. Very beautiful.
Not sure what you mean (or intend?) when you say “disturbed vegetation,” along the trail but it sounds intriguing except for the poison oak, and I’d be sure you’d find worthwhile stuff if you had your camera, even if not what you might be looking for. If you feel the need for a tripod you might explore a really lightweight one that could also serve as a monopod.
In ecology we use the term “Disturbed vegetation” to refer to “ areas, particularly within wetland and riparian buffers, where native vegetation has been and continues to be disturbed as part of a legally established recreational or residential development, including associated site improvements, or prior agricultural use, resulting in vegetated area that provides minimal habitat function or value. “ thanks for stopping by and for the suggestions.