William Lawson Photography

River canyons. Desert overlooks. Mountains above the clouds. Rolling hills. Small pockets of fall color. Spring wildflowers every few years. An occasional summer thunderstorm. This large area between the San Diego coast and desert is under visited and under appreciated, and that's also part of the appeal.

Laguna Fall Above 1

Change of Perspective | An aerial view of a west facing slope of trees catching sunset light. Mount Laguna. It was breezy. I knew the drone wouldn't be happy and the remote was screaming. To be fair the remote screams when the battery has six minutes left and the drone is less than one minute away. Total flight time was maybe 2 minutes. I took several shots. Only this one was sharp.

Laguna Fall Above 2

Glowing | Sunset light on a west facing slope. Mount Laguna. One year after the picture above this one. When something works I try it again. Sometimes it seems like a good idea. Sometimes it seems to come at the expense of seeing new things.

Laguna Summer Storm 1

Summer Storm 1 | Rain showers over the local mountains and desert.

Laguna Summer Storm 2

Summer Storm 2 | Rain showers over the local mountains and desert. This sunset was wild. I had a hard time narrowing it down to the best couple photographs.


Double Rainbow | Not an everyday sight in San Diego. A double rainbow briefly appears above the San Diego River Gorge.


Shining Through | Sunlight breaks through an overcast day and lights up the San Diego River Gorge. Conditions didn't look promising for most of the hour and a half drive through rain and fog to the trailhead. But right around the time we started hiking we could see small breaks in the clouds. And then around the time we reached Eagle Peak the sky started to open up.


Fleeting View | The sun breaks through clouds on a beautiful spring day. San Diego River Gorge near Ramona.


Above the Fog | Sunset above the fog on Palomar Mountain. Don't know if others consider this an iconic San Diego scene. But I do.


Edge | South facing slopes of Palomar Mountain rising just above the clouds.


Fog Line | A ridge of trees disappears into fog. Palomar Mountain. Wish I had taken a time lapse of this to capture the fog level rising and falling during the hour or so we were here.


Endless | A long exposure (technically 3 consecutive exposures overlayed) of a ridgeline just above sunset clouds. Palmoar Mountain.


Eagle's View | An aerial view of Eagle Peak and the Cuyamaca Mountains. I had looked at this peak many times from the Ramona side of the San Diego River Gorge. But this was the first time on this side. A fun adventure with my wife and son. Followed by a dark hike back to the car.


Soaring | Birds soar in the wind above Boulder Creek. I was not paying attention and was surprised by the birds. Immediately after this shot I opened up 1 stop and increased ISO 1 stop so my shutter speed would be 4X faster. But the birds didn't come back in such a perfect formation. So this is the best of the series despite the slight motion blur of the birds.


The River Gorge | An aerial view of the convergence of a creek with the San Diego River. Completely alone out here on a wet day.


Rain at the Gorge | A little window in the clouds lights up the east side of the San Diego River Gorge and a passing rain shower.


Spotlights | One of my favorite things when sunlight breaks through a cloudy day. Cleveland National Forest near Ramona.


Mountain Light | Little bit of sunset light. Eagle Peak in shadow above.


Skyline | The Ramona Skyline viewed from Eagle Peak.


Ribbon of Light | Cows in the Santa Maria Valley. Sprinklers were a bonus.


Grasslands Trail | A favorite local spot for a walk or run. Except for the cows. I don't trust cows, and they don't seem to trust me.


Lined Up | These trees are on the way to "more interesting" trees. I've passed by them numerous times. Never really noticed them. But fog changes things - makes less interesting things more interesting. The fog was moving fast through this valley. So, I stood here for several minutes watching and photographing the fog pass between these foreground trees and the distant hillside. It's usually difficult to tell at the time what will look best. But this frame stood out as having just the right amount of fog to separate the foreground trees from the hillside while still showing a little bit of that distant hillside.


Disappearing | A very foggy day on Palomar Mountain. Several miles of the drive here were scary. The hiking was magic. Although it's not much of a hike to get to these trees.


Superbloom I | A beautiful Southern California wildflower display. Right off I-15 in Riverside County.


Superbloom II | A beautiful Southern California wildflower display.


Superbloom III | An uncommon display of local color just minutes from Interstate 15. This wasn't very far up the trail. I've seen dozens of near identical photographs. Still beautiful. Glad I went when I did because the city closed down the trail the next time we had a superbloom.


Superbloom IV | A beautiful Southern California wildflower display.


Grasslands Trail | Some great clouds and great shadows. I think it's cool that some people are really good at black and white photography. For me it's more like: this isn't working in color, so...


Grasslands Trail | Repeat visit :)


Backcountry Rainbow | One of my favorite places in San Diego. I had finished hiking nearby and decided to make the very short drive over to this popular trailhead. As I neared the parking area I looked left and saw a vibrant rainbow. I quickly parked, grabbed my camera and took off running down the wet trail. It's about half a mile to this spot where the view opens up. The rainbow had faded some. But still an incredible sight. And I'm probably lucky I didn't pull a hamstring or have a slip and fall on the way down.


Break Through | Sunlight breaks through an overcast day and lights up the San Diego River Gorge.


Spring Show | The spring dogwood bloom on Palomar Mountain. I know these trees grow like weeds in other parts of the country. But they are rare here and I've taken hundreds of mostly terrible photos of them trying to capture their beauty.

Laguna Fall Leaves 1

The Season Change | Three oak leaves changing color. Mount Laguna.

Laguna Fall Leaves 3

Season's End | A small cluster of oak leaves catching the last light shining through the forest.


Fall Colors | Palomar Mountain. No seasons in San Diego.


Last Light | Always looking for those trees that get last light. Palomar Mountain.


Sun Seekers | A ridge of trees just above the fog catching sunset light. Palomar Mountain.


Summer Sunset | Ramona. Photographic evidence that I've been here more times than I care to admit coming up...


Sunset Strip | Ramona.


Sunset Strip | Ramona. I love this picture, except... I was there. I took it. And I know it doesn't capture how crazy this sunset was.


Light Show | Standing in the middle of the road, in the rain, taking pictures.


Countdown | Ramona. Right before the lightning started.


Sunrise Highway Rainbow | Wild end of the day in the local mountains. Another straight road and interesting sky. But somewhere different for a change.


Break in the Horizon | A little big of sunset light finds it's way to this semi-secret valley near Ramona.


Break in the Horizon | Two years later. Plus or minus a few days.


Santa Maria Valley | A straight road with the Santa Maria Valley grasslands on either side. Ramona.


Sunset Strip | Ramona.