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David J Grenier Fine Art Photography

Gold in the American River, Coloma

Triple digit heat is headed to El Dorado Hills, where I live, over the next several days! Never been a fan of air conditioning (pun intended), an unfortunate necessity in these temperatures, so last night I headed off to one of my favorite spots on the America River in Coloma to cool off and shoot some images. Just in case you are not familiar with this part of the world, on January 24, 1848, an event occurred in Coloma that would radically impact the history of California and the Nation. James W. Marshall was building a sawmill for Captain John Sutter, using water from the South Fork of the American River. He noticed several flakes of metal in the tailrace water and recognized them to be gold. Though he tried to keep it a secret, the word spread quickly, and triggered the California Gold Rush of 1849.

There are a couple of spots I like to photograph at the river in Coloma, both of them are within a few hundred yards from the actual spot where James Marshall first noticed the gold flakes in the water. The best times to shoot down here is at sunset, where on a hot, clear sunny day, if you look closely you will find gold reflections dancing on the water among the rapids! The irony of the 'gold' in the river does not escape me and makes me think of what must have been exciting, pioneering days ever so long ago

I had never seen this phenomena on a river until I accidentally stumbled upon this lighting a few years ago at the Troublemaker rapids of the South Fork of the American River in Coloma. I find it just beautiful to have these gold reflections of the sun dancing around in the turquoise water among the rapids of the flowing river. It makes for some beautiful images when I can add some of the rocks or green vegetation along the banks, juxtaposed with the magical colors in the river.

Here are a couple of the images from last night.

Enjoy!

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