Posts Tagged ‘redwoods’

Touch the Sky

February 6th, 2018


How many times have you seen a photograph of tall trees taken with the camera pointing straight up and the trees converging high in the sky? It’s a pretty common shot. Standing in a grove, turning your eyes upward and wondering at the enormity of these living things, putting camera to eye and pressing the shutter is compelling.

But, to paraphrase Minor White, one of the great pioneers of fine art photography, it’s important to get into the habit of seeing ‘what else is there.’ And one way to find the ‘something else’ is to say to yourself, ‘OK, let’s do something craaaazy!”

I mounted my widest lens on my camera, got my tripod as low as it would go and laid down in the dirt to compose this image. People looked at me like I was craaaazy – which I was. I wanted to capture this incredible tree from ground to crown. There were a few technical details to work out like depth of field and exposure (there always are technical details with digital photography) but the main thing was to capture as much of this tree as I possibly could, so I could share with you the wonder I was feeling.

And a very close second was to let my inner child out and lay in the dirt, gazing into the upper reaches of this towering marvel.

Notice how the tree comes out of the bottom left corner and stretches to the right on a slight diagonal. That was intentional because that little angle changes this image from something static to a much more interesting one that is dynamic, alive. A simple, yet powerful technique.

You can do this yourself. Here are a couple of tips. When you see something you want to photograph, shoot it the way you normally would. But then, get crazy. Let yourself go and play with other ways of viewing your subject. You don’t have to get in the dirt if you don’t want to…, but I highly recommend it.

Also, be aware of diagonal lines in your image. They add motion and energy and make the photograph more interesting.

And finally, fill the frame with your subject. Don’t be afraid to move in closer or, if you have a zoom lens, zoom in tight. Like this tree, make your subject the dominant element in your photograph.

Oh, and don’t forget the experience itself. Bringing home a nice photograph, a keeper, is rewarding but that does not outshine the thrill of being there among these tall giants. It is a time to grow quiet and let Mother Nature speak to you in her soft, still voice.

By the way, this tree is in the Lady Bird Johnson grove at Prairie Creek State Park in Northern California. The tree stands in a small clearing where Lady Bird, Richard Nixon and other dignitaries stood when the grove was dedicated to her. There’s a nice bronze plaque commemorating the moment. Makes it kind of special.

Join me to photograph Redwoods National and State Parks in May from the 21st to the 24th. It’s the perfect time to be there.  For more information, click here.


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In a Redwood Grove

May 6th, 2016



Even high up on the mountainside the parking lot is shrouded in the utter quite of the fog. I am alone. I set out, relishing the solitude. The crowns of the towering giants fade away into the mist. The fog condenses on the leaves and drops to the forest floor with barely perceptible random taps.

I continue along the trail, breathing in the moist air, breathing in the quite, breathing in the majesty that surrounds me. It is enough. And yet, there’s more.

The clouds begin to part, granting beams of sunlight passage into the cool, shadowed grove. My heart fills with joy, my eyes with wonder. And I have the presence of mind to bring it home to share.


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The Best of the 2014 Redwoods Photographs

April 26th, 2015

Well, you have done it. You have spoken and selected the best of my Redwoods photographs from 2014. I chose my eight favorite photographs from trips to the magnificent redwood groves of Northern California and offered them to you for your consideration.

It was exciting to watch the results come in. At one point there was a tie for 1st and 2nd, another tie for 3rd and 4th and, believe it or not, a tie for 5th and 6th, all at the same time. But eventually, with your help, it all got sorted out.

So here are the results.

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Mastering Composition – Border Patrol

December 30th, 2013

“When I compose an image I spend more time getting the borders right than I spend on the subject.”  You think this is a surprising statement?  There are a lot of photographers that I really admire for whom this statement is true.  I know when I first started out I had no idea what was happening on the borders.  I paid no attention to them.  Until it was pointed out to me that my borders were very sloppy.  And from that point on composition got a whole lot harder because getting clean borders is not a trivial task.  But over time it became second nature to me.  Now I always check the borders and make appropriate adjustments before I press the shutter.

Well, almost always.  Take a look….

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Why I Love Big Sur

September 9th, 2012

There are some places you have to see to believe, experience to begin to understand – Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls,…  Photographs don’t begin to capture the feelings you have.  Big Sur is such a place.

Big Sur is a 100 mile stretch of the California coast that has no competition for sheer grandeur anywhere on the West Coast.  Henry Miller claimed it was the way the Creator intended the world to be.


The first thing that comes to most people’s minds are the towering Santa Lucia mountains that plunge headlong into the blue Pacific Ocean.  And there’s no doubt, this is what characterizes Big Sur.  The mountains in some places are a mile high and drop to the sea in only two miles.  Statistics – interesting but they don’t begin to convey the feeling you have in your stomach when driving the Cabrillo Highway, the two lane road that clings to the cliffs, snaking its way from San Simeon in the south to Carmel-by-the-Sea in the north.

Wherever you have such a precipitous coastline you’ll find plenty of cliffs into which the surf endlessly crashes.  You can experience calm seas like the photograph above.  After all it is the Pacific.  Or you can get a little more action.



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