Coastal Redwoods, California, USA by Stephen Whiston

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Picture Story

Last year my wife and I made the long drive down to Northern California coast from Seattle area in hope of catching a magic combination of redwoods, fog, and blooming rhododendrons. With luck, one can catch all of these at once in the group of state and national parks (comprising Redwood National Park) just south of Crescent City with the blooms happening in late May and early June.

The region is characterized by high bluffs and forests along the rugged Pacific Coastline and mornings (or entire days!) often have the trees shrouded in fog. While sometimes challenging to expose for if the sun is breaking through, a thicker fog can also make for very soft and diffused lighting which invariably gives a tranquil feel to virtually any composition. There are numerous trails in the region so we set off exploring trying to find that perfect combination of light, trees, and flowers! This particular image is taken from the side of a trail with a tripod.

Ironically, my goal was to capture a colorful image with the pink blossoms contrasting with the dark wood colors of the trees but this black and white image turned out to be my favorite from the trip. I cropped it slightly from the bottom for more of a panoramic effect and converted the image to b&w using Silver Efex Pro 2 software. After that some minor adjustments in Lightroom and I was had the result I was looking for.

One reason why I think this photo works (for me, at least!) is the feeling of depth via three layers. The first and sharpest layer is the rhododendron blooming on the right hand foreground where you can even see spider webs on close inspection. The second layer is the dark row of tall tree trunks that are softened slightly by the fog. And finally, the third layer are the lighter-colored trees in the background that are very soft due to the surrounding fog.

This is a wonderful location with very easy access and I hope to return again in the future.


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