Muir Woods, California, USA by Dave Noordhoff

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Picture Story

I had never seen redwood trees until I arrived at Muir Woods National Monument, just north of San Francisco, California. We were camped on the beach at Bodega Bay, about 80 kilometres north; it was a beautiful autumn drive to Muir Woods along the Pacific coast, but it took us four hours to do the trip as there were so many places to stop, look and shoot!

Muir Woods features old growth coastal redwoods, the tallest of all living things. The tallest redwood at Muir Woods is more than 75 metres high (further north, they reach heights of 115 metres). They are between 600 to 800 years old, with the oldest being at least 1200 years old (this is still young for redwoods as they can live up to 2200 years).

After parking we set off on the 1.5 km trail to Cathedral Grove. The path is paved and easy to walk and if we were patient we often had a sizable section to ourselves. The Grove was well named; it was almost silent as many walkers were awestruck by the great trees soaring up around them.

It was difficult to frame objects the size of these redwoods even with my widest lens on a full frame body. In addition, it was much darker in the woods than I had anticipated; it was a good thing I brought a tripod! A third problem was the difference in luminance of the upper branches and the trunks near the ground.

I shot at ISO 1600 almost wide open, bracketing three exposures, shooting straight up the trunk of one of the giants. Later I combined the best set of three exposures and ended up with this image. It was one of the best shots I ever got with that lens!


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