In Redwood Country

Redwoods and rhododendron, late afternoon, Del Norte Redwoods SP, CA, USA

Redwoods and rhododendron, late afternoon

I’m up along the far northern California coast, scouting for my upcoming redwood workshops. I just love this area, and I’m having fun exploring some new locations, as well as reacquainting myself with old favorites.

We’ve had off-and-on showers, with periods of soft light broken up by sunshine and interesting clouds. On Tuesday afternoon a rain squall passed through, and then skies cleared late in the afternoon – perfect conditions for photographing some of the sea stacks that are so abundant along the coast here. I’ve included three images from that afternoon below.

I found a redwood grove that gets sunlight very late in the afternoon, and watched beautiful amber light streaming through the forest as I walked along the trail. Photographing a forest with patches of sun and shade is a lot like photographing a landscape with dappled light from broken clouds. The light has to highlight the most interesting parts of the scene for it to work, but when that happens the modulated, chiaroscuro lighting can add depth, dimension, and mood to the photograph. I found a couple of compositions where the light hit just the right places: the image of redwoods and rhododendrons at the top, and the one with faint sunbeams below.

Both of these photos are good examples of the kind of small-scale lighting events that I wrote about in an earlier post. The rhododendron happened to grow in a spot illuminated by one of the very last rays of sun, while the faint sunbeams were only visible from one particular spot, and luckily were juxtaposed with a nice pattern of light on the ferns below.

There’s such a nice contrast here between the quiet, peaceful redwood forests, and the wild, rocky, stormy coast. Moody landscapes abound. I’m really looking forward to the workshops!

— Michael Frye

Late-afternoon sunbeams in a redwood forest, Del Norte Redwoods SP, CA, USA

Late-afternoon sunbeams in a redwood forest

Battery Point Lighthouse at dusk, Crescent City, CA

Battery Point Lighthouse at dusk, Crescent City, CA, USA

Five-fingered ferns, Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP, CA, USA

Five-fingered ferns, Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP, CA, USA

Waves and sea stacks, late afternoon, Redwood NP, CA, USA

Waves and sea stacks, late afternoon, Redwood NP, CA, USA

Sea stacks at sunset, Redwood NP, CA, USA

Sea stacks at sunset, Redwood NP, CA, USA

Sea stacks and waves at dusk, Redwood NP, CA, USA

Sea stacks and waves at dusk, Redwood NP, CA, USA

Related Posts: Light and Mood With Intimate Landscapes; Back to Jurassic Park

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27 Responses to “In Redwood Country”

  1. Tom Bancroft says:

    I really like how you captured the rhododendrons, it is so picturesque. I also like the blur in the bottom sea stack shot. It gives it a wonderful mood. Wish I could take your workshop, maybe next year. Tom

  2. James Murphy says:

    I was pleasantly surprised when I opened your photo-op in the Redwoods area. I have been to the Muir grove, Fern Grotto, the Redwood National Park and Jedediah Smith State Park many times. Your pictures are so well presented that I intend to visit them in the late fall. Thank you for such beautifully lighted photographs of this beautiful ecosystem. The coast is just as inviting as well. I particularly enjoyed the lighthouse image. Thank you.

  3. Lenya says:

    The first photograph is very beautiful, the light really takes you (me, that is) by surprise,
    thank you very much for sharing it.

  4. Claire says:

    Stunning photos as ever, so atmospheric. Makes me want to grab my passport and come and visit!

  5. Kyle Jones says:

    I made my first trip to the Redwoods in December. My hike through Prairie Creek may have been the prettiest walk I’ve ever taken. I really like the first shot. It would be beautiful enough on its own, but the light on the rhododendron balanced against the yellow in the upper left really takes it over the top.

  6. Vivienne says:

    Hi Michael,

    The light on those rhododendron is really something else isn’t it? Sounds like my place to be, someplace peaceful and relaxing. And it sounds like a great combination, majestic trees and sea stacks! I also really like the fern. Beautiful abstract.

  7. Wayne S. says:

    Nice image of the Rhoddies and Redwoods!
    And sea stacks at sunset!
    Been studying the weather reports for up there, looking for the morning fog clearing by mid day type days but canceled my plans for last weekend due to the rain and cloudy overcast and now see only sunshine and wind predicted for this weekend.
    Hard shooting conditions in the redwoods when you are waiting around for a lull in the wind so the ferns stay still.
    Are the Rhoddies still at peak in the redwood forest areas?
    Has there been any fog lately?

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks Wayne. The rhodies bloomed early, and took a beating in the rains here on Monday and Tuesday. There are still some nice ones, and others that are not yet fully out, but the ones that bloomed earlier have mostly lost their blossoms. It may actually be better in a week or so after some of the later-emerging ones come out more. They seem to be blooming at about the same pace in all the usual spots in Del Norte, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Jedediah Smith, etc. We’ve had fog in spots virtually every day this past week, but different than the typical coastal fog sometimes. Tuesday and Wednesday we had fog associated with the rain, and Thursday and Friday we had valley fog. Today we had more typical coastal fog, and it’s coming in again tonight. Forecast calls for fog Wednesday and Thursday.

  8. Mary Butler says:

    Beautiful images. I have your iphone Yosemite app and little book and look forward to using it. Appreciate all the information you share.

  9. Praki says:

    Hello Michael:
    The rhododendron image is quite beautiful. I am planning a visit to that are around June 21. Is that too late for the flowers? Can you share the location of the best flowering for that time? Also where you took the exposures published on the web site? I hope I can take the workshop next year.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks Praki. June 21st will be too late for rhododendrons this year. The bloom varies, of course. From everything I can gather, it’s usually around the end of May and beginning of June. I saw a lot of rhododendrons on June 22nd of 2011, but that’s unusually late. This year the bloom was early, and was past peak when I left last week.

  10. Bart says:

    I love the rhododendrons shot. Incredible light and detail. Did you capture it with A7r?


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