One of the challenges photographing in the redwoods is capturing the mood, mystery and enormous size of this forest. Redwoods are the tallest trees in the world, and walking through the forest on a quiet early morning is a spiritual experience. You can’t help but be awed and impressed by these trees.
This presents a challenge to the photographer. How to convey this feeling in a photograph? Most photographers, myself included, are overwhelmed with first attempts to create photographs here. But after a little exploring and experimentation with technique, graphic qualities become more apparent. I got lucky on our last workshop there, because I found a beautiful scene exploring a remote trail. Magically, the fog appeared where it had been absent only minutes earlier.
One lens I really liked using in the redwoods was my 45mm tilt shift lens with my D850. This lens can radically throw elements out of focus by tilting the front element up or down. Soft, out of focus elements in an image can add mystery and contemplation in the viewer, perfect for capturing this aspect of the redwoods. Next, fog starting appearing on the trail as the sun broke through the canopy. One reason we planned our workshop during late July was this is the driest time to photograph in the redwoods, and your best chance for photographing sun beams in the fog. I took a few images of the trail without anyone on it, and liked the shot a lot. But the missing element, perspective and scale, needed some help. One of our group was also photographing this scene, and I realized photographing him photographing this incredible scene would add scale to the image. Tilt shift blur, fog, sun and the human element all came together for one lucky shot.
Next year we are going back to the redwoods to run another workshop here. Instead of the 45mm tilt shift, I am going to bring the 24mm version, better suited for wide angle landscapes. Another aspect of tilt shift photographer, miniaturization, also helps convey scale in this forest. I can’t wait!