Or maybe I should have titled this post “The Lure Of The Trail.” Both are appropriate and actually meld into one another. I love leading lines – they are my favorite theme – and my favorite type of leading line is a trail. That trail leads the viewer’s eye deeper into the composition and onward to whatever adventure awaits. And trails within forests are my favorite, if for no other reason than the forest’s interior glow surrounded by green and brown shadows.
All of the images above were captured with my Sony Alpha 7riv and a 16-35mm lens during my 2020 October visit to Redwood National and State Parks. And all of these images were captured along one of the many trails in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in northern California. The tops of the trees are veiled a little bit in mist, as this trip was during the height of all the wildfires in California. Smoke drifted in from everywhere.
While photographing the Hoh Rain Forest, I noticed my compositions were so “busy.” Lifting my eyes away from the viewfinder, I took a really good look at the scenery and realized that the rain forest is, indeed, full of “busy-ness.” There is a riot of tree limbs, branches and trunks, mosses draped over the limbs and carpeting the trunks, ferns and other flora blanketing the ground, and so many shades of greens and browns.
When I told people that I’d been to Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska, each and every one of them would give me a blank stare. Whereupon, I would ask them if they’d seen photos of the bears standing at the waterfall with their mouths open, catching the salmon jumping up the falls. Then, the light bulb would turn on for them. Everybody is familiar with these iconic images, even if they don’t know the exact location.
Unless there is a sow with cubs at one of the other viewing platforms, the Brooks Falls Platform is by far the busiest, most crowded, most popular platform. So busy, as a matter of fact, that there is a ranger there during peak hours, clipboard in hand, taking names and allowing 1 hour of viewing time before those names are called and people are asked to move to make room for others waiting their turn.
The photo above makes it look like there’s not many people at the platform, but I can tell you for a fact that when this image was taken, both lower and upper tiers were crowded cheek-by-jowl with photographers, their tripods and their supertelephoto lenses. It was only thanks to a couple of forbearing photographers that I was able to squeeze in to a spot between them with my own tripod and (rented) supertelephoto.
My first morning at the falls presented me with just one bear and no salmon jumping. So, I screwed my 4-stop ND filter onto the lens and got in a little “silky water” practice….handheld! You see, the tripod bore the 500mm lens, so rather than take time to change out camera/lens combos, I just steadied my camera and 100-400mm lens on the railing of the platform and successfully achieved some silky-water shots.
Silky water shots aside, I definitely acquired my most dramatic bear images here at this platform.
My current plans – barring any unforeseen circumstances – are to return to the park in 2014. I urge those of you who can, to travel to the wild, remotely beautiful state of Alaska and visit this park to see the bears for yourself. It’s an amazing opportunity to view these creatures closeup and in their own environment (well, as close up as the National Park Service allows – if you are a photographer, a telephoto lens sure helps).
Oh, and if you are interested in knowing the details of where I stayed while in the park, go to this link. If you want to know about my gear and also the best times for photography at Katmai, click on this link to go to the article I wrote for the National Parks Traveler website. And, while you are at it, go to the Traveler’s Facebook page and Like them.
My last “Behind The Scenes At Katmai” post highlighted photographs taken of and from the Lower Platform, just across the floating bridge from Brooks Lodge, in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
This post shows you photographs taken from the Riffles Platform. This place is sort of like the middle child of viewing platforms in the park. Everybody either sees lots of action at the Lower Platform or the more iconic Brooks Falls Platform, so they may tend not to spend as much time at this platform, located just a few hundred yards downriver from Brooks Falls.
Looking upriver toward Brooks Falls
The Riffles Platform received its moniker from the numerous small, shallow rapids (riffles) in front of and to the sides of this viewing area. Our photo tour leader informed us that this is the area where we would see sows with their cubs because, unless desperate for food, the sows would stay clear of the falls where most of the males staked out spots. While I was there, I did not see any momma/cub combos – I saw those at the Lower Platform. What I did see were younger, more inexperienced bears and older bears looking for easier fishing.
To me, the Riffles Platform was analogous to an overflow parking lot at an event venue – when the Brooks Falls Platform got too crowded, people would come on down to this platform.
I didn’t see as much action at this platform as I did the others, but what action I did see yielded some very nice images.
All images on these posts are the exclusive property of Rebecca L. Latson and Where The Trails Take You Photography. Please respect my copyright and do not use these images on Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat or any other business, personal or social website, blog site, or other media without my written permission. Thank you.
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