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.
My monthly photo column is now published in the National Parks Traveler. In it, I talk about how Redwood National and State Parks are the perfect places to capture plenty of vertical shots, with the occasional horizontal thrown in for good measure.
To read the article, click on the photo above.
The image above is of Howland Hill Road, a dirt and gravel road through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, which takes the driver to the parking area of Stout Grove. This road was my first introduction to redwoods, and I actually almost got lost trying to find the road. You see, the road runs for about 7 miles and you can enter it either just outside of Crescent City, CA, or a mile or two east of the Haiouchi Visitor Center along CA Highway 199. I opted for the Crescent City approach only to discover that road was closed less than a mile in, for construction work. I was hemmed in by huge construction tractors and had to gingerly make my way back down the hill and onto the highway to get to Howland Hill Road via the Hwy 199 route. The drive was worth it, though, as Stout Grove is a perfect introduction to coastal redwoods.
If you only have a short time to spend in Redwood National and State Parks, in northern California, then you should read my latest article published in the National Parks Traveler, about what you can do and see in just three days in this collaboration of national and state parks.
To read the article, click on the image above.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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They call this tree the “Penthouse Tree.” The damaged bark revealed the heartwood of this tree, which began to rot. In so rotting, it provided nutrients for other vegetation, such as the leather fern and evergreen huckleberry growing atop this redwood. This vegetation has a room with a view! If you ever have a chance to visit Redwood National and State Parks, you should definitely wander this 1.3-mile easy trail located in Redwood National Park. There’s a plaque dedicated to Lady Bird Johnson, who was there to dedicate this national park. Many of the sights you’ll see have numbered stakes beside them that correspond to descriptions in a brochure of this hike. The brochure used to be available at the trailhead, but due to Covid, the box is no longer stocked. You can, however, print out and read your own copy of the pamphlet by clicking on the image above.
The next time you visit a place that has some elevation difference, take a moment to observe the other differences due to that elevation difference. For instance, notice the differences in these images here? The lowland forest interior, captured at the entrance to Westside Road in Mount Rainier National Park, looks deep and dark and is filled with lush vegetation like ferns and devils club along with dead logs and moss on parts of the trees. Sunlight makes its way into the forest in spots. Whereas the forest along Trail of Shadows in the Longmire Historic District looks – well – clearer, with more space in between the trees, less moss, and a clearer forest floor. Yes, there’s vegetation there, too, but as you can see, not quite as thick. In part because it’s not quite as wet as it is in the lowland forest, plus the difference in elevation between the Nisqually entrance and Longmire creates a difference in temperatures, too. Observation is key to getting nice photos, rather than just a grabshot.
It’s the weekend, folks. Where will the trail take you? Perhaps to a quiet little pond for some solitude and thouthfulness? That’s what this image from Lake Clark National Park and Preserve brings to mind for me. It was a morning with no bears around to photograph, so we concentrated on other things during our hike out of a forest and into this misty meadow.
That’s a good lesson for you photographers out there. Often, we have high expectations of what we will see during a trip to a national park (or anywhere, for that matter). When it doesn’t pan out according to your expectations, then change those expectations and start observing what you see around you. On that morning, sans bears, I photographed a field filled with spiderwebs bejeweled with dewdrops. a downed nurselog housing a clump of tiny mushrooms, an orb weaver spider spinning a web, and this pond with it’s feathered swimmers within a golden meadow surrounded by mountains and a forest obscured by mist. It was lovely.
Here’s a fun fact for your Monday: the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park gets over 12 feet of rain a year. So, when you go visit, make sure you take along a rain jacket.
The image below was taken during late summer, and it was actually a dry day. In truth, all the days I was there in the park were dry days – well, ok, except for the last two days, when I visited Hurricane Ridge.
Imagine yourself, all alone, walking through a dark forest full of twisting and twisted trees. You know something is lurking out there, watching you. You’ve got to get away, but where do you run that you won’t stumble over twisted tree roots? You know something wicked this way comes for you.
On Halloween, even national park forests, like this one in Olympic National Park along the Sol Duc Falls Trail, can look pretty sinister and spooky, when given a little black & white conversion and some vignetting around the edges.
Yeah, I’ve been posting quite a few tree and forest interior images. It’s what you do when you visit Olympic National Park. This shot was captured during a hike along the Sol Duc Falls trail in the Sol Duc Valley. There are all sorts of lovely, deep, quiet, photo ops and the trees always look very interesting. This tall tree in front appears to be growing right out of or at least, very close to, the tree behind it, if you look closely at the root structure at the bottom of the trees.
The moral of this story is that you should observe the scenes around you and not keep your head down as you head toward your sole purpose of hiking the trail in the first place (in this case, to get to Sol Duc Falls). The more you observe, the better your compositions become.
I know, what a word to use for something as beautiful as the scenery along the Hall of Mosses trail in the Hoh Rain Forest of Olympic National Park. Actually, this image (just in time for Halloween, I might add), is a duplicate of the color one I uploaded to a post a couple of days ago. I wondered how forest interiors might look if converted to monochrome. I immediately noticed the clarity and texture of the tree roots, and the play of shadow and light in the scene. A lovely, green and brown serene scene became a bit more sinister in black and white.
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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