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.
As you wander along the trails, marveling at these very tall coastal redwood trees in Redwood National and State Parks, you’ll notice all sorts of interesting knots and bumps and “molten wood sculptures” around the bases of these trees. Those are burls and are another way for the redwoods to sprout new growth, in addition to growing from seeds the size of a tomato seed. The ranger told me burl sprouts occur usually during some sort of traumatic event like a fire.
So, if you find yourself roaming the trails in this series of parks, take a look at the bases of these trees, photograph those burls, and notice whether or not you see any sort of growth from those “bumps.”
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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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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It’s Fun Fact Friday! Did you know that coast redwood trees have a very shallow root system? When I saw these and other downed trees while wandering the Stout Grove Trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, it brought to mind the downed oak trees I’d seen after hurricanes while living in southeast Texas. I asked a park ranger about this and she said yes, coast redwoods have shallow root systems that only go about 3 feet down, but the roots migrate outward around the tree for quite a distance, some as far as 80 feet from the tree. And, studies have indicated that one coast redwood tree’s root system can communicate with another redwood tree’s root system, providing nutrients and water to that other tree if it needs them.
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.
“Bobby socks” around Opalescent Pool in Black Sand Basin, Yellowstone National Park
“Bobby socks” along the Fountain Paint Pots Nature Trail, Yellowstone National Park
Hey folks, it’s Fun Fact Friday!
If you’ve ever visited Yellowstone National Park, you’ve seen these dead, desolate trees with the white rings around their bases. Those are called “Bobby socks” and are formed when the trees absorb the silica (natural glass) from the thermal waters. This, of course, kills the trees and “freezes” them to keep them standing.
I may be an SLR gal, but I freely admit that point-and-shoots are great at capturing national park images, too. When I am out in the parks, I always carry one of my two little point-and-shoots in my pocket. They are not only backup in case the photographic unthinkable happens, but they are great at getting macro shots.
This photo of a ponderosa pine growing atop a cross-bedded red-rock knoll (probably a little lithified sand dune) and framed by other trees, was captured with my Canon GX7 MkII. While it’s not the most sturdy of cameras around the lens area (the dainty little shutter blades that made up the “lens cap” and opened and closed when the camera was powered on and off broke off when the camera accidentally fell out of my vest pocket. Thankfully, it still works and I purchased a push-on lens cap to protect the lens.
So, don’t knock the point-and-shoots. They produce some nice little images, too.
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.
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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