Landscape Photography in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
All through California, there’s a lot of redwood forests, but from extensive research, I came to the conclusion that Jedidiah Smith redwoods state park was the best choice for me.Jedidiah
Jedidiah Smith redwoods state park is located just east of Crescent City in northern California. There are many trails to walk within the park, but I found two, which was highly rated on a review site for the different Redwood trails. Both trails has their trailhead from the Howland hill road.
Stout Grove is a fantastic little beginner’s trail where you are immediately thrown into a grove filled with giant Sequoia trees. There are not many small trees to disturb the view, which just makes the entire scene feel so much bigger! I remember how I felt like visiting an elven village from the Lord of the Rings.
I did read that it’s hard to photograph the redwoods and I can only agree. To get the entire forest into the scene you’ll have to use a broad focal length, but that makes the perspective between foreground and background very big, which makes the trees look smaller. If you use a narrow focal length you’ll be able to capture the size of the tree trunks, but not the crowns. By using all the fallen trees and getting different perspectives and putting a person into the pictures, I did manage to both make interesting pictures and show some size to these grandiose trees!
The Boy Scout Tree Trail
The day after we visited the Boy Scout Tree Trail, which is an out-and-back 5 mile trail. According to my research, you have to come rather early on busy days such as weekends during summer, since this trail is very popular. But with good reason. I have to admit, of all the wondrous places I’ve been to in my life that walk was one of the most magical! It’s like walking through Lord of the Rings, Avatar and Star Wars all at once! This trail is more a showcase of the world's best redwood scenery than an actual hiking trail. All the way through you’re able to see old-growth redwoods and only hear the sound of the forest. You’ll cross a few streams on your way and in the very back of the trail you’ll end up by a small waterfall called Fern Falls. A little back from Fern Falls there is a small almost invisible trail that leads up to the Boy Scout Tree, which is one of the largest trees in the world.
Photography wise you’re in the same dilemma as in Stout grove, it’s hard to capture the size of the trees.
You’ll be in luck if you can hit a sunny day with fog in the forest, where the fog is lit up by the sunbeams. We only had a few minutes of this phenomenon, but that was also very spectacular!
In general, it’s all about using the light to your advantage and it sure does help to travel with a person, which can work as both subject and scale in the pictures.
I had one picture in mind which I really wanted from the redwoods, which I’ve seen a few times on Instagram, but I didn’t know where the location was beside somewhere in Jedediah. Luckily I found it only about 100m from the trailhead, where one of the trees was fallen but with the trunk still hanging in the air. I had to get all the way down on the trail with the tripod in the lowest position to get the most dramatic perspective.