I found most of my success included some kind of human element, whether it was a car driving through the walls of giants, or tourists trying to make a human chain around the widest tree. Without the human element in my photography, it seemed the trees lost their splendor. It’s funny, in such a place that could mask the human presence only a few yards away, the best way to capture it was to include that presence. I think it has to do with including a familiar object with an unfamiliar landscape. We need that familiarity to wrap our brains around such a magical place, and keep from being fooled by it.
We got off Highway 101 and followed the signs for Avenue of the Giants. The small winding road led us through towering redwoods I had only dreamt about, until now. It’s incredible to see something so large and living in person. No picture can substitute the feeling. So, what is a photographer to do when you know any photo you take will only be trivial in comparison to the feeling of actually being there? I’m not sure I have the answer. I couldn’t plan to capture the enormity of the giants; I merely wanted to capture the aura. To say the Redwoods are grand and peaceful is an understatement. One step into the forest of giants and it’s like you’ve stepped into another world. I wanted to capture the scale of the place. I wanted to capture the journey it takes to get to such a peaceful place. So, I went in with a warming polarizer and a tripod and set out in search of shots that would satisfy my intent.
The Avenue of the Giants actually goes through Humboldt Redwood State Park, home of some of the most brilliant redwoods in the state. We checked-in at the main campground and decided on the environmental camp (Hamilton Barn) a few miles from the center. We ended up avoiding the crowds at the main campsite and had the entire site to ourselves. The next morning we woke to a light drizzle of rain, just enough to saturate the colors of the forest. I didn't want to leave, but the next adventure was calling: Yosemite National Park.
Published: June 26, 2012