Photographing the Redwoods

The redwoods area that we’ll be looking at today is in CA, but just barely. It’s right on the border with Oregon and a great place to use as your base, if you’re not camping, is Crescent City. It’s about 12 miles south of the OR border. There’s plenty of hotel options. The weather is generally mild, if you’re used to OR coast weather then you know what to expect. In short, it’s somewhat mild in the summer topping out at about 80 degrees and generally windy.

As I look at my “All Stays” app on my iPhone there’s plenty of campgrounds to consider staying at if you like that kind of thing. I like camping, but the time I went to the area I took two of my boys and elected to stay in a hotel. Airbnb would also be a good option.

The places I want to focus on are:

Jedediah Smith State Park | Stout Grove

When we pulled in to the area we came through this state park which is cooperatively managed by the CA parks system and the National Park System. It’s about 10,000 acres in size and it contains 7% of all the world’s old growth redwoods. Also, the Smith River runs through it. It’s the longest free flowing river in CA. The park is a magnificent place to shoot. One place I went to was Stout Grove. Check out their website here.

Battery Point Lighthouse

The Battery Point Lighthouse is kind of cool. It’s right along the coast at Crescent City. And there’s a breakwater you can walk out on. At the end there’s some strangely shaped items that the boys and I loved walking out on. It made for some interesting shots. Find more info here.

Mystery of Trees

Mystery of Trees is kind of a neat place. If you’re looking for purely awesome photography… maybe go elsewhere. But if you have kids in tow it’s a pretty cool place. They have an easy to walk trail that takes you to a sky tram gondola. You can then walk down the mountain or ride the gondola back down. My favorite spot in this area, though, was the trail that’s accessible right across the road from Mystery of Trees. Park in the hotel parking lot, far northern end, and there’s a trail that takes you out to the coast. It’s short, but a really great place to shoot. Check out the maps here at the NPS website.

Fern Canyon

And finally there’s Fern Canyon. This is a rather easy to get to location that does not disappoint. I went in early summer and the river flowing through the canyon was already fairly low and easy to walk through. To get to the good stuff you should plan on getting your feet wet. But it was only about eight inches at the deepest part necessary to keep going.
My only real problem here was my obsession with getting focus stacked panoramic images. I think I got some OK shots, but I neglected to get some with my wide angle. But the polarizer really helped here as well since the walls are coated with ferns and the polarizer blocks the glare off the moisture allowing the greenery to really come to life.
But as an update here in early June 2018, there’s a logjam blocking the loop trail, a ¼ mile out and back is still possible and still quite worth it. Check out some trail information here.

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