california redwoods photograph In 2010, my wife and I went to California to see the giant trees. We went to Yosemite to see the sequoia and to northern Californian to see the redwoods. I expected to be more impressed by the sequoia. Redwoods are generally taller, but standing on the ground it is difficult to see the difference between 200 feet and 250 feet tall. The sequoia are generally bigger around, and you can certainly see the difference between 15 feet and 25 feet across. As it turned out, I was more impressed by the redwoods. Sequoia grow in the high mountains, and they have an open and arid forest floor. Redwoods live near the coast, and the forest canopy is mostly closed. The forest floor is dense, damp, and dark. Direct sunlight reaches the forest floor only where a tree has fallen. In fact, falling trees play an important role in the forest ecology.

I found it difficult to photograph both the sequoia and the redwoods. It is very difficult to convey an impression of great size within the confines of a picture frame. None of the photographs I took, including this one, adequately convey the size of the trees. Nevertheless, I think this photograph does successfully convey the feeling of the dark forest floor and the importance of the shafts of light allowed in by fallen trees. I also like the sense of movement in this photograph. Your eye moves up and down, left and right, back and forth between the corners. Looking at this is sort of like watching a ping pong match. This hints at the chaotic nature of the forest floor.

Something amusing happened while I was exposing this negative. Because parts of this scene are so dark, this was a five minute exposure. While I was exposing the negative, a group of people walked in front of my camera. I said to myself, “Stay calm. They were only there for a few seconds. They won’t show up in the photograph.” About a minute later, they all came back. One took out her camera and took a picture of the others lined up in front of this scene. When her flash went off, I knew they would show up on my negative. So I just discarded that piece of film and started a new exposure.

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