Daily Photo – Old Growth Redwoods

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

This clump of old growth redwoods is one of the surviving groves of a massive fire over 100 years ago.  They’re part of California’s oldest state park, Big Basin, in the Santa Cruz Mountains.


  • Shutter:  1/60 (on tripod)
  • Aperture:  f/5.6
  • ISO:  400
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Composition and Processing

  • This is a fairly common composition for tall trees, particularly redwoods.  It’s nevertheless a challenge to shoot on sunny days when the combination of bright sunlight and deep forest shade will clip both ends of the histogram.  In this instance, I opted to lose some of the highlight detail in order to preserve information in the bark and leaves.  For much the same reason, I didn’t feel comfortable going above ISO 400 or any smaller than f/5.6.  Sure, I was on a tripod, but there was just enough breeze to be a problem.
  • Are redwoods this green?  Not really.  Or rather, they’re a deeper shade of green.  However, with the sun poking through the leaves from above, I wanted a more airy, light feel to the image (as opposed to the dark forest it really is).  It also contrasted better with the brown and black tree bark.


February 02 2009 07:16 pm | Photography

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