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Fern Canyon, Humbolt County

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 13 September 2009 in Landscape & Rural.


Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop November 4-8, 2009 (Sold Out - Waiting List Only)
Spring Big Sur Photo Workshop - March 29 - April 1, 2010 (6 spots available)
Northern Arizona: Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Sedona Photo Workshop - May 3-7, 2010 (space available)
Redwoods and Mendocino Coast Photo Workshop - June 15-18, 2010 (space available)
Kauai, Hawaii Photo Workshop - July 12-16, 2010 (8 spots available)
Big Sur Photo Workshop Summer August, 2010 (Exciting details TBA soon)!
The more I explore the northern California region, the more I realize what an undiscovered treasure this area truly is. This past June I held my first workshop in portions of Redwoods National Park and Mendocino County. True it doesn't have the name recognition of Yosemite or Grand Canyon, but it is nonetheless a remarkable area for landscape photographers and nature enthusiasts.

One of the areas we visited was Fern Canyon. Inauspiciously located on the coastal side of Redwoods National Park, it is not on many tourists maps, but for those interested: turn onto Davison Road off Highway 101, 2 miles north of Orick, and follow the mainly dirt road for 9 miles. You will come to a parking area where the road ends. Follow the trail north out of the parking lot for about 1/4 mile, then turn right when you reach Home Creek.

The creek winds back through the forest and has over eons carved a deep canyon (approximately 50 - 80 feet) through the sedimentary soils. Here you will discover vertical walls which spout an amazing variety of ferns (five different kinds) and other moisture-loving plants and mosses. You will feel as if you are in another world and in a sense you are, as Stephen Spielberg chose this location for a scene in Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World.

Visually the area can seem overwhelming at first glance, but with some careful inspection, the images slowly begin to emerge. For this macro image, I decided to concentrate on making a statement about this area and what it has to offer - mainly - ferns. I loved the repeating patterns but was having a tough time making logical sense with my camera and my 70-200mmL lens. Fortunately I decided to try some macro and the patterns began to reveal themselves. I used my Canon 100 mm and isolated a section of small ferns confined to an area of about 6" by 4."

Generally most of my compositions are asymmetrical. This image is almost (but not quite, symmetrical). Symmetrical compositions are based on a center line, an equilibrium called stasis, and emanate tranquility and stability.

I liked how the light on the foreground left hand fern was brighter than the subordinate right hand fern which was more in the shade. Clouds were drifting past and this was late in the afternoon, so everything was illuminated by indirect light. Lighter tone elements in a image stand forward while darker tone objects recede. I further enhanced this by making sure the focus was on the left hand fern. Even at f/16, when one is this close with a medium telephoto (macro range) there is no way to carry the depth-of-field throughout the entire image.

Lastly, I made sure the color green dominated the scene (which wasn't hard to do). Green is a color that symbolizes nature. It has many psychological implications including: tranquility, good luck, health, and jealousy. Green also has a calming effect and is thought to relieve stress and help heal (don't you feel better already just looking at this image)?

Lastly, and I found this interesting, green has long been a symbol of fertility and was once the preferred color of choice for wedding gowns in the 15th-century. Even today, green M & M's (an American chocolate candy) are said to send a sexual message. Hmmm, the things you learn on a photo blog!

If you would like to join Gary Hart and me next June and explore this incredible area for yourself, please check out my workshop Redwoods and Mendocino Coast Photo Workshop.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 4 seconds F/16.0 ISO 400 100 mm

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