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Radiant Light and Redwoods, Big Basin State Park

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 1 March 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


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Redwoods and Mendocino Coast Photo Workshop - June 15-18, 2010 (space available)
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Giant redwoods (not unlike giant sequoias) are truly one of nature's marvels. Strength, majesty, nobility, are all apt descriptions for these truly marvelous trees. On my recent post, I described a beautiful trail (Skyline to the Sea Trail), which led almost four miles to Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz, California. Along this trail, and not far from the parking area, my companions and Aminus3 members, Scott Schilling, Tracy Hagen, and I encountered some truly spectacular backlit mist as the damp ground and rising sun combined for a fine display of crepuscular rays.

The mist would form and dissipate in a blink of an eye, which made it difficult to find a suitable composition; just as I would change position, the mystical light would vanish. I'm not completely satisfied with this composition, but I did like the prominent placement of this redwood and the strong backlit foliage that provided the counter-balance to this strong radiant light.

You have read many times on this blog about the importance of lines and forms, which I feel serve to tie elements in the frame into a cohesive package (for lack of a better word). All singular elements must work towards a cohesive union of the whole if the image is to succeed. Moreover, it also is important to understand the psychological connotations of lines.

With this image, the dominant line is the rigid vertical of the redwood. Vertical lines first and foremost represent power, strength, and stability. Diagonal lines (created by the radiant crepuscular rays) are what I like to call "alert lines," as they alert the brain of some impending danger (think of falling trees). They also serve a duo purpose of drawing the eye through the frame as they provide visual movement.

The fact that I have broken the diagonals with the strong vertical of the tree is the area that concerns me and makes me wonder of this image is viable. Line interruption is encouraged in art as it serves to stop the eye from wandering out of the frame. Nonetheless, I fear that by centering the break-point, I have overly disrupted the overall harmony of this image. While composing this image, I initially reacted to the four smaller redwoods in the background and felt the large tree could be centered. Of course all these thoughts were racing through my mind at warped speed as I did not want to risk losing the mist.

When I get to this point of questioning an image, it is best for me to step away and detach any emotions I may still have fresh in my mind, then revisit a week or two down the line. To place such an image as this on my blog and gauge the reaction will also help my indecisiveness, so please feel free to express your opinions - I would welcome them.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 4/5 seconds F/16.0 ISO 200 57 mm

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