Howland Hill Road, Redwoods National and State Parks

Howland Hill Road, Redwoods National and State Parks

Over the Memorial Day weekend my wife and I made a very quick trip down to Northern California to take in the amazing ancient Redwoods at Redwoods National and State Parks. Our trip was a last minute decision and, though I wish I had more time to take it in, I felt it was well worth our time (though it required about as much time driving as we had for taking in the park). I quickly gathered up some notes from what others had said online about places to see and we managed pretty well with the short time we had. I had seen the "Howland Hill Road" recommended a couple of times and, since it was on our way heading back north we took the detour.

Howland Hill Road, as it turns out, may be the most spectacular 7 miles you can actually drive. It felt more like a spectacular hiking trail than a road, but just wide enough for a car. The road weaves between ancient redwoods, mostly along a hillside just above Mill Creek. It's spectacular. However, it was about 11AM and we still had a 600 mile drive ahead of us and we just didn't have much time to take it all in. I only took one opportunity to set up the large format camera, but I wished I had time for far more.

This was the scene where I decided to bring out the 4x5 camera. I don't know that it captures the essence of this place any better than another location, but I enjoyed it. I was particularly drawn to the younger pine growing in the foreground in contrast to the taller redwoods in the background. After making my first exposure, for which I used a small aperture to keep everything in focus, it occurred to me that the photograph might look confused and simply to chaotic to make sense of (I believe the color exposure will prove to be a little easier to see in full detail). To compensate somewhat for the abundant detail, I decided to focus sharply on the foreground tree and let the rest of the scene fall slightly out of focus, which I rarely do in landscape photographs. In this way, the foreground is defined cleanly against the rest of the scene just through the increased sharpness (unfortunately with these small images online that effect is actually somewhat lost). Once again, I find trying to share a small digital version of a photo can't really convey what a print can.

My visit to Redwoods was brief, but very memorable. It's quite remote, but so very well worth the effort to reach it - I can't recommend it enough. If you visit, be sure to take the time to drive the spectacular Howland Hill Road in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

Tachihara 4x5 | Caltar II-N 150mm f/5.6 | f/7.1 | 1/2s | Ilford FP4+ | Tripod | HC110(b)

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