How to photograph the Fern Canyon (Redwoods National Park)

American Road Trip Journal #11: Fern Canyon

This is not an easy place to photograph! And it's even harder in black and white. I wasn't prepared and that shows in my photos, they are not good... at all.

You need to find a strong composition to succeed here, and that requires some time. I didn't have that time (and you probably won't either unless you are prepared - it gets very cold once your feet get wet) and that shows on my shots: they are bad.

I made several mistakes, the first one was to use wide apertures and short exposures. I did this because my first shots were handheld and also because there was some wind that was moving the ferns.

Possible approaches to capture this canyon in these conditions?

  • take longer exposures of the canyon using smaller apertures, f/11 at least to get most of it in focus.
  • close-ups of the stunning vegetation, the walls of ferns are very cool. You'll need wide apertures here to compensate for the wind, but it will be easier to keep your subject in focus.
  • try to take silhouettes of the trees and the top of the canyon against the -most likely- overcast sky.

We didn't see them there -we ran into them later that morning though, in a different area of the park-, but there are elk and they can be aggressive. But I'd be prepared just in case you find them and they are far enough to take some safe shots.

From the trailhead, you can access a beach. We didn't because, you know, no dogs in national parks, but probably another good place to take some shots before heading out.

American Road Trip Journal #11: Fern Canyon

Finally, a new episode of the American Road Trip Journal is here!

As you might have already guessed by the name, this canyon is covered in ferns. Located in the Redwoods National and State Parks in Northern California, it got some fame after a guy named Steven Spielberg chose it to film a scene for Jurassic Park II in this canyon. NBD.

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