MQC Photo Costa Rica
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Photographing the big and the small

A few weeks ago we went to see the big redwood trees at Redwood National Forest and Parks in Northern California… What an amazing experience that was!

I remembered how one of my students/clients/friends had mentioned a year ago that I will encounter the challenge of photographing those big trees and giving justice to its majestic size… Well, he was right… It was a challenge…

A wide angle lens was necessary to do the right photography, I used it a lot. But I also ended up using my macro lens to photograph the small details that also live in this forest of giants.

Here are some of my favorite photos from that trip.

This creature is the Banana Slug, endemic to the Pacific Northwest region of North America. If you see it, it is not that beautiful, it could almost be considered a bit gross, but when you look close, it is very interesting… I found it eating, and it gave me the opportunity to photograph it “in action” instead of just laying like a slime on the floor. I used my 100mm macro lens to take this photo, it was dark so using a small depth of field was not only better to separate it from the background, but also to get a better speed.
Now, how to make justice to the giants? Well, we need something to compare them with… How about a person walking on the trail right next tot he tree? My wide angle lens was the right call for this photo, but only the 35mm, didn’t need to go as far as 16mm. I decided to include a lot of the trail and other trees in the foreground so you can have an idea of the feeling of the forest. Also, I should mention that we had an overcast day, and that helped to have a smooth lighting across the forest.
Now in this photograph there is no element to compare the size of the tree, but look a the light! This is my favorite photo from the trip… I little bit of negative exposure compensation helped keep the colors in bright areas and increased the good contrast.
We saw so many beautiful small flowers in our walks… This photo I took with my wide angle (35mm) and I just was very careful to position the flowers in a pattern that will make the photo interesting. I also underexposed this photo, so the whites in the flowers had enough detail.
So many secret rooms inside these giant trees! I could not stop thinking that there most be a lot of bats in there, and I love bats… but well, it is hard to see inside those holes… Again, this photo doesn’t show how bit these trees are, but I like the framing they do of the forest in the back, and the fact that it almost looks like an intersection: you can go straight, take a left into the tree or a right into the other tree! Wide angle lens again!

Have you noticed so far that for all the photos of the trees I used a vertical format? Well, that helps you emphasis that this trees are tall! We tend to photograph mostly on a horizontal format, just because that is the way we see, bu sometimes it is very important to use a vertical format.

But here is a way to use horizontal and still give the idea of how big this trees are! We found this hollow tree with an amazing beam of light going straight inside it! With the right expose for the highlights, we got this wonderful photograph! Wide angle again with negative exposure compensation.
I also wanted to be in this photo!
With the macro lens and a tripod I got this fun detail of a fern.

2 Responses

  1. Jan Lichenstein says:

    Hi Monica – I hope you remember me. I’m Seth’s mom (Leland’s friend) from Oregon. Your photos are wonderful! I was just down in the Redwoods visiting Seth (he lives in Arcata, CA). I love being among those trees. I will actually be in CR in a few days but will be in Guanacaste for most of the time except for a short visit to the La Fortuna area. I have great memories of being with you in CR & love checking out your work. Jan

  2. mqcphoto says:

    Hi Jan!
    So nice to hear from you! I am also honored that you like my work and take the time to look at it!
    I wish I was in Costa Rica to go see you somewhere!! I am still dreaming to go to that farm in Guanacaste that belongs to your brother (right?)
    My time in the Redwood Forest was also amazing, we had a great time and enjoyed the trees very much… I wish I knew Seth was in Arcata, we stopped fro lunch there… I liked the town!
    I send you a big hug!

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