Milpitas Camera Club Field Trip
Field Trip: Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Trip Date: May 15, 2004
Report Author: Scott Hinrichs
Report Date: May 17, 2004

Twelve tripod-bearing sojourners met near the Big Basin Redwoods State Park headquarters this past Saturday, May 15. It was the Big Basin reprise trip.

There were four MilpCamClub members present. The group was lagging about a half hour behind schedule, so if others came to the park headquarters earlier that is why there was no one to meet you. If we failed to hook up with any early birds, I’m sorry.

The drive down Highway 236 from the Highway 9 junction was spectacular because of a light fog that delicately veiled the forest. There were three or four miles of potential calendar shots. I desperately wanted to pull over on the narrow road and get a shot of it, but with all the cars behind me I dared not create a hazard on that narrow, winding road. Once we got to the bottom of the canyon the clouds were gone and none of the magical fog was there to record. (This fog occurs often, so the chance of getting that “calendar shot” is relatively good for those who wish to return to Big Basin.) Dave H. said that he stopped and photographed the fog, so you might see his calendar shot on his Web site:

We regrouped in front of the visitors’ center and selected a 2-mile trail that led to a waterfall. Although the mushrooms had long since dried up and the trailside wildlife was sparse, the hike through the tall, old trees was very rewarding. As the sun burned through the veil of clouds it presented us with the usual lighting dilemma that confronts shooters in a forest—the wide range of contrast levels between sun and shadow. Shutter speeds ranged from 1 second to 1/500. What to do? Don’t put all your trust in your light meter and bracket your exposures liberally. That strategy worked for me—and I hope that it worked for you.

The previously cancelled Big Basin field trip in March was timed for the mushrooms and water-effects. I regret chickening out because of a little rain—but I don’t regret the fine pictures I got at Hakone in the fog that day. Lo, for I did not heed the prophecy of the Masters of Light: “Bad weather makes for good pictures!”

This past weekend, however, we had to put several quarters in the waterfall to get it trickling so we could take our pictures. (Just kidding!) The waterfall was the high point of our hike and we returned via the paved road, which actually offered more wildflowers and wildlife than the trail did. A bit of comic relief was provided by Noni, our youngest participant, who shared such wisdom and frankness that only bright teenagers possess. She also lent us her unbridled enthusiasm and doubled as a model. Thank you, Noni.

At the end of the hike I knew hadn’t taken any contest-winning photos but I had the benefits from the exercise and the fresh air and some pretty nice snapshots. All in all the Big Basin trip was a lot of fun and worth the relatively short, but tortuous drive to get there. I hope you all had a similar feeling of accomplishment.

Several in the group stayed behind after I left, so perhaps they found more photographic nirvana in the enchanted forest at Big Basin.

© 2004 S.R. Hinrichs