Jeff and I spent a couple days shooting in the redwoods last weekend. The goal was to “shoot rhododendrons in the redwoods in the fog”. Much internet research had led me to believe that late May should be the peak time for blooming. We stayed in Crescent City, California, at The Lighthouse Inn, Highly recommended, in spite of their website which plays the sound of foghorns and birds screeching when you go to it. All websites that automatically play sounds should be outlawed!
We left Thursday morning and scouted our way down the Southern Oregon coast. The plan was to hit Samuel Boardman State Park just before sunset for the glorious photos we were sure awaited us. About 5pm the sun came out (sunset was 8:45p) and things were looking very promising for about 45 minutes until it disappeared behind the usual coastal marine layer. Little did we know that would be the last we’d see of the sun for the next day and a half.
When we arrived in Crescent City, we thought we had nailed the timing. All the rhodies in front of the houses and businesses were in full bloom! To make a long story short, we hiked about 12 miles through various trails in all the parks there (Del Norte, Jedediah Smith, Prarie Creek, and Redwood National) and saw exactly 8 blooming rhodies, all in the most “blah” light you can imagine. Check out this picture from a really good photographer (not me) on 500px: Forest Fog & Blooms. I shot this exact same rhodie. So did Jeff. So did at least two other photographers I found on 500px. This was the superstar rhodie in the whole forest. It’s on Damnation Creek Trail in Del Norte Park. Patricia got far and away the best shot. What I wouldn’t have given for some of that sunlight.
Saturday morning we finally got about an hour or so of nice sunlight through the fog in Lady Bird Johnson Grove. All of a sudden the forest seemed target rich, and we got quite an adrenalin boost. Godbeams were everywhere, lit up trees, the works. Of course, still no rhodies.
Our last shoot opportunity was Battery Point Lighthouse. The sun came out again for a little over an hour, and we had some nice light. I got my favorite shot of the trip, the first one below. There’s also the postcard lighthouse shot below.
I wish I could say we learned something. My takeaway is that wild rhodies just don’t bloom much. I would really like to know if there is a time where the whole forest goes off with blooms. My guess is “no”. We talked to a local hiker who said there hadn’t been any blooms earlier, so we know we weren’t too late. Maybe we were too early, but looking at the ones in town, I don’t think so. I’m getting an understanding now of why I couldn’t find more really good rhodie shots online.
Long exposure rocks near Battery Point Lighthouse.
A trillium (I think)
A lit up tree in one of our brief moments of sun
Godbeams in Lady Bird Johnson Grove
Battery Point Lighthouse
My favorite tree