There is something magical about spending an afternoon among the world’s largest living things. The giant sequoias are the prime attraction of California’s. There are many groves of these big trees scattered through the Sierra Nevada mountains at altitudes between 5,000 and 7,000 feet. The scale of the red giants is impressive. It’s almost impossible to capture their size in photos. The largest ones are as tall as a 26 story building (more than 250 feet) and about 30 feet in diameter. What is also fascinating is the age of these trees. They are between 1800 and 2700 years old.
General Sherman is the tallest (275 feet), followed by General Grant (268 feet). I was fortunate to spend a few minutes with General Grant at the end of the day. Beautiful end-of-day light, quiet, smoke smell in the air from a wild fire; so peaceful. Hard to describe and impossible to capture in photos. I fell in love with these trees and I will go back to visit them, hopefully soon.
If you are planning a visit to Sequoia National Park, here are a few tips for your photos:
1. Use a wide or ultra-wide angle lens. I used my Canon EF 24-70mm f/4.0L for the shots in this post since I have a full frame camera. If you have an APS-C sensor, you should use at least a 17 mm focal length (Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8).
2. Use a tripod. I don’t like carring a tripod either, but it’s very helpful in landscape photography. You want a large depth of field. Shooting at small apertures like f/22 will cause your shutter speed to drop significantly, especially in low light. If your lens has image stabilization, remember to turn it off while using the tripod.
3. Use a polarizing filter. I’m not a big fan of filters, but I recently decided to buy a circular polarizer filter. I like it and I use it more than I thought for two main reasons: it makes the sky deep blue and it cuts down the reflection that many objects have so the colors are more vibrant. Just like the bark of the Sequoias in the picture above. A polarizing filter also comes in handy when shooting a picture of water since it cuts out the glare. Definitely worth having in your bag.
Pack up and go to see these wonderful sequoias. I am sure you will love them as well.
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