Capturing the Tallest Trees on Earth

A Survivor

Photographing big trees is always a challenge. It’s almost impossible to fit sprawling old sentinels into a frame in a way that does justice to their size or majesty. The first time I visited Redwoods National Park in northern California, I had a dinky point and shoot film camera and all I could think to do was aim my camera skywards. I ended up with a dull roll of tapering tree trunks. Oh well. Redwoods are practically immortal – they cannot be killed by fire or disease – they have no need for photographic indelibility.

This time visiting the Redwoods, I was better prepared, armed with my trusty Olympus E3 and seven years of daily practice at capturing life through a lens. I avoided the tired shot of trunks pointing at the sky and instead tried to find the faces in the trees. Many of these giants have stood for thousands of years, longer than most civilizations, and the passage of time is written on their bark, trunks and branches. In my quest for a few worthy portraits, the mighty Redwoods literally brought me to my knees.

Fire-scarred Redwood Portrait

Redwood Bark, impervious to almost everything

Doorway to a Redwood World

Redwood Self Portrait

Ok, one skyward shot: Rhododendrons & Redwoods!

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at
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10 Responses to Capturing the Tallest Trees on Earth

  1. Looks like you are heading north … if you are going to Washington State, then I strongly recommend you go check out the Enchanted Lakes in the central Cascades if you have not already been there. Pristine high alpine lakes. It’s exquisite. You have to reserve months ahead but there is a daily lottery and some people drop out creating openings. Relatively very few people ever see this area.

  2. Great, now I have another place on my bucket list. You got to quit doing this. I am getting older and my list keeps getting longer!!!!shalom en theos…jim†††

  3. I went to Yosemite when I was younger! I loved it and it’s so amazing. If I were to go back I’d take so many pictures even the classic looking up photo. ahaha! But there are no pictures of the massive pinecones!!

  4. LA Edwards says:

    I Love your life! I remember being at the redwood forest as a kid with my parents, driving through the tree. Is it still there?

  5. ritaroberts says:

    Wow Mary,those Redwood trees are so majestic and your photo’s brilliant. The skyward shot says it all. Wonderful.

  6. Don West says:

    Those trees put a new perspective on our little short lives don’t they? When the Mayflower landed, those very trees you photographed were there minding the forest and not looking much different than they do today. Oh the stories they could tell of the things they’ve seen from way up at the top…

  7. I usually enjoy your blog entries for the stories. Today, I enjoyed the photos! You really outdid yourself! They’re wonderful! If, in the near future, you feel like you’re being followed….. please don’t be scared, it’s just me enjoying the trip!

  8. Rachael says:

    Wow those trees are incredible!!

  9. martin watkins says:

    I grew up in the Redwoods of NorCal, climbing them, playing among them, (there’s no better fort than redwood stump) and to this day all it takes is a short stroll into the woods to feel “home” again.

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