My one ‘best’ image of 2015


“Awakening” – California 2015

This is my one ‘best’ image of 2015. It was taken on a trip to northern California in June along the Damnation Creek trail in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.
We had been photographing the redwoods in another area the day before, and I found the whole process insanely difficult and very frustrating. Every time I’d thought I found something nice, the magic would disappear when I put the camera up to my eye – the scene simply didn’t translate well as a two dimensional image and the composition was boring. Photographing forests is really, really hard!
On this day, we were driving south and the plan was to try to find a spot at the next available campground, settle in, and then drive back north to check out this trail that I had read about earlier. It turned out, as we were driving south, there was a really beautiful fog in the area that this trail is in so we threw the plan of going to the campground first out the window and went on the hike instead. The fog created a magical mood, simplified the scene, and all of the sudden photographing in the forest was a lot easier! I wouldn’t say “easy” but it was a lot more inspiring. And not only was there this great fog, this part of the forest still had rhododendrons blooming! According to my “research” these should have been gone weeks ago. Double bonus!!!
We slowly hiked up the trail, shooting every few steps until we reached the end of where the best of the big redwoods were. It was at this time, that the fog started to lift and the sun began to shine through. I was so disappointed because I had wanted to photograph the trail in the same foggy conditions on the way back but then I turned around and I saw this beautiful scene. The fog parted just right and the sun shone, like a spot light, on to this one rhododendron bush. I managed to take just three shots before the light was gone.
Lessons learned:
When there is a shot to take or the conditions are perfect, don’t wait! I’m so glad that we stopped to shoot instead of going to the campground first. This is also true at other times – I can’t count how many times I didn’t stop to shoot something while out hiking because I didn’t want to stop and dig out my camera. I always say to myself that I’ll take the shot on the way back/down but I’m usually tired on the way back so I don’t take the shot anyway.
Change isn’t a bad thing! I was disappointed that the fog was lifting but I was only able to make this image because it was.


  1. Michael January 1, 2016 at 9:50 pm #

    Great picture! Lots of details all over, is it from a single shot, or HDR of multiple exposures?

    • Tom January 2, 2016 at 10:14 am #

      Thank you Michael! This image is from a single shot – no filters or HDR.

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