The challenge of big trees: Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Big Trees, CA

So, what’s the challenge? A tree is a tree! Not when they are giant Sequoias! This was my first time at Calaveras Big Trees State Park , and I enjoyed it. It wasn’t quite as amazing as Sequoia National Park, but it had the same enormous trees.

Sequoias are redwoods, big in girth and not as tall as the coastal redwoods. Jean and I took the short, supposedly 1 1/2 mile walk around the North Grove. I walk my dog 2 miles about 6 mornings a week, but this walk took twice as long! There was so much to take pictures of. We started at the Discovery Stump and continued past the Three Graces, the Mother and Son, The Abraham Lincoln Tree, and the Old Bachelor. Some of the other visitors were picture worthy too!

Back to the challenge of taking these shots, you can’t get the entire tree in the image, especially with a crop sensor camera. I did try though! Here, take a look.

Still standing: Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park, Folsom

Remember that cold I was complaining about? I still have it! But, at least I’m still standing when so many of my friends have succumbed to the flu. This isn’t a complaint, okay it is! When I’m sick, I can’t regain enough energy to not be tired. And, this affects my ability to do photography.

Before this cold/flu hit the Sacramento area, my Tuesday group was given a special tour of the Historic Folsom Powerhouse in Folsom. This small power source once lit up all of Sacramento. The following from Wikipedia illustrates the  significance of the powerhouse.

“Before the Folsom powerhouse was built nearly all electric power houses were using direct current (DC) generators powered by steam engines located within a very few miles of where the power was needed. The use of rushing water to generate hydroelectric power and then transmitting it long distances to where it could be used was not initially economically feasible as long as the electricity generated was low-voltage direct current. Once it was invented, AC power made it feasible to convert the electrical power to high voltage by using the newly invented transformers and to then economically transmit the power long distances to where it was needed. Lower voltage electrical power, which is much easier and safer to use, could be easily gotten by using transformers to convert the high voltage power to lower voltages near where it was being used. DC power cannot use a transformer to change its voltage. The Folsom Powerhouse, using part of the American River‘s rushing water to power its turbines connected to newly invented AC generators, generated three phase 60 cycle AC electricity (the same that’s used today in the United States) that was boosted by newly invented transformers from 800 volts as generated to 11,000 volts and transmitted to Sacramento over a 22 mi (35 km)-long distribution line, one of the longest electrical distribution lines in the United States at the time.”

The tour was great, especially since it was led by a photographer who has since joined our Tuesday group. While our guide explained the history and how the Powerhouse operated, I listened and continued shooting. Unfortunately, I should have been taking notes!

But since I didn’t, follow the link for more information on the Powerhouse.

We have since been on other outings, and you’ll see those in future posts. Maybe by then the cold will just be a memory and I’ll be out there clicking away.





The long, long, long mile: Big Basin Redwoods State Park

How long does it take three photographers to walk a flat one mile loop through the Redwood Trail at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz County, California? Answer: Almost four hours!

No excuses! It was a beautiful trail through a forest of expressive trees, and there was a lot for me, Marlene and Nicci to shoot.

Coastal redwoods (different from its relative the Sequoia) are found from southern Oregon to central California. Needing the coast weather they extend no more than fifty miles inland. These trees can reach 115 m (377 ft) tall. The bark can be very thick, up to 1-foot , and is soft and fibrous. When freshly exposed there is a bright red-brown color that gets darker as the tree is exposed to the elements. Its roots are shallow, wide-spreading and lateral. Redwoods are naturally resistant to insects, fungi, and fire because they are high in tannin and do not produce resin or pitch.

I remember when my children were young and we camped in a grove of coastal redwoods in Northern California. We went to a campfire program, but I left my flashlight at camp. I was good at walking by starlight, but the forest was so thick, we couldn’t see in front of us. Once I found a family who was walking back to the same campground, we followed them. I’ve never assumed that I could walk via moon and star lights again!

As for what lessons we learned:

  1. Always carry in your tripod. The forest is dark!
  2. Use a fast lens.
  3. Pack a lunch. Don’t count on a fast visit. Fortunately we brought snacks, and the cafe had a limited amount of lunch items.

Take a look at why it took us so long to walk that mile!