Berry Creek Falls

It’s no big secret that I love being physically active, outdoors, and probably doing something that takes some real effort. Yesterday I joined a group of friends for a long day hike to Berry Creek Falls nestled deep in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. This is one of my very favorite California State Parks not only because it’s historic and stunning, but hey it’s also just a few miles from my home.

Usually when I do this hike I go lightweight and I carry a smaller Canon Rebel XT. That poor little thing finally met its demise late in 2018. We had a good run. I went heavy this time to photograph the falls. When I’m carrying my gear with a plan that means I’m using my 65 liter backpack. I can strap my better tripod to it, carry lunch, plenty of water, a couple of lenses, a warm jacket, emergency gear etc. The weight is just under what I’d carry for a 2 day backpacking trip. This time I used everything but the jacket.

The Artistic Photographs

Berry Creek Falls, Big Basin Redwoods State Park
I had previsualized a few compositions long before starting. I had this low angle long exposure in mind for a few years.

Photographing this waterfall is both easy and difficult. There’s a viewing platform that’s nice and stable. It’s a long day hike to get here and the condition of the trail will vary depending of recent weather and park funding. This can technically be done with a small travel tripod and a reasonable quality camera. The trick is getting here in quality light. If you start hiking around 9 you can expect to arrive about 11 or 12. On a clear day that makes for a high contrast snapshot that’s not especially pleasant to the eye. Today was overcast and about as close to perfect as you can get near noon. One of the fun details is the prisms that occur. I shot this one with my Canon 5d Mk III, a 3-stop ND filter on my favorite Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod.

Hiking snapshots

Hikers on their way to the waterfall

I like to help tell the story of the folks hiking the trail. It’s fun for me, fun for them, and gives everybody a keepsake from the trip.

I try to get out ahead just a little bit to capture images of crossing like this.

Tara led Sunday’s hike. She’s fun, outgoing, energetic, and all around good people. She’s training for the John Muir Trail section of the Pacific Crest Trail which she expects to take 3 weeks.

Tara Magpusao 100% in her element.
Seeing Tara jump for joy isn’t unusual. Capturing it takes a little more effort though.
@misfittany having some fun along the creek

Not everything goes to plan. A few minutes after this this fun snapshot @misfittany slipped and the sole of her boot completely fell apart. This is why I carry so much stuff. Today’s gear to the rescue? The cord I use to hang food up in a tree so the critters don’t get it.

Improvise. She finished the hike without injury.
Group photo courtesy of Rob Cattivera
If you pack in it then please pack it out.
Self portrait at one of the falls a little farther up the trail