Sundial Bridge, Redding California

I climbed, hiked, bled (it was only a scratch), and nearly swam for this photograph. I’ve seen a few compositions of the bridge before from angles like this and have always wondered how people got them. I’ve really wanted to get one of my own after seeing awesome shots like it so I determined I wouldn’t be happy until I figured out for myself how to get there and get the shot. After a few days of walking trails and looking at google maps I finally figured out the right location so yesterday afternoon I took a shot at it. With camera and tripod in tow I leave the van and set out. I should have known how things would go when midway to where I thought I was going I realized I forgot my phone. No worries though, this won’t take very long, right?

Wrong. After following the River Trail as far as it will take me and going off road for a bit I arrived at the shoreline area. I’m still not close enough so a pleasant stroll over half a million rocks is in order. Finally I get where I think I’m supposed to be, set the bag and tripod down, then I turn around and start looking for compositions. It didn’t take long to realize this wasn’t my spot either. All I can see from here is the river with some tall bushes on the other side and the Sundial’s spire poking out from the top. At this point I probably should have gone back to the car and called it a day but I was fairly pissed and wasn’t coming home without my shot. From where I was I spotted a hint of a trail that continued on so leaving common sense behind I took the trail.

Making my way through blackberry bushes that were taller than I was, hiking over rocks that were loose from erosion, and at one point almost falling in the river, I finally arrived. I quickly unpacked got everything set and realized I had a few problems. First was that I had neglected to bring any filters with me. Long exposures are out so now I’m forced to bracket which means taking multiple photos in succession and blending them together in photoshop. I’m still a ways off so going wide angle isn’t an option so I hook up my 70-200. After rummaging around in my bag I realize I’ve forgotten my tripod attachment for the lens so now I’m forced to mount the camera to the tripod and hand hold the lens so it doesn’t shift midway through the photo. I left VR on so I would at least have a chance at getting a usable photo.

After about fifteen minutes I realize I have to hurry because I’m going to be late getting back to work. Awesome. On the way back I also lost the trail I followed and briefly attempted to make my own through some very stubborn blackberry bushes. Blackberries: 1 Robert: 0. After picking the trail back up and running back to the car I got the best stares from people. It took a second to realize I had blackberry stickers and leaves and everything all over me. I was a mess but it was worth it to scratch one photo off my list of shots to get.

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Have camera, will travel.
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3 Responses

  1. Rob, thank you so much for going through all you did – and blackberries – to capture this incredible photo! It's beautiful! (And you, my friend, are tenacious!)