Memorial Park, California is a special place, both in its own right and for me personally. And, being that we approach another new and brief year, what better place to stop than somewhere timeless. On California’s Highway One, Memorial Park is an easy to access yet quaint alternative to Sequoia National Forest. Nothing can compare with the majesty of those giant Sequoias, but here a small pocket of them have taken up root. I’ve visited this wooded area on two occasions with my wife, the most recent also with my children. There is a myth, based on our misconceived metaphors and language, which causes us to speak of empty pockets, of niches, which various species “fill” in the natural world. This is hardly the case. It would be more accurate to say that organisms themselves transform the natural world to suit their needs. A wonderfully concise work on this topic, The Triple Helix, by Richard Lewontin, argues this point quite well. Yet we don’t have to read a book to discover this fact. Memorial Park is that fact. The moment you arrive at the edge of this region, you notice a drop in temperature. The moisture in the air increases. The hard light of the California sun decreases and the soft light of a different world emerges. It is no mystery to me that these Sequoias can live in the midst of such a dry California climate. They modify it. There is a qualitative difference, a calm mood, about the place. It is, simply put, different. And they are the cause of that difference.
Steinbeck writes of them in Travels with Charley much the same:
No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe… They carry their own light and shade.
Memorial Park For The First Time
I do not actually know if my first time to Memorial Park is my first time. I have this strange memory of the park from when I was a child. My parents and my aunt claim we never went there, but on my first visit to the place (in 2005), in both arriving and leaving, I recognized several of its unique places and spaces. I recalled rather abruptly a scene of driving through that very same forested area, in the back seat of what I think was the memory of my grandmother’s Chevy Nova. A strange feeling to be both familiar and unacquainted with a place. For that reason alone, it stands quite vivid in my mind as unique. It is one of my places. I hope it is maintained and treated well.
This is my sixth collection of images dedicated to California. Each of these is distinct and worth a view. See the others here:
The Memorial Park Series
This series was edited using VSCOcam, using the A10 preset in order to bring out the warm natural hues of the set of images, while bringing them together as a whole. The preset also added to the deep, rich brown of the shadows. The contrasts in light and dark were tough on the sensor, and so, a number of images have blown out and overexposed portions, typical of smartphone imagery. I used the color highlights feature, using orange/cream at about 2 to 3 points on various of the images to reduce this blown out look and bring in some additional warmth. In some cases I sharpened images. Otherwise I left them as they were compositionally. I found myself leaving my preference in landscape behind, moving toward portrait format in the presence of many a majestic tree. Some of these required a panorama, that arched up and up, and even over and back down again. The panoramas used Google Camera, which allows for both vertical and horizontal panoramas. You can see more of my VSCOcam images on my grid, mobilography.vsco.co.
Memorial Park Panoramas