Nature Friendly: How to shoot a redwood
by Carol Carson
Jul 03, 2014 | 1482 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Fawn_buck1JF7-4-14 (6-1-14) Spotted fawn meets young buck
Fawn_buck1JF7-4-14 (6-1-14) Spotted fawn meets young buck
When Jodie Frediani’s father gave her a Brownie camera at age 12, neither one could have imagined that the gift would lead to a life-long romance with photography.

From there, she received a degree in art and photography at UC Santa Cruz and a degree in a one-year graduate program in photography. Frediani’s photography has taken her all over the world — Africa, Brazil, and Antarctica.

Her favorite destination, though, is in the Silver Bank off the Dominican Republic, shooting pictures underwater as she swims with humpback whales.

With nature photography, Frediani said she can unite her life-long interests in art, biology, and animals.

“You have to learn animal behavior so you can predict what your subject will likely do next,” she said. “It takes quick reflexes, so you need to know your gear so well that you can enjoy the spontaneity of the moment.

“Learning animal behavior so you can predict what they are liable to do next, quick reflexes, enjoys the spontaneity and the personality of the animal. When you capture the personality of the animal, people are drawn in.”

On our next watershed nature walk on July 12, Frediani will explore the secrets to shooting the large old trees at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, which she says are very “different.”

“They’ve got tremendous character, some have twisted bark and some have amazing limbs and cavities,” Frediani said. “So we’ll find ways to photograph their beauty.”

We will be spontaneous to whatever captures our interests — deer or people perhaps.

“People give us a sense of scale and help tell a story,” the photographer says.

Frediani is an expert on the world’s tallest trees and has worked for the 35 years to protect redwoods, learning about forest ecology, biology, and history.

She served as the local Sierra Club’s Chair of the Forestry Task Force for 25 years.

Currently an environmental forestry consultant and director of the Central Coast Forest Watch, she receives grants to stop clear cutting in the Sierra Nevada, review timber harvest plans, provide educational information to the public, and work on rulemaking at the Board of Forestry.

After many years of uncovering animal tracks — like mountain lion, coyotes, and foxes — on her road in Bonny Doon, Frediani said she recently installed a wildlife camera with a motion sensor.

Not only has the camera caught an influx of foxes lately, she said, but it depicts the difference in prey and predator behavior.

Predators, like foxes, are intrigued by the new machine with the red light and stare into it, taking a “front-on selfie,” Frediani says. Prey, such as deer, are afraid of changes in their habitat and run away from the red light.

During our walk, we will see pictures of the nocturnal animals the camera has caught and discuss how you can set up one on your property.

Frediani has shot all the marine life in Monterey Bay. In fact, out of the thousands of animal pictures she has taken around the world, her favorite was an orca whale off Monterey which she caught tossing

a common dolphin through the air.

“It’s such a rare event and it took place so rapidly. I had taken five exposures in a second and then it was over,” she said. “The passengers on the boat knew that the whales were hunting something and then suddenly a female had a huge tail slap.

“Whales are underwater most of the time and then a moment later she popped up. Here was this dolphin, and she smacked it into the air, tossed it and spinned it, and when it came down her offspring had a meal.”

The photo was published by the Santa Cruz Sentinel,, twice in the UK, and Brazil.

Next summer, the Bonny Doon resident said she plans to go to Alaska to photograph humpback whales “bubble net feeding.”

They cooperate to blow a circle of bubbles around a school of fish. Then they lunge up to the surface with open mouths. Sushi time.

For our walk, participants can bring any kind of camera they have.

“People are doing amazing things with cell phones.” Frediani says, though she added that she might not be able to provide much guidance on smart phones since she does not have one.

“I would recommend, that because these trees are so large, bring a wide angle lens if you have one,” she said. “Bring your manual if you’re not very familiar with your camera.”

Frediani and I will be leading the nature photography walk at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 12, at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.

The walk is free and sponsored by a grant from the San Lorenzo Water District. For more information, contact me at

Jodi Frediani's nature portraits can be found at

- Carol Carson is a writer and Certified California State Master Naturalist.

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