Capturing the Second Largest Tree in the World in a Single Image

For a recent National Geographic story on giant sequoia trees, photographer Michael “Nick” Nichols was tasked with capturing a photograph showing the sheer size of one of the largest trees in the world. The video above offers a short but interesting glimpse into how Nichols and his team went about doing so.

The giant sequoia that was photographed is named “The President” and is located in Giant Forest of California’s Sequoia National Park.

Scientists estimate that the 247-foot-tall tree is at least 3,200 years old (imagine how much has happened here on Earth since this tree started growing!) and that it’s the second largest tree in the world in terms of volume (it’s neither the tallest nor the widest).

Nichols went about photographing it by hoisting a camera rig up into the air from a good distance away, snapping individual photos of smaller sections of the tree.


Afterward, he took 126 of the photographs and combined them into this beautiful composite photograph showing the tree in its entirety and showing exactly how large it is in relation to humans (click it to see a higher-res version):


You can read the National Geographic piece here, and find more of Nichols’ photos of the tree here. If you want to watch a more in-depth video of this particular photo shoot, pick up a December digital edition of National Geographic magazine.

(via National Geographic via NPR)

Image credits: Video and photographs by Michael Nichols/National Geographic

  • Tracy Nanthavongsa

    Mother nature is just beautiful

  • posesawkwardly

    Love that tree. Nothing like the Sierra Nevada mountains in winter. Great composite, too!

  • Scott

    Why is the guy on top so much larger than the guy on the ground? The way the photos appear to be taken, it would seem the proportion would be the same at the top as at the bottom.

  • russianbox

    seen all the repeating tree texture in the background, bottom left.

    some bad shopping. still cool tree/pic

  • MD

    I saw a documentary a few years back about Nichols making a similar shot of another Redwood in California; that one also came as a fold-out in NatGeo. It had the same weird Photoshop blunders as this one.

    I won’t pretend to know the difficulties associated with a project like this, but I figured if anyone would get it right, it would be National Geographic. Strange…

  • michaelp42

    Either the man at the top is a giant and the guy at the bottom a midget or something very wrong is happening here.

  • Paul Richardson

    They did exactly the same thing about 2 years ago. same photo on the front page too (albeit it wasn’t in the snow)

  • Typical PetaPixel User

    Ha Ha! Another fake and bad photoshop job.
    I can’t believe anybody thinks this is real. LOL!

  • RC

    Nat Geo posted on their site that “The figure at top seems taller than the other climbers because he’s standing forward on one of the great limbs.”

  • MD

    I don’t have a problem with the scale weirdness, I just can’t stand bad cloning. Look at the bottom left corner.

    But when the cloning is that bad, it makes you wonder about the rest of the ‘shopping, and kinda pokes a few holes in the “standing forward on a great limb” explanation.

  • JJ

    It might have to do with the fact that its a composited image. NG holds itself to some high standards with photoshop and manipulation in regards to the truth in an image. Maybe they’re just allowing the ‘mistakes’ of the process to be revealed as long as the main focus, the tree, looks right.

  • J

    You’re a complete dumbshit.

  • Mike

    You got trolled, son.

  • Albi Kl

    I was about to down vote then I saw your name. Almost had me there.

  • Urs

    Even if I don’t think that, as others have mentioned, this is a true-to-life image/recording, …awesome. Whoah.

  • Dave Jerrard

    There is no repeating texture there. Look again, this time more closely.

    This image is made of 126 photos stitched together, taken from a good distance up a neighboring tree, which means the top of this tree is closer to the camera than the bottom. Since it’s such a wide field of view, you get that exaggerated perspective.Do a reverse image search on this and you’ll find several articles, and videos, that show how it was done.

  • Jose Escobar

    How’d they count the leaves? cray.

  • Craig Oesterling

    Please tell me they’re planning on doing a life-size building mural on a skyscraper in NYC with this image!