WPY 2013

Photograph Details

Winner 2013

Botanical Realms

Michael 'Nick' Nichols, USA

The President's crown

Nick's goal was to create an image that would pay homage to the grandeur of the President. This giant sequoia, 3,200 years old and growing ever larger in California's Sequoia National Park, is not the tallest tree on Earth. Nor is it the widest or the bulkiest. Its trunk, though a massive eight metres in diameter, is smaller than that of the largest tree, the General Sherman redwood. But the President has a crown larger than the Sherman's and carries a load of some two billion leaves, more than any other tree. On top of that, for seven months of the year, it carries a huge weight of snow. What Nick aimed to do was show the tree as it couldn't possibly be seen from the ground, where 'you have no idea of the majesty.' To photograph the breadth and height of this giant involved a complicated pulley system rigged up in a neighbouring giant, three cameras, pictures taken in tandem at set intervals from top to bottom, and a complex computer exercise stitching together the final mosaic of 126 images. What makes the red figure at the top seem taller than the one at the bottom is the fact that he's standing forward on one of the tree's mighty limbs. 'I chose to shoot it in February, praying for big snowflakes,' says Nick. 'And that's exactly what nature gave us, plus 10 feet of fresh snow. When people see the tree in its totality, they get it - they gasp.'

Technical specification

Three Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III + three 35mm f1.4 lenses; 1/350-1/1000 sec; ISO 200.


Sequoia National Park, California, USA: latitude 36.4864, longitude -118.566 Sequoia National Park, California, USA: latitude 36.4864, longitude -118.566

Sequoia National Park, California, USA

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Michael 'Nick' Nichols, USA

Nick is a photographic artist and journalist who uses his skills to tell stories about environmental issues and our relationship with wildlife. His career, much of it with National Geographic, spans more than 35 years and his work has been published in numerous books and magazines. The mass of accolades he has received reflects the international reputation he has earned.

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