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How do you photograph a 300′ tall tree in a dense forest with no clear sight lines? Wildlife photographer Michael Nichols did it by taking a bunch of close-ups using a special camera rig and stitching them together digitally. NPR has the full story. [via Hack-a-Day]

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.



  1. nprnncbl says:

    Also see James Balog, who did this several years ago. Balog’s tree portraits are fantastic, and I like how his images preserve the mosaic of photos, rather than digitally blending them all together.

  2. Timm Murray says:

    Great pictures, but what are the helmets for? If you’re going to fall from a tree like that, you’re pretty much screwed anyway after the first 20 feet or so.

    1. dokein says:

      Helmets are helpful if the folks climbing a couple hundred feet above you happen to drop something, dislodge debris, etc.

  3. Jeff Rogers says:

    Yeah, this photo is a complete knock-off of James Balog’s work, but the saying applies, “often imitated, never duplicated.” James’s photos of the redwoods are far better than this nick nichols shot. I just don’t know how he could steal the same idea.

    1. Apis says:

      Ideas are seldom (if ever) unique. It’s quite possible to get the same or similar idea independently of someone else.

      Just look at how many of the Nobel prices that are shared because different people have made the same discoveries independently at the same time around the globe.

      A mosaic of a tree isn’t an all that spectacular idea, even if the results are.

  4. M. D. Vaden of Oregon says:

    The Balog images are not really better than the Nichols one, and Balog used an established method too. Either way, both are fine, and I’d like to get prints from both men’s work someday when I move my office to a bigger space. The challenging part in this work is the access, weather and light. Most photographers have their hands full trying to get just one good image of part of a redwood. Let alone dozens of images. The redwood in the Nat Geo magazine only provides a lower trunk shot from the ground. The branching of the stems seen in the image is not visible from anywhere on the forest floor.


    M. D. Vaden of Oregon