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News & Insight

The Giant Sequoia Known as ‘The President’ Finally Gets Its Portrait Taken

By Carsten Krieger on March 22nd 2014

Trees are the longest living entities on our planet and some of them grow to a size that defies all superlatives. The President is one of them. This giant Sequoia, named after president Warren G. Harding, is the 2nd largest tree in the world, is 247 feet high, measures a 27 feet diameter at the base, holds 2 billion needles (I wonder who counted them…), is about 3200 years old and still adds 1 cubic meter of wood every year which makes The President also one of the fastest growing trees on Earth. It’s not surprising it has never been photographed in its entirety… so far.


Climbing The President / Image: Michael Nichols/National Geographic

In mid February 2013, National Geographic photographer Michael “Nick” Nichols and a team of scientists took on the challenge to measure and photograph this giant beauty. It took a intricate network of pulleys, levers and ropes, more than 2 weeks and 126 individual frames to complete what is, in my humble opinion, one of the most impressive tree images ever made. I recently spent 2 years photographing trees in Ireland for the Tree Council of Ireland. So, I know a bit about photographing trees. However, what I did doesn’t compare to this undertaking in the slightest. The photographer’s job on this occasion was to command the operation from the ground, steering cameras and composing the image without a viewfinder in sight. Only on the last day, Michael Nichols climbed The President to say goodbye.

REWIND: A Look Inside National Geographic’s Photo Archive with Archivist Bill Bonner

You can watch the video here:

You can view the final image HERE.

via National Geographic

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Carsten Krieger is a freelance photographer based in Ireland. He is covering a wide range of subjects including architecture/interior, portrait and food (and with a proper supply of of tea and chocolate he is able to shoot about anything), but his true love is landscape photography. He has published and contributed to a number of books on Ireland’s landscape, nature and heritage and has written for various print and online magazines.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Christopher

    @MatthewSaville’s dream! This is such an incredible image

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  2. Brian Stalter

    When they look down towards the ground in the video it makes me a bit queezy… those heights would make me freeze up. Great final product though.

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  3. Pye

    Incredible! Simply amazing.

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