"the redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. no one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. the feeling they produce is not transferable. from them comes silence and awe. it’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes. no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time."
so wrote john steinbeck. but it was photographer michael nichols’ ambition to attempt such a photograph, an ambition finally made feasible given current equipment. so over a period of nineteen days, nichols took 84 separate photographs, each of which needed over an hour to complete, to capture this (at least) 1500 year old and 300 feet tall giant redwood in california’s prairie creek redwoods state park. the resultant stitched image stands 18 meters tall (click to see it displayed).
coast redwoods house a complex ecosystem - with dense mats of soil (up to three feet thick) on the tree’s limbs and trunk folds supporting ferns, confiers and berry bushes - and this particular redwood has the most complex crown ever mapped by scientists. but as one of the most valuable timber species in the lumber industry, 90 to 98% of old growth redwood forest has now been felled.