Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 40

Thread: Could a Large Format Redwood Tree Portrait compete with National Geographic's photo?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Santa Rosa, CA USA
    Posts
    12

    Could a Large Format Redwood Tree Portrait compete with National Geographic's photo?

    Hello All,

    I'm a newbie interested in finding out if it is possible to take full sized redwood tree portraits using large format that are somewhere near the quality of the photo that Michael Nichols achieved for National Geographic. See: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/re...gatefold-image. Mr. Nichols ran an array of DSLRs along a vertical tramway in front of a tall redwood tree and shot over 80 images to stitch together to form his portrait. I would like to try to photograph an entire 300' -380' tall tree without having to get either me or my camera way up in the air.

    I imagine that it might be possible to use a long, large format lens with a large image circle to create a number of distant shots to stitch into a vertical panorama shot without perspective problems. Naturally this would require an unobstructed view of the redwood tree from quite a long distance. This would certainly limit, but I don't think it would eliminate, possible subjects.

    Can this type of image be made using large format, and if so how?

  2. #2

    Re: Could a Large Format Redwood Tree Portrait compete with National Geographic's pho

    "I'm a newbie interested in finding out if it is possible to take full sized redwood tree portraits using large format that are somewhere near the quality of the photo that Michael Nichols achieved for National Geographic."

    they did that a century ago with 'sky-scraper' cameras, should not be too hard to duplicate today.

    Front rise introduces diverging verticals, looming, mushroom head
    tilting the camera introduce converging verticals, falling, pin-head
    using half of each would cancel themselves to parallel verticals.
    the only problem is to move far enough back to avoid an enlarged center, cigar shaped.
    Move back as far as the tree is tall, farther would be better.

  3. #3
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
    Location
    Everett, WA
    Posts
    2,961

    Re: Could a Large Format Redwood Tree Portrait compete with National Geographic's pho

    Folmer & Schwing Mfg. Co., Sky Scraper Camera, Improved

    Looks like the lens on that is a Wollensak 6-1/4 inch (159mm) lens. The "Sky Scraper" had a lot of front rise to it, but I don't see a mention of how much rise. The previous version looks like it had about four inches, using an additional board at the base.

    The Wollensak wide angle lens shown there does not have a lot of room for movement. (I have one.)

    So there you have it: use a wide-angle lens with a lot of coverage, and you'll need a lot of rise.

    (Actually, just about any monorail, and a good number of field cameras, can do this. It's not that special now, not like it was in 1903.)
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  4. #4
    dperez's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Santa Ana, CA USA
    Posts
    589

    Re: Could a Large Format Redwood Tree Portrait compete with National Geographic's pho

    Sure, you could use the exact same method with the rail tramway, but use a large format camera instead, and then stitch the images together. Check out Jeff Liao's work in Habitat 7, which used multiple 8x10 exposures that were stitched together.

    -

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Location
    Baraboo, Wisconsin
    Posts
    7,695

    Re: Could a Large Format Redwood Tree Portrait compete with National Geographic's pho

    I've photographed quite a bit in the redwoods around Crescent City, CA. I don't see how you could get far enough away from the tree to make that kind of photograph without getting up in the air, which you say you don't want to do. I'm sure I've missed some but the groves I've been in have been pretty dense.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA
    Posts
    5,773

    Re: Could a Large Format Redwood Tree Portrait compete with National Geographic's pho

    Probably not. However if you could get to the 100 foot level and then use rise you could probably achieve something similar. Or pick a tree that allows you to back up so that an 80 degree lens can capture it. OTOH what they accomplished is a nice scientific document, but it isn't art. Who could stand to look at the mess they made out of the tree trunk off to the right.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep..to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

  7. #7
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
    Location
    Everett, WA
    Posts
    2,961

    Re: Could a Large Format Redwood Tree Portrait compete with National Geographic's pho

    You'd need something like the Rodenstock Grandagon N 200mm. It has a 495mm image circle, so you'd get nearly four inches of rise from it on 8x10 on the long side. So, yeah, photographing a redwood in one shot is possible, but not arbitrarily just any redwood tree.
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Santa Rosa, CA USA
    Posts
    12

    Re: Could a Large Format Redwood Tree Portrait compete with National Geographic's pho

    Thank you all for your replies.

    I thought that there would be limited opportunities to make complete portrait photographs of tall redwoods using a large format camera and vertical shifts, but I still have not found any images that I know were made that way. The only full portrait redwood photos I have found were stitches of many DSLR photos by either Michael Nichols or James Balog. I would really like to see some photos made with roughly this approach if anyone knows where these images are lurking.

    The specific approach that I imagine is to use a long (360mm - 480mm) large format lens with a very wide image circle on a 5X7 field camera with generous vertical shifts available to make two vertical shots to be stitched together. The tree would need to be quite distant, on the other side of a river, or across a long clearing. Among the many things that I don't know is whether there would be sufficient DOF with such long lenses to to keep both the trunk and the branches sharp.

    Those of you that have suggested lens sizes have recommended lenses in the 150mm to 200mm range. Why do lenses in this normal to mildly telephoto range seem like the correct approach to those of you recommending them?

    Thanks again.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Posts
    8,187

    Re: Could a Large Format Redwood Tree Portrait compete with National Geographic's pho

    The Grizzly Giant in Mariposa Grove has been shot full length many times. Also Sequoia NP has opportunities near the General Sherman, which has a steep mountianside staircase allowing you enough elevation to tackle nieghboring redwoods.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA
    Posts
    5,773

    Re: Could a Large Format Redwood Tree Portrait compete with National Geographic's pho

    If $$$$$ were no object, ie. you had a pac fund to spend wildly from, I'd look into having Richard Ritter build you one of his 8X20's with the vertical back option. That would get you very near the 6.5:20 ratio of the image you've shown. Then I'd buy the Schneider ULF 550mm lens and start doing the math to see exactly how far back and how high you'd need to be to duplicate the image. Once done it would certainly beat the digi version.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep..to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

Similar Threads

  1. National Geographic May 2011
    By Brad Rippe in forum Announcements
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 29-Apr-2011, 20:47
  2. Redwood National Park area
    By cmmatthews in forum Location & Travel
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 7-Sep-2010, 20:54
  3. LF in National Geographic
    By aduncanson in forum On Photography
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 26-Oct-2008, 16:08
  4. More LF in National Geographic
    By Alex Hawley in forum On Photography
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 29-Nov-2004, 11:51
  5. Redwood National Park and Rhodies
    By Randy Redford in forum Location & Travel
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 1-Jan-2004, 15:02

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •