Editor’s Note
December 2012
The Snow Tree

It’s practically a given among photographers that bad weather makes a better picture. It adds mood, nuance, and sometimes, mystery. In the case of the 3,200-year-old, 247-foot-tall sequoia known as the President—the centerpiece of our cover story on giant sequoias—it also added challenges and a few headaches.

Team members Jim Campbell Spickler (left) and Giacomo Renzullo stretch while working on the tree.
Photo: Michael Nichols,
NGM Staff

The image of the snow-covered sequoia is a cousin of the photo of a 300-foot-high redwood tree on the foldout poster we ran in our October 2009 issue. It’s a testimony to the passion of Michael (Nick) Nichols, who made both images, that no sooner had he finished photographing the redwood than he started wondering, What next?

We wanted a different look this time, and the sequoia provided the platform. The stakes were raised. Nick planned to shoot in a blizzard. He envisioned a veil of white snowflakes softening the image of the tree.

Easier said than done. Every morning for 17 days, the team made a 45-minute trek to the site on snowshoes. Gear, including two heavy-duty batteries for power, had to be dragged in on sleds. The cold and wet caused technical difficulties. Picturesque snow sometimes turned to dreary rain. Still, Nick and his team succeeded.

“I wanted to honor the tree,” he said.

He has.

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