Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Plant info

Photographing it

There’s a lot to discover about these rare and endangered trees. The fact that their location is difficult to get to is an advantage for them, though a bit of an inconvenience for us.

Part of our research involves photographing trees in the first stand. And, since they’re in a deep, narrow canyon, this is no mean feat.

Researchers want detailed photographs of physical characteristics like leaves, branches, cones and bark; and they also want a photographic chronicle of the trees’ cone development over time.

For the current studies of the reproductive cycle, our scientists want to see:

  • very fine detail like the early stages of cone development on the tip of a branch
  • a particular branch in relation to other branches nearest it, so its location on the whole tree can be identified.
Over time these photos will allow us to be able to build up a picture of the reproductive cycle, and we’ll be able to determine the number and position of male and female cones produced on each tree from year to year.

If you wish to obtain photographs of the Wollemi Pine for commercial purposes please contact Wildlight Photo Agency, Phone 61 2 9698 8077, Fax 61 2 9698 2067.

Our photographer

Twice a year our photographer loads up his equipment and accompanies the researcher from the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan into the Wollemi National Park.

Once at the site, using ropes to climb down with all the necessary photographic equipment from the top of the canyon to a suitable ledge, the shoot begins.

There is only limited time in the day suitable to take photographs, because the trees are in a narrow shaded canyon. The ideal situation is absolutely still, with no wind, and just slightly overcast, but that doesn’t always happen. There’s a lot of waiting for that precise moment.


Although we’re not taking ‘scenic’ shots, we did need one for a Wollemi Pine poster.

For the poster our photographer used a Linhof 4" x 5" view camera and a 150 mm lens. He wanted the large format to get a crisp and sharp final image, and also because he wasn’t quite sure what size the poster would be.

Most of the photographs are for scientific research and that determines the type of equipment and film. Currently our photographer uses medium format - Mamiya and Arca Swiss camera outfits with lenses ranging from 58 mm to 450 mm. While this outfit is big and slow, the benefit is a larger area of image that needs less enlargement at the scanning stage. We need to be able to scan between 40 x 30 cm to 40 x 50 cm to view useful details. For 35 mm photographs, he uses Leica and Nikon camera outfits with lenses ranging from 20 mm to 200 mm. 

Photographing the Wollemi Pines
Our photographer, Jaime Plaza, photographing the Wollemi Pines. Notice the sharp drop of the cliff, and the rope securing Jaime!