Pando Photographic Survey

Common Questions About the World's
Largest Picture of Tree

Updated: March 25, 2023


The Pando Photographic Survey documents Pando, the world’s largest tree which spans 106-acres of the Fishlake Basin in the Fishlake National Forest.


Although 180-degree and 360-degree photography have been around for nearly 170 years, they have never been used in this way nor, on the scale this project required, making this effort a first of it’s kind endeavor and, the most comprehensive record of this botanical wonder ever created.


Below is a list of commonly asked questions and answers about the project with links to places to get answers about the tree.


Why was taking a picture of Pando so important?

Pando re-defines what we think a “tree” can be. The tree is made up of 47,000 branches which spread across 106 acres and weight 13.2 Million pounds. Its is the largest tree by weight, by land mass and species. This makes it the largest tree in the world across multiple measures. A recent discovery, the tree had never been fully documented but this was needed as we know very little about the tree.

What use is a picture of tree?

Pando’s remote homeland in the high wild of south-central Utah are hard to reach for most, while conducting field work in the tree is expensive and time consuming process.



More than a picture of the tree, the effort documents the tree in a highly organized way so that each image can be replicated over time. This allows land managers, scientists and the general public a way to: 



1. Study the tree wherever they are in the world just like they were standing there
2. Replicated results so we can observe how the tree changes over time
3. Make the tree accessible to many who would not be able to experience the tree otherwise
4. Can serve as a way to promote awareness and shared understanding of the tree
5. Can serve as a record for generation to come as it provides a “baseline” or first image, which can replicated by any one on on scale

What is a Photographic Survey?

A photographic survey is a methodical way to document natural subjects for review and study. This survey is a baseline re-photography project, the first record. It provides a map, the images and location data which others can then use replicate the result to observe the tree over time.

Why did you shoot it in 360 instead of 2-D?

Pando is so big, that using 360-degree cameras was actually easier than taking 2D images. A few weeks versus a few years just to capture. For example, if we had created the record in 2D, it would taken over 51,500 images and an estimated 2 years of human hours to docuemnt. Using 360-degree cameras, we could just take 8,593 single images. 360-degree also provides a way to experience the tree in immersive detail which 2D images could not readily allow.

Why didn't you just just use a Satellite or a Drone?

Pando is big. 106 US Football fields! The canopy is so large and dense, it hard to see down to the ground level where information about how the tree works can be documented.

What is 360-degree photography? Is that the same as panorama?

No. Panoramas capture your view when looking straight ahead with your camera, then turning around on the horizontal axis. In contrast, a 360° photo captures the horizontal and vertical axis both, in one shot. 

Do I need special softare to view the images?

No. You can view 360-degree images here on the site.

If you like, you can also download data sets, and view the images on your device/s using the following freely available software

For Desktop

Mobile and Tablets

  • 360 files will open on most phones without need for special software

VR Headsets
All Virtual Reality Headsets can view 360-images like we provide including.

  • Quest (All Models)
  • Vive (All Models)
  • Pico
You say it's in 360-degrees, does that mean virtual reality?

No. Although the project was shot using equipment used in virtual reality films, the individual images are simply still images you can view with most any device.

Is 360-degree just like a 3D movie?

No. 3D images are know as stereoscopic, but creating 3D film and 3D stills involves different processes. In order to create stereoscopic still photograph, subjects have to remain still. Pando is never still, so we shot it in monoscopic to ensure quality and detail in the images for scientific study.

This seems like a lot of work, how did you do it?

We created a map of all the locations in the tree (The Baseline Map). Then, a surveyor would locate that place and a camera operator would take the picture the surveyor marked. For a more detailed review of how we did it, visit and read our review of the Methods.

You say you documented the whole tree, where are all the images?

The image is massive. It takes about a month to process each 20% of the record. We will release a new part of the record as we work along throughout the year.

Is this the largest picture ever taken?

No. But is the largest picture ever taken of a tree because Pando’s is the world’s largest tree. For data nerds, the total image pixel dimensions is around 51 Gigapixels.

I want to use the data for research, who do I contact?

Friends of Pando practices Open Science. Processed images, RAW images,  maps, shape files and methods are all made freely available use in research (with attribution) and non-commercial personal use.

I'm having problem with the data, who can I ask for help

Please use our Contact Page to drop us a line and detail the problem you are having.

Friends of Pando is dedicated and working to educate the public, support research and preservation efforts and inspire stewardship of Pando, the world’s largest tree.


Friends of Pando is a proud partner of Pando’s public land stewards, Fishlake National Forest of the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture. Learn more about our partnership.


Friends of Pando and its partners are equal opportunity employers.


Just $14 a month supports work to ensure Pando can be enjoyed for generations to come. Make a one-time or, recurring tax deductible donation today.

Friends of Pando
PO Box 12
Richfield, UT, 84701
Phone: 435-633-1893
IRS EIN: 87-3958681