Widow Makers



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The branches of dead or dying pine trees often form symmetrical, almost-abstract patterns. Such large, dead hanging branches are sometimes called widow makers, named for the potentially-fatal result of having one break off while you are under it! Camping tip: Never pitch your tent under such a tree. Even if a falling branch misses you, it might not miss your tent -- these branches can also be window makers!


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In this photo, we see sobering evidence of the destructive power of falling branches! This colossal branch, about 5 feet in diameter and no doubt weighing several tons, broke off of the giant sequoia known as the General Sherman Tree in a wind storm in January 2006 (6 months before this photo was taken). The General Sherman, more than 2000 years old, is the largest tree on earth (by volume). The branch fell from a height of approximately 200 feet -- even though there was reportedly 6 feet of snow on the ground at the time, the impact destroyed a section of the wooden fence and asphalt walkway surrounding the tree!


1st photo:
Date: July 1, 2006
Time: 7:14 p.m. PDT
Location: Whispering Pines Nature Trail, San Bernardino National Forest, California
Camera: Kodak Z650 Zoom Digital
ISO setting: 80
Focal length: 19 mm
Aperture: f/3.2
Exposure time: 1/125 second

2nd photo:
Date: July 2, 2006
Time: 7:02 p.m. PDT
Location: Moro Rock Trail, Sequoia National Park, California
Camera: Kodak Z650 Zoom Digital
ISO setting: 80
Focal length: 21 mm
Aperture: f/3.2
Exposure time: 1/250 second

3rd photo:
Date: July 3, 2006
Time: 2:21 p.m. PDT
Location: Sequoia National Park, California
Camera: Kodak Z650 Zoom Digital
ISO setting: 80
Focal length: 6 mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Exposure time: 1/50 second


Revised: August 26, 2006
Copyright © 2006 Joe Orman
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