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Impossible Cactus

Discussion in 'Macro, Flowers, Insects, and Greenery' started by manzico, Mar 17, 2018.

  1. I've had this idea for a photo project for a while and I did my first test session today out in the back yard. There are two ways I want to end up doing this, one with natural light and one with some more controlled flash/umbrella combos. This one is with natural light. It's still in the experimental phase though. I give you the impossible cactus:

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    I'll let you post in the comments what you think it is that makes it impossible.

    The next few runs will be more balanced and may have some cool lighting options as well. Anyway, can't wait to see your guesses, I'm sure someone will get it soon enough.


  2. I don't know why you call it impossible. Are you referring to the fact that you appear to have flattened a curved surface?

    If I were shooting it I'd use a portrait orientation. I would want to see the whole cactus before deciding exactly how to compose it, though.

    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
  3. I don't know enough about cacti to have any idea about what would be impossible about the photo; it appears perfectly natural to me.
  4. Good eye Larry,

    I didn't so much flatten it as unwrap it. That's about 270 degrees around one saguaro cactus. I couldn't go all the way around because the way was blocked in one direction. The saguaros have this great texture to them, but you only get it from an angle, the goal was to unwrap it and get more of that surface in the image.

    Technically it was shot in portrait mode, but it was actually 16 photos and then they were each stitched together manually (panoroama stitching software doesn't know what to do with images taken pointing inward toward the surface of a cylindrical object). Since the surface curves away from you only the middle vertical strip of each image is usable as the perspective for the sides of the image don't match the intended look at the subject (and in fact don't overlap well in a panorama mode thus confusing the software. As for seeing the whole cactus, this is a pretty young, small saguaro, only about 10 feet tall and with no arms. It pretty much looks like this, only not as tall:

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    In fact the cactus in the B&W photo is one that I plan on doing this process on because I know I have 360 degree access to.

    I may end up doing a vertical stack as well as the horizontal panorama to get more of the surface in the image, but that will have to wait until the next attempt.


  5. Mike,

    I figured that a lot of people would think that. Until I lived out here in the desert I would have said the same thing. Now, having lived with these cacti, it looks totally off (in a cool way) when I look at it. There's no way you get that many ribs of a cactus on that flat of a surface.

  6. Now that I realize it's a Saguaro, if I had known that even I would have realized the impossibility of your first photo. I agree that it could be a lot of fun using artificial light to create shadows going in the same direction regardless of which part of the cactus is being photographed.
  7. For those not familiar with the Saguaro cacti, I seem to remember that they become about 75 years old before the first arm forms.
  8. Mike,

    That is exactly my plan. I'm going to rotate the tripod position and lighting around it together to get the same lighting throughout.


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