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A crested saguaro signals that all is well despite its bizarre appearance. Tucson, Arizona.


As mentioned in an earlier post, last month I spent a few hours exploring the Painted Hill Trail in Tucson, Arizona. In that post, I alluded to a bizarre crested saguaro—well, this is it.

Having found this beastly oddity, the only real challenge was finding the right angle. Since I did not have my 85mm tilt-shift lens with me, I was pretty much forced into shooting square-on from this side or the opposite. On this day I had brought my fast 85mm f/1.8 lens rather than the usual tilt-shift because I had been in the mood to try some shallow depth-of-field landscapes. I did try shooting at f/1.8, but since I had to look slightly up at the cactus, the top ended up out of focus and so I in the end I settled on f/5.6. Fortunately, the cactuses in the background were far enough back that they ended up recognizable but nicely blurred.


A picture like this scores some points just due to sheer novelty, but compositionally it has some good things going for it, too. The color palette is largely a simple green on blue scheme. The sharp cactus itself has a lot of interesting detail in the form of spines and grooves that contrasts nicely with the soft background. The few (normal!) cactus on the left edge of the frame contrast nicely with this strange one.


This image is a single exposure. Other than some slight color adjustments and sharpening, the only post-processing was to clone out a few distracting dark bits of junk that were stuck in the cactus spines.

Technical Data

Nikon Z7 with Nikon 85mm f/1.8G, 1/100 sec, f/5.6, ISO 72.