Golden Barrel Thorn-scape

Now that I’ve gotten started, I’m excited with the possibilities offered by the plants right around my house. Bit embarrassed though that I’ve missed these possibilities for over seven years of living here. Guess sometimes it takes a pandemic to help get some new perspective.

This is a golden barrel cactus right outside my front door. They’re rare and endangered in the wild, but you’d never know that from the number in the yards all over Tucson. So it’s maybe easy to take them for granted photographically.

I played with this one a bit in Photoshop to give added contrast and a bit of an Orton effect to the needles.

Specific Feedback Requested

I let the background go pretty dark. It’s essentially textureless. I tried it lighter, but didn’t care for it. You can still see some of the detail in the ribs from which the needles protrude, but is this enough? Has it gone too abstract?

Is this a composite: No

Thanks for the feedback.


Not at all too abstract for me. I do like your processing reducing the cactus to ribs and needles. There is a nice visual tension of the ribs seemingly converging to a point outside the frame. And the needles lining up create additional lines.

I would be tempted to make it even more abstract by cropping out the first rib from the right . Then the first rib in the cropped image is parallel to the frame boundary which creates a flow from right to left of increasingly tilted ribs. Combined with a horizontal flip?

Including more ribs at the right, slightly asymmetrical, could give another more radial flow (and since the cactus is in your garden…).

A simple and strong image.

Hey Tony, I like the repeating pattern of the needles and the contrast makes it more dominate. I can see several crops in the shot that would change the feel but not the dynamic. Well seen and shot.

I love that you decided to use an Orton effect on this excellent image.

What a great image, Tony! The B&W conversion is perfect for this minimalist composition.

Another excellent cactus abstract, Tony. The Orton effect is not really doing it for me, but that is obviously a personal preference. Otherwise, It looks really good. I am quite enjoying your presentations int he cactus series.

Tony: Glad you’re finding some local subjects. Probably 85% of my posts are from our garden so I’m used to working close to home. This is excellent with many cropping options. I like this as is and agree with your thinking regarding the dark BG. Well seen, captured and presented. >=))>

This is gorgeous!! I love the high contrast and the lines. As said above, several crops would work here. I could also see it without the Orton effect – the detail could be mesmerizing. Maybe a focus stack?? You could spend a long time on a cactus series with an amazing portfolio resulting.

Very powerful! I feel movement and dynamism from this picture. I’ve never heard of Orton effect in PS. It sounds very interesting. I’ll give it a try. Thank you, Tony.

This pandemic sure is making us discover new worlds right on our doorstep.
I like the composition and those strong lines created but the thorns (spikes?) i do think that the transition on the ribs is a bit harsh, i would like to see a bit more of the ribs, the image like it is seems to be lighted by a very harsh light source that, somehow, is selective where to shine and only lights the top of the ribs (hope that makes any sense at all :grin: ). Still my eyes wonder on the bases of the thorns and tonse geometrical patterns.
Very compelling abstract, thanks for sharing.