Santa Rita Bud-scape

This cactus is across the street at the end of my driveway. I’ve been enjoying it for several years, and finally decided to photograph it. This is a Santa Rita Prickly Pear (Opuntia violacea). It has these blue and purple pads, which, in the spring, get these green and red buds that eventually produce yellow flowers. This was taken a couple of weeks before any flowers appeared. Some of the buds are just starting to come out (the smaller red ones).

This is another sketch-o-graph that combines a sketch action with luminosity masks. The result is some (overly) even light and color, which is sort of the hallmark of this method.

Specific Feedback Requested

Does it still look photographic? That’s one of my goals. I like to experiment with different techniques, but I also want people to think it did indeed start from a photograph.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
This is a focus blend of six or seven exposures.


Very unique, Tony. We live in the Texas hill country and have not seen a cacti with these wonderful colors. For me, yes it does still look like a photo. I’m going to do my own experimenting with this technique. Is it an action? And/or do you have some controls on the amount of sketching, etc.? Love the idea, very nicely seen and executed.

Oooh, l love the color - both the overall colors and the gradations of purple to blue in the pads. It does look like a photo, but I can sense some kind of “odd” processing (odd to me, that is). Is the sketch action in your latest panels?

Thanks for sharing, Tony. I really like the colors and the buds . The composition draws the eye to it.
Great shot.

I am really impressed with this Tony! The detail and overall smoothness of color is so different. I will have to look into this process future. Outstanding and thanks for sharing. Larry

This SO works for me! Yes, it looks like a photograph – a bloody excellent one!! It makes me scratch my head and wonder how such a wonderful result was achieved, but there is nothing suspicious about it – just amazing!

I love the fine detail and the reds and yellows against the purples and blues!

Another excellent image in your series of cacti. Beautiful color palette.

Tony, this is spectacular, with the subtle purple in the pads and all of those buds “roaming” the frame. The contrast between the buds and the pads really lets the buds stand out.

It does look photographic to me. The contrasting colors, textures, and shapes make for a very dynamic image. The only small suggestion I could make might be to drop just a smidge off the bottom. Wonderful, eye-catching photo.