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Cacti are fun photographic subjects. Whether I’m photographing a gangly saguaro, or a symmetrical barrel cactus, I can get lost in the variety of patterns the spines create. Sometimes they’re linear, sometimes circular, and sometimes you’ll find both patterns on the same plant.

This was originally a color image, but I turned it into a B&W and bumped up the contrast to emphasize the pattern the lighter spines create on the darker body of the cactus. That made the spines appear to glow almost as if it were an IR (infrared) image, though it isn’t.

I had a photography instructor once who stated that if a color image didn’t make a good black-and-white image, then it wasn’t a good photograph to begin with. He felt that color is a crutch that less practiced photographers lean on, and that having pretty colors in an image allowed photographers to be less diligent about composition, exposure, etc.

I don’t agree with his philosophy entirely, but I’ll sometimes turn a color image into a B&W image momentarily to see if it indeed passes his test. Usually I turn the B&W image back into a color image, but sometimes I’m inspired to then desaturate the colors, since making that instantaneous switch from B&W back to color can make an image I initially thought was pretty suddenly look garish.

And sometimes, as in the case of the image above, I decide it really should’ve been a B&W image all along.

Thanks to the miracle of digital photography and editing software, it’s easy to have several versions of the same image to pick from.

Today I choose black and white.


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