Gymnocalycium cactus

4 08 2009

There are 2 particular reasons why I decided to continue taking cactus macro photos and presenting them here. First reason is that I like these fragile  little blossoms blooming only for one or a couple of days, some in bright colours, others in shades of white or grey. Second reason is that as it seems you were quite satisfied with my Echinopsis posts for which I’m really glad.

Today I will present you blooming Gymnocalycium cactus. Gymnocalycium is a genus of about 70 species  which are at home mostly in South America. One cactus usually has more than one blossom which is about 3-4 cm long and about 2-3 cm in diameter.

If it is posible I try to have a part of cactus body in the image even though I focus mainly on the blossom as in the following photo. The skull-like pattern is really interesting.


1/320 sec. @ 100mm, f/10, ISO 200

For the following 2 images I used a image stacking technique for the first time. Somehow I wasn’t able to get the centre whole sharp so I took 2 images and then stacked them in Photoshop.


1/320 sec. @ 100mm, f/10, ISO 200, 2-image stack

Almost immediately after taking this image my little son came with a small bucket of water and “gave the cactus a shower” 🙂 Fortunatelly, the blossom was tough enough so it was not destroyed, rather the opposite! The water dropplets made it even more appealing to me. I still can’t decide if I like more the next image or the previous one. Which do YOU like more?


1/400 sec. @ 100mm, f/10, ISO 200, 2-image stack

As the water dropplets were nicely glittering in the bright sun I tried also a couple of  “different” photos, rather artistic than descriptive. Here is one that I like the most.


1/400 sec. @ 100mm, f/10, ISO 200

If you are interested in more information about Gymnocalycium genus, this page may be a good starting point. On this page you will then find very nice gallery of different species in this genus.

Technical information: all photos were taken with Canon EOS 450D and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro USM lens.

OK. I hope you’ll like it. Enjoy the summer!




11 responses

5 08 2009
Bernie Kasper

Great shots Tomas, I have seen this done before and have been intrigued by using this method, was it very hard to use ?

5 08 2009
Tomas Turecek

Thanks Bernie. I guess that your question is related to image stacking. Well, I tried it for the first time and it was not so hard. To be honest, I was surprised how easy it was 🙂 It should be much easier with a tripod, otherwise you need steady hands. Taking the images is onle first part, the second more time consuming part is stacking them using some software (I used Photoshop CS3). Every image is in separate layer and on every layer you leave only those parts which you want to have in final image and you erase the rest. I think that I may write some easy tutorial in one of next posts. This technique is usually used by macro insect photographers who wants to have whole animal sharp. Hope it helped you.

5 08 2009

Thomas: Great job with these images. You did a beautiful job with sharpness, in both the first, unstacked image, and the subsequent, stacked ones. I have a slight preference for the image without the water drops. I wish the images were a little brighter, but wonder if that would blow out the whites.

Re. stacking: I imagine you are aware of software that does this automatically: Helicon Focus.

5 08 2009
Tomas Turecek

Thank you Anita for your constructive comment. You’re right that if I try to lighten up the image then whites will be blown out. I played with it a bit and this is the result which is OK technically and also it looks good. I know that the #3 is a bit dark but again, if I will lighten it more there will apear blown out whites or the image will be too flat.

To stacking: I didn’t know about Helicon Focus, I’ll look at it. Thank you for mentioning.

5 08 2009

#2 is my favorite because of the framing, focus, lighting and somehow …….. I just like it!

5 08 2009
Tomas Turecek

Thank you Barbara. It seems that the second one is really the most appealing to most people. My personal favourite is number 4 tightly followed by #2.

5 08 2009

Beautiful shot. The lighting is magical and haunting. Your concluding piece is quite excellent. Keep up the macro work, it’s great fun eh? xD

5 08 2009
Tomas Turecek

Thanks John. You have also ineresting photos on your blog. And yeah, a macro work is great fun!

7 08 2009

Lovely plant and beautiful shots! The droplets definitely add something to the already organic lighting.

8 08 2009
Tomas Turecek

Thanks for stopping by. I visited your blog and noticed that you are a cactus fan. Perhaps you could help me to identify this specie?

6 01 2010
First year of photography « Close Nature

[…] Gymnocalycium cactus – When summer came and cacti of my wife started to bloom I thought that it might be great subject for photography. Moreover cacti photos are not seen very often. You can see more photos of this cactus here. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: