Extreme Succulent Defamiliarization 1: Snake-eyes Revisited


Two last shots from the sojourn in Derbyshire coming up. As seasoned observers of my blog will know, my father is a world authority on Cacti and Succulents and has run a nursery for many years. I always try to grab at least one or two macros from the greenhouses on every visit…


Even for enthusiasts familiar with these genera and species, the following two images may already feel quite alienating – this is deliberate!


The first, presented here, is a revisit with slightly improved technique of a favourite image of 2013: a closeup of a Lithops leaf to create a very different effect from the usual images of Lithops one can find from a casual survey of uncle Google.


In this image, taken from a very ancient plant in my father’s national collection, the growing leaf is visible beneath the sheath of a previous year’s sclerotic skin. Stacked with extension tubes for depth of field.


This image needed an extensive clear-up. I’ve yet to find a satisfactory way to cleanly and consistently remove all the flecks of dust, soil, and sand from the surface; I’ll keep trying, but blowing and brushing seem unreliable. What results is a 3-hour slog in photoshop cloning out the dust with the kind of detailed precision that makes the corrections invisible. At least in this case the stacking itself didn’t produce to many errors needing correction!


“Snake-Eyes Revisited”: Lithops pseudotruncatella var. alpina Detail




Nikon D800E/60f2.8 micro/68mm extension

Stack of 10 frames, slightly beyond x2 magnification

ISO 100 4 seconds f/16


Given the low light levels in the December greenhouse and the consequent very long shutter speeds, I’m very pleased with the way this one has come out. I made good use of my Novoflex Castel-L rack for this shot; I’ve etched 1mm increments in the bottom ring of the large movement knob, so I can monitor the stacking increments from behind the camera without having constantly to move to check the mm scale on the side of the rack. This also has the benefit of providing a greater visual distance between the increments, so you can dial in smaller controlled turns of the knob for fractions of millimetres. Here I used half-millimetre increments, for a total depth of field of about 4–5mm.





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