Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Saguaros at Sunset

The Saguaro cactus, (pronounced Sawarrow), is a magnificent plant and I can see why photographers travel great distances to capture their unique, unusual and diverse shapes and characteristics.  Each one has its own personality.  They are sacred to the Native Americans who treat them with the same dignity and respect as they would their brothers and sisters.  Indeed, they look very human, especially at twilight when it is easy to imagine them taking on human form.
The Saguaro is a very slow grower, maybe only an inch a year, and they don't start growing 'arms' until they are over 20 years old (according to a park ranger).  They can grow to 50 feet tall, and those with more than 5 arms can be 200 years old.  They have a smooth and waxy skin with ridges of 2 inch spines.  Night blooming white flowers appear in May and June and secret a sweet nectar in its tubes that awaits fertilization by cross pollination with the help of birds, bats and insects.  If fertilized, fruit develops and ripens just before fall and is eaten by all desert creatures and was an important source of food for the early Native Americans.
Photographers can test their composition skills as they view and capture these beautiful plants from unique angles to emphasize their individual character and personality.  I had a wonderful time, but after seeing photos of how beautiful this area is in the spring when this desert comes alive with color, I must go back again! 

Saguaro Winter

Winter in Saguaro National Park produces muted shades of browns, greens, rust and lavender, warmed by early morning and late evening light

Textures, shapes and size are what makes photos at this time of year interesting

It is a beautiful, but very hostile environment.  EVERTHING, and I mean everything, seems to have stickers or thorns, from huge needles to little tiny slivers you can't even see, but you certainly can feel.  Even though I was careful not to touch anything, they must be able to jump out and attach themselves because I'm still picking out slivers!

The size and shapes of these Saguaros are magnificent.  I will give you a little more information on them in my next post.