Ocotillo is one of the more common cacti of the Chihuahuan Desert.  Well, its actually closely related to the violet than the prickly pear.  Its tally spindly branches grow to ten feet or more.  It the spring it put out a bright red flowery tip.  When it rains it becomes covered in small green leaves.  When you get a good rain in the spring it might have both flowers and leaves.

I have used them as compositional elements in many images taken in west Texas.  This trip to Big Bend was no exception.  

We had an overcast afternoon and with that soft light I thought I might work on photographing the Ocotillo with their bright red flowers of spring.  It also gave me a chance to work some with flash to help light them.

I rarely add light to images.  I do lightpaint some at night but my photography is all about natural light.  I have a couple of flash units that rarely get used.  I had thought I would use them a great deal when light painting my Milky Way images but found that they were too bright.  Even when dialed back to 1/128 power it was often way too bright.  I did most of my light painting with flashlights.

So when I had the overcast day, I thought I would see about working with the flash units to help make the reds pop.

First thought-it takes a lot of work to get your lights right.  Images can take as long to set up as a large format image does.  Second thought-flash, wireless units and a light stand, add a lot of bulk to your pack.  Realization-I might occasionally do this but it will not be often.  For me just working with a simple and light kit is best.

So here are a couple of the images I made that afternoon.  I like the way I was able to give the red an additional pop of color.  I also like the way I was able to keep the sky detail.

Finally I add in an image taken at night with just a bit of the sky showing and a little pop of light on the Ocotillo.


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