Near where I live is a series of Wildernesses that I-15 bisects. This area is cumulatively known as the Virgin River Gorge. It is home to some of the southwest's most iconic residents, including Joshua Trees, Big Horn Sheep, and in this case, these wonderful Barrul Cactus.
Even though I have lived in southern Utah for years, I had never bothered to explore this area until recently. Part of the reason why is there are no trails. To explore, you must find a safe place to park along the freeway, hop a fence and wander through a landscape covered with spines, sharp rocks, and occasionally rattlesnakes. On this adventure, I only had one cactus barb through my shoe and into my foot. As I was wandering the slopes looking for a spot for sunset, I stumbled upon this cluster of cacti. The problem was that they seemed to like to only grow along steep hillsides with sharp drop-offs all around.
After fiddling with the composition, I settled on a view of this barrel brigade acting as leading points to the mountain in the distance. Ultimately, I created a three-image focus stack to get all cacti in sharp focus and one more to bring the dynamic light of the clouds and sky into a more manageable range.Upload YOUR Picture • WIN $200 Cash
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor