Three Views of a Saguaro

Saguaro Spines

Saguaro Spines © 2011 Bo Mackison

Lately I’ve picked one subject to photograph in many ways, exploring it up close and far away. Exploring it from different views – from the top, all sides, from low while lying upon the earth. The desert has made me adapt to her ways, as I haven’t yet found a way to lie comfortably on her floor. I do not trust even a small area that looks gravel-y and clear of sharp objects.

Cactus spines, tree thorns, cholla stickers – my eyesight will never be acute enough to judge a space safe enough to lie upon.

It is making me explore alternative methods, for I have a strong connection to photographing earth’s living creatures while lying on my back, feeling fully connected to the earth itself.

Not a problem is Wisconsin, but a definite concern in Arizona.

Cactus Catch

Cactus Catch © 2011 Bo Mackison

Sherpa and I did a running count yesterday as we walked in the Sonoran Desert. We counted the number of “cartoon” cacti that we actually saw. Remember those “Beep, beep!” road runner cartoons? The desert would be a huge void, the ground sandy, much like a beach or a child’s sandbox, and at repetitive intervals a saguaro cactus would drift in and out of view. The cactus was always a one-armed or two-armed version of a Saguaro.

Obviously the cartoonists simplified the desert for the children, or perhaps they’d never seen the living desert themselves. Although there is space in the desert — most plants are not crowded together, but stand at respectful distances from each other, giving most plants enough space to provide the needed moisture — there are no large, open spaces of sandy terrain. Various cacti, bushes, trees and other vegetative species occupy a good amount of the land.

So I need to figure out a solution to my “lying on the earth” dilemma. Lightweight so I can carry it, impervious to sharp, sticky things, non-destructive to the desert floor. Hmm…

Cactus Portal

Cactus Portal © 2011 Bo Mackison

I am always amazed at the unusual things I see in the desert. In the above photo, there is a hole in the saguaro allowing me a peek at the saguaro standing behind it. Not only was I able to show this secret space, but the sunlight cast lovely shadows of the saguaro spines upon the cactus surface which gave the added treat of diagonal shadow/light.

See? The desert gives many gifts to those who wander there, observing the obvious and the not so obvious. I am very grateful that I am able to have another desert experience this year.

Desert Redux.


Bo Mackison is a photographer, owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is thrilled beyond words as she can again explore southern Arizona, especially the Sonoran desert.


About Bo Mackison

I’m a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place – a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I’d love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It’s my gift to you.


  1. Joanna Paterson says:

    You must be so excited to be back! Thanks for sharing these perspectives on the desert.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I’m here for some set up work for upcoming art shows. I’ll be back after New Year’s for a few months. yay!

  2. I love cacti and these are great cactus spine shots for sure! Indeed, the desert holds treasures. 🙂

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Every time I walk through the desert, I find new treasures and rediscover some I remember from last winter.

  3. Beautiful–I love looking at close up of spines–their patterns are so interesting.

  4. I found that the Sonoran Desert was as intriguing and complex as any of our northern forests and I will always miss it.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Just read that the Sonoran desert has a huge diversity. Add the sky islands and it is quite amazing. I do love this place.

  5. Prety wicked looking. I’d watch my backside if I were taking photos.

    Very interesting perspectives on Saguro. I enjoyed it.

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