Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

August 2002

Tip of the Month

Removing cactus spines


Again, I owe this tip to Larry and Larraine Coplin, who have supplied a few other great tips to us in previous months. If you photograph in the desert you may occasionally get bump into prickly pear cactus. Besides the large spines common to almost all cacti, prickly pear also have fine, nearly invisible hair-like spines that have a wonderful proclivity for attaching to tripod pads. If you use Laird tripod pads, or simply wrap your tripod legs in pipe insulation foam, you may get these fine spines into the coverings. Although the spines might be a nuisance in this way, it's worse, for the spines also seem to stick sharply from the back end too. So, trying to hold onto a tripod with tiny, invisible spines sticking out becomes quite uncomfortable, and the spines can be so numerous that trying to pick them out seems impossible.

A friend of our's gave us a book on the virtues of duct tape, listing 100 or 1,000 uses for this indispensible product. This month's tip wasn't in that book but it illustrates still another use for duct tape -- it removes cactus spines! If you have spines, stick duct tape over the injured area. The spines will stick to the tape and, when pulled off, the spines will be drawn out and removed! Years ago, while several of us surrounded a prickly pear cactus to film lynx spiders, three of us got zapped by cactus spines which resulted in our discarding and tossing whatever tripod covers we were using. I wish I had known about that tip then!

Our Past Photo Tips of the Month:

  Aug./Sept.,1999  Nov./Dec.,1999   Dec./Jan.,2000
 Feb./March, 2000  April/May, 2000  June/July 2000
 July/August 2000  September 2000  Oct./Nov. 2000
 December 2000  January 2001  Feb//March 2001
 April/May 2001   June 2001   July-August 2001
 September-October 2001  November 2001   Dec 2001 Jan 2002
 January-February 2002  March 2002  April 2002
 May 2002  June 2002  July 2002

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