Cattail seeds

It was a very wet year here in Minnesota and that’s good for cattails like this one, opening in November to release its roughly 25,000 seeds.

Photograph of a cattail releasing seeds

Many people consider cattails an invasive pest, but that’s far from true. Unchecked, they can take over a wetland with their dense network of roots. But if managed, they can be a real asset. They absorb toxins and will improve water quality if they’re removed at the end of the season. And they can be harvested for a number of uses, including biomass for fuel, and as food. The seed fluff is an excellent insulator used by many birds and mammals for nests, and historically by indigenous people for winter clothing.

To get all the amazing fuzz, I went for extreme DOF using focus stacking. The Nikon Z6 “focus shift” function can shoot a deep stack automatically using an AF lens, once you hit on the right settings – they’re not obvious or well documented. I then use Helicon Focus to merge the stack.

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