Anatomy of a photo #71: Cauliflower fractals


The pointy, fractalized Romanesco Cauliflower

Plants and nature are rather amazing as they follow mathematical formulae, growing to patterns we don’t even realize until they are shoved under our noses, like in the case of a Romanesco Cauliflower. It is a series of tiny florets, each spiraling from its base, a nearly perfect swirl, always in the same direction. The cells are building blocks, placed tightly and securely one after another, until this glorious “flower” takes shape.

Romanesco Cauliflowers taste like regular cauliflowers, except that they are more flavorful and perhaps a little nuttier

Nature is full of numbers- primes, fibonacci numbers, squares and cubes, but usually it is not out in the present enough that we notice it. Sometimes though, we will see something like this that makes us examine nature a little more closely. After seeing one of these beauties, I peered a little more closely at a regular cauliflower… and I saw all of the same spirals, twisting away in the same patterns. They are more subtle however, as they are not nearly so thee dimensional and don’t stand out in points. You will notice that they spiral in a similar manner.

A more standard cauliflower, but you can see that it to has the same spiral pattern

These photos were taken with my phone’s camera, as I did not have my fancier equipment with me on this day that I was at the market. No flash was used, but there are no blocked-up shadows in the photos for two reasons- it was a grey day, and I was in a place that cast even shadows all around me.

It just goes to show that the best camera in the world is the one that you have with you.The best SLR in the world is useless if it’s not with you. It is only a tool, and can’t capture a single image without you. I’ve gotten photographs published in newspapers simply because my a small camera was in my pocket during situations when I couldn’t have my full gear with me.

Math is present throughout nature, even if we don’t always realize it. The way leaves form, the structure of our bones… just about everything. We just don’t always have the right tools to be able to interpret all the little things that can go into the final result. Even ice. It doesn’t just freeze to the shape of its container, but can shape itself, like these geometric ice anomalies.

About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website-
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