Another angle on the monsoon storm over Tucson.
Monsoon Storm over Tucson from Windy Point, Coronado National Forest, AZ (14″x48″)
While climbing on one of the fins at Windy Point (along the Catalina Highway outside Tucson, AZ) in August, I watched a monsoon storm rumble across the valley below. I took a few minutes to photograph the storm clouds as they approached us. After I drove home I realized that I had also captured a lightning bolt in the panorama.
Lightning and Monsoon Clouds fromWindy Point, Coronado National Forest, AZ (26″x64″)
One of the final 2016 monsoon storms over Tucson and the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Monsoon Clouds over Catalinas from Windy Point, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x48″)
Routes on the north and west faces of the rock promontory above the Prison Camp area make for great spring climbing along the Catalina Highway on Mt Lemmon. I especially liked the shadows of the passing clouds on the hills in the background.
Boot Hill Cliffs and Clouds, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x39″)
The vertical panorama can help give a sense of scale from the base of a cliff, but the perspective inherent in this type of panorama can also distort the image. As I’ve been working on my climbing photography, I have tried a few techniques that I would normally never employ in my landscape work; here I wanted to emphasize the artificial, human aspect that we bring to a traditional (‘trad’) climbing route even if we remove all the gear when we’re finished.
On Lead up Turret Rock, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x42″)
Some 2,000 climbing routes line the Catalina Highway (the 2-lane road leading to the top of Mt Lemmon outside Tucson, AZ). This year, my goal has been to try a new climbing area every weekend; back in February, I hiked up the steep wash around Milepost 10 to the Chessman cliffs. Circling birds of prey, ravens, and canyon wrens surrounded us all day. I took this vertical panorama of the spectacular 5.11-, Two Kings and a Pawn, as one of my friends was leading it.
Sending Two Kings and a Pawn, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x36″)
The southwest-facing cliff at The Ruins crag provides a great location for a pleasant day of winter climbing in southern Arizona. I wanted to capture the full size of the rock face, a little foreground at the base, and the mountains fading into the distance off to the south (right), so I ended up stitching together a series of stacked photographs for this double-tall panorama.
The Ruins Cliff, Coronado National Forest, AZ (20″x40″)
Winter rain and snow on Mt Lemmon brought enough moisture to the Sonoran Desert to make this usually dry stream bed in Hairpin Canyon fill with water. On this particular day, I didn’t expect to take many photographs (I was out to climb), so I didn’t have my tripod in my backpack. I used a rock instead (bottom photograph) and managed to take a long(er) exposure set of photographs for the panorama using image stabilization (basically a gyroscope in the lens)- it’s amazing how well this relatively new technology works in a pinch (but I still wish I had my tripod!).
Falls and Cliffs at Hairpin Canyon, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x47″)
Falls, Log, and Sky at Hairpin, Coronado National Forest, AZ (12″x18″)
While climbing in January near the base of Mt Lemmon, I stopped at the mouth of a small canyon to take this vertical panorama of the rock, vegetation, and clouds.
Bush and Winter Clouds, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x38″)
Here are a few more panoramas from a post-rain hike up the Finger Rock canyon trail into the Pusch Ridge Wilderness.
Compared to last year, this has been a relatively wet winter in Arizona. Once every week or two, clouds have rolled in off the Pacific Ocean and delivered a few hours of light rain, leaving the desert smelling like moist dirt and wet creosote bushes. After one of these winter rains a few weeks ago, I hiked up the Finger Rock canyon trail to take a few photographs of the clouds hanging over the cliffs.
The view of the south-facing canyon walls at Milagrosa Canyon- jumbled giant boulders on the canyon floor, cirrus clouds above, giant saguaros to the sides, and interesting textures on the rock face opposite.