Landscape and Panoramic Photography

Posts tagged “Tucson

Saguaro Cacti after Rain

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.

BentSaguaroCloudsBent Saguaro and Clouds, Pusch Ridge Wilderness, outside Tucson, AZ (16″x35″)


Saguaro National Park West Sunset

I drove through Saguaro National Park West and the Tucson Mountain Park for the first time in early January. As a Tucson resident, I am accustomed to seeing desert plants scattered around the city, but the number of cacti in Saguaro NP West is staggering. Giant saguaros grow right up to the bases of the Tucson Mountain Park cliffs, creating a forest of towering green cacti. I stopped around sunset to take two panoramas of the moonrise over the Tucson Mountains, one as the sun cast a golden glow on the cliffs, the other just after sunset.

MoonTucsonMountainsSunsetMoon and Tucson Mountains at Sunset, Tucson Mountain Park, AZ (16″x83″)

SaguaroMountainsMoonAfterSunsetSaguaro, Mountains, and Moon after Sunset, Tucson Mountain Park, AZ (16″x74″)

Climbing at South Park, Mt Lemmon

The South Park area is another higher elevation (8,400′) bolted cliff near the top of Mt Lemmon where you can escape the summer heat to go climbing. The trail to the crag climbs over a pine-covered ridge, descends through a burn, and leads across a ridge. Wind-blown, gnarled trees pop out of the cliffs above the climbing area, and the rock faces overlook the valley off to the north.

WindBlownOnTheRocksWind Blown on the Rocks, near Summerhaven, AZ (12″x18″)

OverhangAndPinesOverhang and Burned Pines, near Summerhaven, AZ (12″x18″)

LeadingInTheRocksAndShadowsLeading in the Rocks and Shadows, near Summerhaven, AZ (12″x18″)


Climbing at Raycreation, Mt Lemmon

During the height of the summer heat in Tucson valley, a short drive up the Catalina Highway to 8,200 feet provides relief in the pines from the heat below. One of my favorite sport climbing areas, Raycreation, sits near the top of Mount Lemmon and provides some great overhung climbing routes in the relatively cool summer air. A dead tree has started to rot and lean over the namesake climb, Raycreation, at the upper cliff (first photograph).

ReachingRaycreationReaching on Raycreation, near Summerhaven, AZ (12″x18″)

WorkingVenezuelanMafiaWorking for the Venezuelan Mafia, near Summerhaven, AZ (12″x18″)

ConsideringtheMafiaConsidering the Mafia, near Summerhaven, AZ (12″x18″)


Milagrosa Canyon Walls

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.

Milagrosa CanyonMilagrosa Canyon Walls, Milagrosa Canyon, AZ (30″x65″)

Milagrosa Canyon

An unseasonably balmy February has provided wonderful climbing and hiking opportunities on Mt Lemmon. The mid-morning walk out to Milagrosa Canyon last weekend bordered on uncomfortably warm, but the climbing area was nested in an east-west canyon, and the walls provided shade until mid-afternoon. I spent part of the day climbing and part of the day just sitting, enjoying the hovering humming birds and the canyon wren calls. I also brought along my camera and tripod and took a few panoramas of the climbing area and the canyon walls. Here is a vertical panorama of a 5.8+/5.9 climb, Valentine Arete. I also took a vertical panorama of a large saguaro in the canyon and provided both a color and a black and white version (side by side, below).

Valentine Arete BWValentine Arete, Milagrosa Canyon, AZ (16″x45″)

Milagrosa Saguaro CombinedMilagrosa Saguaro (B&W and Color), Milagrosa Canyon, AZ (each 16″x65″)

Saguaro and Winter Storm Clouds

Winter storms pound the southeast and northeast with snow, and here in Tucson we get a nice upper atmospheric ridge that suppresses all our moisture. I know, sunny and 85F in February sounds great, but we depend on our winter rains; so far I think I can count one or two small rain storms. While walking around Catalina State Park on one of those rare rainy days last month, I took this vertical panorama of one of my favorite old saguaros. It’s pockmarked and scarred, but somehow majestic as it towers over the trail. I also included a long-exposure photograph I took last winter of the top of the same saguaro as the clouds streamed by in the background.

Saguaro Winter Storm CloudsSaguaro and Winter Storm Clouds, Catalina State Park, AZ (16″x36″)

Saguaro and CloudsSaguaro and Clouds, Catalina State Park, AZ (12″x18″)

Hairpin Canyon Cliffs, Boulders, and Cacti

After spending the morning climbing at Hairpin Turn at the base of Mount Lemmon, I decided to climb up a scree field to try to re-take a panorama I took last year around this time of year. This time, I chose to make the photo black and white and to use a yellow filter to make the wispy cirrus clouds pop out in the sky and to emphasize the texture of the rocks and cacti. This is another double-tall panorama, so a full-sized print would measure about 24″x48″.

Hairpin Boulders Cacti CliffsHairpin Boulders, Cacti, and Cliffs, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x31″)

Winter Rain in the Catalinas

Almost one year ago to the day, I went hiking on a rainy weekend up to the Romero Pools in Catalina State Park. The clouds were phenomenal for long-exposure photography at the Pools, but the sunset was also spectacular on the walk back down the mountain. The rain clouds reflected the golden light back at the ground, causing the entire mountainside to glow.

Romero Rainstorm SunsetRomero Rainstorm Sunset, Catalina State Park, AZ (16″x40″)

Spreading Prickly Pear

During late fall and early winter, the cacti in southern Arizona tend to shrivel up as they use their last remaining water before the winter precipitation starts. This year, the rains haven’t really arrived in force, and many of the cacti appear shrunken and desiccated. I took this panorama of a prickly pear cactus while on a trail run just outside Tucson in Pima Canyon.

Prickly Pear 1Prickly Pear #1, outside Tucson, AZ (16″x48″)

Towering Saguaro

I have been going on more trail runs in the Catalina Mountains since the weather started to cool off. The size of the saguaro cacti always impresses me as I jog in the foothills, so I started taking my camera gear on my runs. I am compiling a series focusing on the cacti in the Sonoran Desert around southern Arizona. Here is one of my favorite black and white vertical panoramas of the saguaros in Pima Canyon.

Saguaro Cacti and SkySaguaro Cacti and Sky #1, outside Tucson, AZ (16″x33″)