Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

Posts Tagged ‘saguaro cactus

Up With the Sun in the Desert

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For most of my life I was never an earlier riser, particularly when I didn’t need to be. But in recent years that has changed.

Consequently, I’m seeing more sunrises than I once did. During a trip to Arizona more than a year ago I got up before sunrise to make this series of images of the sun rising over the Santa Catalina Mountains northeast of Tucson.

It was not as dramatic as the sunset I had seen the previous evening, but I still enjoyed seeing the rising sun color the clouds over the mountains and hearing the birds chirping as a new day began in the Sonoran Desert.

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Prickly Pears

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The Opuntia is a cactus plant that is commonly found in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, but is better known as a prickly pear. Although I associate prickly pears with Arizona, the plant is named for an ancient city in Greece known as Opus. This particular plant is located on the outdoor patio of a bed and breakfast in Tucson.

Out There in the Desert

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Movies set in 19th century Western America have to be made somewhere and one place where that occurs is an amusement park called Old Tucson.

Located in the Sonora Desert west of Tucson, Arizona, Old Tucson bills itself as a place to turn back time to the old west and experience “live action stunt shows, musicals and live entertainment, vintage rides for the kids, genuine southwest BBQ and special events throughout the season.”

Of course that is a Hollywood version of the old west, but it has been used as a set for such stars as John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Elizabeth Taylor, Steve Martin, Sharon Stone and Martin Short.

More than 400 film and television projects have been made here since 1939.

I’ve never been inside Old Tucson, but I have driven past it while en route to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. It is shown above in a distant view made from the nearby mountains.

Where Will the Road Take You?

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I’ve always seen an open road as an invitation to travel, even if for just a short distance. As a photographer I find a road hard to resist when out making images.

Shown is Gates Pass Road near Tucson, Arizona. It passes through Tucson Mountain Park and we had stopped at a pullover so I could make images of the surrounding mountains.

As often happens, I find myself making open road images when I am actually seeking to photograph something else.

Gates Pass is a twisting, turning road that goes up and over the mountains and is typically traveled by those going from Tucson to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum or the Old Tucson amusement park.

The view here is looking eastward. Follow this road as you see it here and you’ll eventually wind up back in Tucson.

Cactus and Sunset

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The sun will soon be going down over the Santa Catalina Mountains that surround Tucson, Arizona, and the host of the bed and breakfast where we were staying has indicated that it should produce a spectacular sunset.

That will occur in a few minutes, but in the meantime, I’m trying out some other angles to capture the last of the sun on this splendid October day.

This three-image sequence works with two separate saguaro cactus plants to show the progression of the sunset.

I was fortunate to have the edge of a cloud cover that moved on at the right time. It would be the presence of those clouds that would make this sunset so dramatic.

Tracks to the Sun

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We were staying at a bed and breakfast in Tucson, Arizona, that is operated by a guy who has passion for trains.

He and his wife own an expansive piece of property and Ken has placed a garden railway on it.

The tracks thread their way over the desert floor around cactus and other plants.

The sun will be setting soon and the rails appear to be beckoning travelers to take a journey toward the sunset.

Cactus and the Clouds

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Dark clouds do not also means storms are coming. They don’t even necessarily always mean that rain is coming.

Many photographers prize what they call storm light. It often occurs when the sun pops out after a storm and illuminates the back edge of the storm.

The contrast of objects against the dark clouds can make for some dramatic images.

This image is not storm light per se, but it has some of its qualities. There was no rain and no storm from those dark clouds in the background.

Yet I was able to take advantage of the edge of those clouds opening up a path for direct sunlight. It arrived in time to give this saguaro cactus a late day warm lighting.

The image was made near Tucson, Arizona. Those are the Santa Catalina Mountains in the distance.