Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

Posts Tagged ‘saguaro cactus

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.

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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.

Symbol of the West

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There are many things that symbolize the western United States. The Rocky Mountains might top the list, but not far below would be cactus plants.

There are many variety of cactus yet the saguaro probably is the best known because of its size and arms.

If you called central casting and asked them to send you a cactus, it would look like this one. Not every saguaro has arms, but in the minds of many it is not a cactus unless it has a number of arms poking out.

There is nothing unusual about this particular saguaro, but it has all of the needed properties to be quintessential.

Those dark clouds in the background didn’t produce any rain, but they made a nice contrast with the foreground.

The saguaro is not widespread in the West. The plant is most likely to be found in southern Arizona and parts of California.

Trace of Clouds at Sunrise

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I had arisen early to photograph the sun rising over the Santa Catalina mountains east of Tucson, Arizona.

I was hoping for something as dramatic as I had recorded the night before at sunset. It would not turn out that way, but was still worth the effort.

A sliver of clouds catches the early morning sunlight. It will be a few minutes before the sun climbs over the mountains.

The desert can be a place of extreme contrasts. Later on this day the temperature would climb into the 90s. But at the moment that I made this image, it was cold enough to wear a jacket.