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Sunset out at Four Peaks

(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/22, blended brackets // buy print)

Before heading out last Monday to try for a sunset out on Four Peaks after a big winter storm blew through, I hadn’t shot anything “landscapey” for over a month. Was a long drought and it felt good to be out there again.

So like I said, a huge storm hit Arizona this past Sunday and Monday, leaving the high country blanketed in snow. Everyone in the world knew Four Peaks would be included in that, and I believe everyone in the world was out there on Monday evening. Not only a few photographers I know, but a whole herd of others. Never seen it quite like that before.

I tried to separate myself from all of them by driving further than I ever had before, to get someplace new and different. My main objective was to find a spot where a cactus would still be catching that last bit of sunlight while at the same time capturing some color in the sky.

The sunset we all wanted didn’t exactly show up, but the clouds here were worth the trip for me. And there was still a bit of color in them as well.

Horizon

Flames on the Horizon

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200 2.8 l, 200mm, f/10, iso 100, 1 sec // buy print)

Back in December, we had quite a few winter storms blow through the state which left snow on the outlying desert peaks. On the evening I took this photo, I had met up with a bunch of photographer buddies, like Bryan Snider, Jon Stolarski, Chris Frailey and the awesome duo from Surefire Photos, Sean and Michelle Freeney.

We all were hoping for a gorgeous Four Peaks sunset. But the clouds were too low and never broke. So slowly everyone bailed to head home. As I was leaving though, the sky to the west kind of went supernova. I grabbed the 70-200 and went running through the desert trying to frame a perfect foreground against this epic sky. Nothing quite so beautiful as low, ground-hugging clouds and an Arizona sunset.

Processed this one using my VSCO Film presets and really loved the color I got from it.

The Beeline Curve

The Beeline Curve light trails Arizona

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200 2.8 is l, 185mm, f/11, iso 100, 30 sec)

One of my favorite roads in Arizona is the Beeline Highway. It takes you through some of the most beautiful areas of Arizona. You can see the Superstition mountains, the Four Peaks, Sycamore Creek and all kinds of other things. It allows you to travel from Phoenix to Payson, where the beauty and cool temps of the Mogollon Rim are only 90 minutes from the hot desert.

I’ve always loved this curve in the highway, but never figure out how to shoot it until last night. Our sunset shoot out at the Four Peaks was a bust because of the rain and low clouds, but the west horizon was beautiful and I pulled out the 70-200 to grab some silhouette shots of cactus against the sky.

As I turned to leave, I noticed a lot more cars traveling along the Beeline than you usually see. I figured a bunch must be coming home from Roosevelt Lake or seeing the snow up north. Already having the 70-200 on there made me realize I could get a sweet, compressed shot of this bend in the highway and the light trails of all the vehicles.

I urge you to click to view it full-sized on black, I think WordPress darkened the image up a bit when it re-sized it down to 960.