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Fields of Gold

FIelds of Gold
(please click to view on black // canon rebel xsi, canon 18-55mm f/3.5, 18mm, f/10, 1/160th, iso 200 // buy print)

I was going through some old images from 2010 this weekend and while my processing methods back then horrify me, I found some RAW files that were actually pretty good shots and just needed to be re-edited with the way I do things now.

The above photograph was taken with my first DSLR…a Canon Rebel XSi, plus the kit lens that came with it. I merged two photos to get the panorama. It was such a stunning sight that afternoon. I don’t remember ever seeing it like that before or since. It must have rained a lot that winter, because the gold wildflowers were just everywhere. I had Lyla with me (around 1 and 1/2 at the time) and she was in awe of the flowers. It was also awesome to get some beautiful clouds to complete the scene.

 

 

Flowers, a bee and thirteen years

Flowers Bee Arizona Desert

I was up in Vistancia (far northwest Phoenix) on Friday late afternoon on a little commercial shoot and as we wandered around a desert trail, these flowers demanded some attention from my camera.

Last year was huge for wildflowers in Arizona…they were all over the place. On the sides of freeways, on the slopes of hills and mountains…everywhere. This year, not so much. But this little area by a pond was filled with them and it kind of reminded me of the stunning beauty of flowers in the desert.

There is a bee in there too if you can find him!

Don’t usually post blogs on the weekend, but today is my 13th wedding anniversary and I wanted to do just a little something for my wife. I wont go gushing or anything, but most of you married guys doing photography might feel the same as I do. I wouldn’t be doing this at ALL if it wasn’t for her and that’s the truth. She is the only person in the world I can count on to always support me and have my back. Her encouragement is the reason I am where I am.

Just wanted say thanks Jina for all you do. Happy Anniversary!

Just another Arizona sunset

At first glance I would expect most people to see this photo and NOT choose Phoenix, Arizona as the location it was taken. You have some farm fields, tall trees, wildflowers and some hay protected by the sun. Definitely not something people naturally picture when it comes to Arizona and our deserts. Ah, but it is.

I photographed this last night about 1.5 miles from my house down in Chandler, which is basically on the southeastern corner of the metropolitan Phoenix area. We’re moving soon to downtown Phoenix and I’m going to miss sights like these on a few miles away. But out here, amidst the new home developments, shopping areas and industrial construction, you still have pockets of farms and agriculture thriving and hanging around. I love it.

The monsoon season hasn’t really nailed Phoenix yet, but the debris clouds have been spectacular and last night’s sunset was full of rays shining through clouds, stretching across the sky. The sunset photo I posted a few days ago ironically also had sunflowers in them, but they are really all over the place right now. I saw them here earlier in the week and knew I wanted to head back for a sunset shot whenever I got the chance.

Technically, this is a hand-held, 3-bracket HDR from Photomatix, CS5, Imagenomic and some Topaz. I Actually processed two HDRs for this, one to get the sky right, one to get the flowers and foreground a little more colorful, and then masked them together in CS5.

I also used a new lens that I purchased off Craigslist…a simple Tamron 17-35 f2.8-4 Di LP SD. The price was cheap and I’ve been wanting to get a nice wide angle for portrait shooting, and one with a decently wide aperture. All the reviews of this lens, plus the sample shots, were fantastic. If anything, it’s an amazing upgrade from my 18-55mm Canon kit lens. I loved the way this shot turned out.

The Flatiron cliffs in black and white

Nothing but Flatiron all week, although I hope you enjoyed the interlude with the alleyway yesterday. There is a slight chance there will be nothing but Flatiron and the Lost Dutchman area next week as I may go hike it again on Saturday *grin*

I loved all the color at Flatiron last week, as you can see from all the photos I’ve posted about it. The flowers were incredible, the yellow tones and hues were rich and everywhere. But I also went out there because the sky had some cool clouds going on from a cold front moving through and everyone knows how much I love photos with awesome fluffy things in the sky.

So during the hike, I see this view. It appeared almost like a scene from Close Encounters to me. A mountain with a cloud centered directly above it. Looked spooky, other-worldly.

Something about it cried out black and white to me, so I changed things up. This is a three-bracket HDR to bring out the details, but converted to a black and white to remove focus from the wildflowers/color and instead point it to the cloud hovering over Flatiron.

Plus when you are out photographing the desert, sometimes black and white just gives you that old western look that feels natural. I adore black and white so much, yet most of what I photograph cries out for colors and tones, so this was a fun little break in the action. Hope you guys like it!

More from the Flatiron Cliffs

Hopefully no one is getting bored with photos from the Flatiron Cliffs in the Lost Dutchman State Park. I for one can’t get enough of looking at the mountains and the color of the flowers flooding the desert floor. It’s up there with some of the most favorite things I’ve photographed in my young little career.

Yesterday I posted a shot that was sort of a square, which made up the shot above and a pan to the left. But from the start I’ve always loved this single shot, with the stairs on the right, the little valley leading up to the cliffs and the clouds…man the clouds are cool.

This is an HDR photo from a single-RAW, something I usually don’t do. I’ve not found it to produce great results all the time, but in this case, I thought it worked.

More wildflowers from Flatiron at Lost Dutchman

On Friday I posted an HDR version of what I saw out at Flatiron on Thursday late afternoon. The HDR is cool, brings out a lot of textures and gives it a really deep feel, but I also love standard photography as well. The colors were so amazing, you really didn’t need to try hard to get a good shot.

If you live in the Phoenix area or close to the Lost Dutchman State Park, I highly suggest you head out there sometime soon before the flowers are gone. They are stunning…simply stunning.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’ve lived here in Arizona for my entire 35.2 years of existence and have never made it a point to see the desert wildflowers bloom. I’m so thankful for photography right now for opening my eyes up to the beauty that has always been around me.

Hope you enjoy these.

a few more shots

The Flatiron cliffs of Lost Dutchman

I almost wanted to title this, “Hey Dutchman, I found the gold!”

A somewhat stormy day here in Arizona, awesome clouds everywhere, so I grabbed up my daughter from the babysitter and headed out to the Superstition Mountains and Lost Dutchman state park to take some photos. I’ve been around there a few times, but never have gotten a shot that I really liked.

And then I saw Flatiron and the fields of gold wildflowers surrounding the base of the cliffs. They were everywhere. It was amazing to see. Contrast it with sunlight breaking through stormy cumulus clouds and it made for a dramatic scene.

I’ d like to go back in about a week to really hike the trails that lead to the top. Having my amazing 17-month old daughter along for the ride made going too far difficult, but we did walk quite aways into the flowers. I have more photos I will post at a later time.

Technical crap…two, 3-bracket HDR photos merged into this panoramic. I was going to do more than three brackets, but without the magic promote tool I want someday, the clouds were just moving too fast for anything other than 3 quick shots.

Ah, I can’t help it…here is my daughter picking little flowers amidst a sea of gold.

Highway 60 to Superior

Not too long ago I posted photos from our little visit to the area west of Superior, Arizona in search of the wildflowers. Along the way, as I was running back and forth across Highway 60 to snap some shots, I stopped in the middle and looked east…immensely enjoying the road curving off in the distance and the mountain on the horizon.

I am in love with road photos…there is just something that connects me with seeing the way a line of striped pavement runs off into the horizon or bends to disappear around a hill.

You can see a slideshow of all my favorite road photos on my gallery. It’s sort of small now, but this summer I expect it to triple in size from the storm chasing I’ll be doing. The only thing better than a road photo is one with storm clouds hovering in a menacing way.

The Spring Wildflowers of the Arizona Desert

A good friend of ours named Ryann had been traveling along the US 60 through Superior in the last week and made sure to point out to me all the wildflowers blooming along the highways and mountains. Plus I’d been keeping up with DesertUSA.com and all their reader wildflower reports.

They mentioned how the flowers had been going nuts on Silver King Mine road just west of Superior, so I packed the wife and kid in the car Sunday afternoon and we took off.

The first thing we noticed was the highway. From when you leave the Apache Junction area until you get to Superior, the sides of the road, some of the hilltops…were just blooming flowers everywhere. Yellow, purple, orange, pink…it was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve been on in Arizona.

Now sadly…the Silver King Mine road was not made for Passat station wagons and we were only able to go about a mile. We didn’t get too close to the flowers up there, but this first shot shows the hill off in the distance and the layers of orange, yellow and purple flowers that cover the hillside. Wish I had a truck!

The rest of the shots below were taken on the way back…we stopped off the side of the road a few times.

This one above goes with the one below…the foreground is clear in the top photo, while the background is clear in the photo below.

This one above is my favorite…I love the placement of the dead tree and the field of yellow poppies surrounding it.

An obligatory shot of the road as I ran back to the car. You can’t see the flowers great here, but both sides have some yellow on them. Love the cliffs in the waaay background, I may have to get out there again one day.