February 2019: Phoenix, Arizona - Wilderness Exclusives

It’s been one hell of a winter around here. Life is a series of transitions, and this winter things all seemed to transition at once. Some changes were sad, and some have been sources of great excitement! But, with either, stress will ultimately take its toll. With so many things going on lately with my family, loved ones and me personally, photography and the motivation to work has been a struggle. Subzero temperatures and bad weather can make for some fun photography, until frostbite kicks in.

A friend of mine, we'll call him "Brandon" to protect his identity, even though that is in fact his name,  suggested an improvisational trip to Phoenix, Arizona to “network."   This sounded like the perfect cure for the winter doldrums. Tickets and car booked, the stoke was strong enough to get me though a couple more weeks of Colorado cold.

Immediately following our arrival at Sky Harbor, we checked out a couple of spots in Old Town for some delicious food and ale.  Afterwards, Brandon suggested we go check out Pinnacle Peak Park, which is south of Scottsdale. We arrived with the twilight waning, and I took a few quick snapshots in this desert ecosystem. I love the desert and I love shooting the desert. It felt good to click the shutter a few times, and get my bearings when it comes to using my camera. I had almost forgotten that the thing doesn't accept film. 

It seems like in the desert, the light gets really nice and soft just before sunset, in a way that is unique to that ecosystem. It probably has to do with the “long light” hitting the brightly colored rocks.

The following evening, we checked out Chino Bandito. It’s a little hole-in-the-wall with an eclectic Mexican/Asian/Jamaican fusion menu-- a risky combination of pallets, for sure, but this is some quality junk food! I had the Jade Red Chicken, and Pollo Diablo, of course with their famous refried beans and rice. I’ll be sure to return, as will with the many celebrities with autographed headshots adorning their entry wall.

Feeling inspired again, I suggest we head to Tempe Town Lake. This place kept popping up every time I searched for night spots that might be cool to shoot in Phoenix, and no wonder! The “lake” is actually just a wide and calmly flowing section of the Salt River, but it has the look and feel of a lake. There are bike paths and very brightly lit, reflective commercial buildings just off the shore. That is, if you’re on the proper side of the lake. We did some driving and walking before I found some perspectives I liked.

Even shooting it using long exposures (20-30 seconds), the even and steady flow of the lake (river) puts characteristic "streaks" in the reflections. This is different from most bodies of water, where that long of an exposure will generally give the reflection a “textured glass” effect.

I set up and snagged this shot of Mill Ave on the way back to the hotel.  My original idea was to stand in the median with the palm trees, and have the moon anchor the image from the background, but I recomposed the shot this way. I used my LED flashlight to light paint the palm trees to make them glow a little, an effect that worked a little bit on the closest tree but didn't really grab hold of the other trees. The street lighting did the rest of the work.     

There was no way I could not stop to shoot this very cool Carvana structure! Fanciest parking garage in the United States? I'd never seen one of these before. 

The next day was cloudless with blistering light and bright blue skies, so I left the camera in the hotel. Getting back around dusk, I noticed that, yet again, Arizona set out to impress with its magical evening skies! Already at the hotel, with no time to go out and scout a new location, I decided to work with what was at hand. The hotel had some very nice grotto areas, a photogenic pool, and even a cactus garden. I decided to stay and shoot these areas of the hotel well into the night.

After a successful and fun trip, Brandon flew home on Sunday night, as I made my way up to Sedona, Prescott, and Flagstaff to hike and continue to shoot Arizona. I’ll post a separate blog to share these adventures soon. 


**As an aside, regarding prints: if the photo above is featured with a title, click on it and the viewer will be taken to that photo’s location in one of my display Galleries. From there, there should be a “Buy” option, clicking here will display the various prints available for sale. If the desired image is not featured in a display Gallery for sale, email me.


Thanks for reading!

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