It’s easy to have preconceptions about what you want to photograph. Planning is great and leads to the best photos. But you can’t force an idea if it won’t work. I wanted to focus exclusively on landscape photos in Arizona and wildlife was supposed to be an afterthought. But the wildflowers weren’t blooming and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky (which makes for a very boring sky). If you see an opportunity, you have to go for it – whether it’s something cool you notice or fantastic light. Maybe it won’t work out, but it has a better chance than forcing something that’s not there. The early fog (or haze) over some distant mountains had my hopes up that there might be some good landscape potential today.
By the time the sun emerged, any hint of moisture in the sky was gone. When the sky is dull and interesting, I prefer to minimize the amount of sky in any photos. Most of the vegetation was still looking a bit dead, but you can still find a few interesting subjects. The pattern in these clumps drew my eye.
The last couple of days I had noticed that around my campground there were quite a few birds. The light is pretty harsh in the desert, but the light-colored sand reflects a lot of light up helping to soften it a bit. There were a pair of Gila Woodpeckers that were occupying a nest in a big tall saguaro right in front of the campground office.
Curve-billed Thrashers were also pretty numerous around the campground. There was no way I could pass up one when it started calling from atop a cactus right in front of me. What a crazy beak these birds have.
I was still on a quest for that saguaro silhouette image. I had another location scouted out and began hiking out there around 2 pm. I sat out the side of this hill waiting for the light to improve and make the silhouette possible. While I was waiting I found a tiny flower that had managed to flower in the shade behind the only large boulder in the area.
The light became pretty nice and the cholla cacti combined with the rusty tones of some of the rocks created a foreground that captured my interest. It was my last day in Saguaro National Park and I had really enjoyed my day. As the sun went down, I took a few silhouette images, but it never yielded the vision that I had in mind. I was left with a newfound respect for how difficult it could be to find the elements positioned together corrected for such a shot. I didn’t really need extra encouragement, but it certainly gives me a reason to come back to Saguaro National Park in the future.