photography from the ground up

Springtime In Arizona

I have been planning a trip to southern Arizona to capture the spring wildflowers in bloom for several years. Something else always seemed to take priority. This year I finally just packed the car and started driving. I went first to Tucson where I lived for a short time in the late 70s. I was looking forward to seeing the place again.

Brittlebrush-And-Cholla

Brittlebush in bloom and Teddy Bear Chollas on the shore of Lake Pleasant near Phoenix, Arizona

The town has changed a great deal in the ensuing years. The places I could recognize were lost in a miasma of new construction, freeway signs, and traffic that bore little resemblance the place I remembered. I fled to the desert, which was really the point of the trip after all. Getting out of town took way longer than it should have, but I finally made it to Saguaro National Park where I spent the remainder of my first day lost in the healing process of making images.

Cholla-Sunset

Teddy Bear Chollas at twilight near Tucson, Arizona

I spent ten hours driving, walking, and making photographs. I wasn’t as excited as I should have been. The clear blue Arizona sky was boring, as was the light, especially at mid-day. As the sun moved lower in the sky, I noticed some clouds building on the western horizon; they were infused with a magnificent orange glow. I pulled over at a likely spot, parked the car and wandered into the desert. I had a specific image in mind and, as I walked through the cactus forest, I found what I was looking for. Teddy Bear Chollas have a kind of ephemeral quality about them, especially when they are backlit. The light shining through the clustered spines creates a halo of luminescence around them. Their soft, fuzzy appearance belies the reality, Those spines are barbed, and if you are unlucky enough to come too close, the result can be quite painful.

The-Bloomin'-Desert

Brittlebush in Bloom and Saguaros near Oracle, Arizona

After a day shooting in Saguaro National Park, followed by another long drive back into Tucson (long due to traffic, not distance), I decided to head north towards Phoenix in hopes of finding more wildflowers. It was not a lack of quantity, or quality that fueled my decision; there was plenty of brittlebush blooming in the Tucson area, but I was really hoping to find some Mexican Poppies.

Superstition-Sunset

Teddy Bear Chollas at sunset at the Lost Dutchman in the Superstition Mountains

I took the back roads through Oracle, Arizona–one of my favorite writers, Ed Abbey, spent some time there in his later years. On the way I spent part of the day visiting Biosphere 2, before continuing on my way in search of photographs. I eventually arrived at Lost Dutchman State Park near Apache Junction a couple of hours before sunset. Once again, I found myself wandering through stands of cholla and Saguaros waiting for the sun to fall below the horizon. Besides the thrill of the pursuit of images, the experience of solitude in a remarkable landscape is one of the most rewarding aspects of a trip like this.

Standin'-On-A-Corner-In-Winslow,-Arizona

On the way home I stopped in Winslow, Arizona to pose with Jackson Browne. “Standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona…”

I never did find the poppies, but all in all, it was a worthwhile trip. I managed to make some nice photographs, and to visit some old friends who live in Phoenix. On the way home, I stopped at a corner in Winslow made famous in song. The statue and “park” are the most noteworthy things I saw in the town, although friends have informed me that there is a good restaurant in one of the old hotels. Maybe I’ll check it out when I return in search of the poppies next year.

 

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22 responses

  1. Wow, absolutely stunning photos! What a lovely place. Thank you for sharing!

    Like

    March 21, 2015 at 7:33 am

  2. Jim Streeter

    We hope to make a trip down there next spring.

    Like

    March 21, 2015 at 7:34 am

  3. I was there in summer.Spring is a lot more interesting with a lot of wildflowers.Fantastic !

    Like

    March 21, 2015 at 8:08 am

  4. What an amazing place, those Teddy Bears look really cute with the sun shining through – wouldn’t want to touch one after reading about them. And as for Jackson Browne, one of my favourite artists…wonderful 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    March 21, 2015 at 8:25 am

  5. I love your work, James! I grew up and live here in the AZ desert. These photos capture the beauty so well. A great trip for you next time would be through Martinez canyon and the Coke Ovens. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 21, 2015 at 8:43 am

    • Thanks Kimberly. I’m glad you like my work. I’ll check out the locations you suggested.

      Like

      March 22, 2015 at 7:51 am

  6. You take the pictures i would have taken had i been a better photographer. Really like your style and looking forward to seeing more. Keep ‘clicking’

    Liked by 1 person

    March 21, 2015 at 9:26 am

  7. The desert blooiming. Beautiful images Jim!

    Like

    March 21, 2015 at 9:54 am

    • Thanks Adrian. This is a different desert from the one we have in New Mexico, and it was interesting for me to photograph it.

      Liked by 1 person

      March 22, 2015 at 7:55 am

  8. Conny Wituschinski

    Wouw ❤️🌞💫

    Like

    March 21, 2015 at 10:30 am

  9. Sunset scenes in the desert seem so natural… great photos! Worth the trip for your followers… Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    March 22, 2015 at 2:28 am

  10. Great set of images Jim, LOVE THEM.

    Like

    March 22, 2015 at 2:44 am

  11. Really enjoyed your photos . . . so different than my surroundings in New England! Love the interesting shapes and textures. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    March 22, 2015 at 11:55 am

  12. Excellent, such lovely images!

    Like

    March 27, 2015 at 11:49 am

  13. nice and colourful 🙂

    Like

    March 30, 2015 at 4:56 am

  14. Reblogged this on miplanetabonito.

    Like

    April 30, 2015 at 9:58 am

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