Tag Archives: Tucson

Christmas at San Xavier del Bac

While in Tucson last week, I visited Mission San Xavier del Bac, south of the city.  The beautiful church was decorated for Christmas.

This was another challenging exposure, so I took three different exposures and combined them into a single high dynamic range (HDR) photograph.  (Click to enlarge.)

Interior of San Xavier del Bac Mission

Biosphere 2

Wednesday was mostly a travel day—going from Tucson to Flagstaff.  Before I left the Tucson area, though, I decided to visit Biosphere 2. This was a structure built in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s for conducting ecological experiments in a man-made closed system.  In its first mission, which began in 1991, eight people were locked inside with the goal of living for two years in an almost completely self-sustaining environment. While there were a variety of challenges with this mission, it met its duration goal by lasting for two years and twenty minutes.

Today, Biosphere 2 is a science laboratory run by the University of Arizona. I found the tour fascinating, not only for its reflection on the original Biosphere missions, but also for its glimpse into current, ongoing research at the facility.

biosphere2_habitat

biosphere2_ocean_2

biosphere2_ocean

Tucson, Day 2

saguaro_silhouette

As a musician, I’ve been trained, in the moments leading up to a performance, to relax—to calm myself, and peacefully contemplate what I’m about to do. It puts me into the right mindset, by clearing everything else out of my head. And then when I’m ready, I can execute the way all the rehearsals taught me to perform.

And so it needs to be with photography. I know my cameras; I can handle most of the photographic situations I’ll be in. But if my mind is still back home, thinking about work  or other chores, I won’t be ready to make the photographs I know I can make.

Even in nature photography, there’s a lot to think about—what’s going to happen next?  When’s the sun going to set?  Which way is the wind blowing?  What time does this park lock its gate?  What’s the hyperfocal distance for this shot?

Today, in the Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park, I had to just say, “Stop!”

saguaro_arms I was standing next to a 30-foot-tall Saguaro, and listening.

The wind was blowing hard.  I stopped to listen to the wind flowing through the needles of the Saguaro.  Wow.  I bet a lot of people go through life never hearing that sound.  Let’s listen a little bit more, to the birds, and the squirrels…

A whole lot of nature photography is being patient. It’s waiting for the right light. It’s waiting for a shadow to move. Or a cloud.

saguaro_national_park_javelina_rocks And sometimes, the right light doesn’t happen.  Sometimes, the cloud doesn’t show up in the right spot.  That’s part of nature photography.

But if my mind is open, I will still enjoy what I’m doing. I can listen for the wind. I can watch and listen for the animals around me.

Okay, I’m ready again. Ready to take another photograph. My mind is clear again.

Saguaro National Park

I’m in Arizona this week.

In the days leading up to this trip, I was stressing about projects left undone at work and at home. I wasn’t sure how easily I would shift my focus to photography.

I visited the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park this afternoon.  I just did a quick drive-through around sunset, to get a better idea of what I want to try tomorrow.

Once I got out into the desert, watching the sunset, I knew I was mentally prepared for the photography.  The challenges back home are well taken care of (for which I am grateful!), allowing me to settle into the nature around me.

Here’s one of my infrared shots from today.

saguaro_national_park

Look for more over the next week.