Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Rattlesnake Rivals
A friend of mine who went to college in Tucson highly recommended that I visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, just west of the city. I'm glad I listened. I enjoyed my time there. 
Even in October the light was quite bright and it was warm, so be advised that a spring or summer visit could be, umm, toasty. And take water: I can guarantee you that you'll get thirsty in the dry air and sun.
There are a number of zoo-like exhibits with desert animals and birds; taking photos of those residents is iffy. During the heat of the day most are taking shelter in the shade of their dens or various nooks and crannies. Quite by accident  I happened upon the two rattlesnakes battling each other. They were in the shade of a prickly pear cactus, intertwined and putting on quite a show. They were actually small--perhaps 18" long and they were more interested in each other than the visitors, so taking their picture wasn't quite as adventurous as you might think.

This is a great family attraction that is beautifully maintained and educational, and that promotes a respect for the ecology of the desert and the animals, birds, and reptiles that live there. If you are in the Tucson area, this is a highly recommended location for photographers.

The Tucson Gallery

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Mission at Tumacacori

Mission at Tumacacori
About an hour south of San Xavier del Bac (and just south of an immigration checkpoint) is the Mission at Tumacacori, abandoned and crumbling in spots, but otherwise a still beautiful site with several outbuildings surrounding the main mission. The original mission was established in 1691 is now maintained by the National Park Service. There is a small admission fee; it's well worth the cost. One note: there was restoration/repair work being done on one end of the mission and I had to be careful to not include a blue tarp in some of the pictures. Again, I found a polarizer to be helpful for many shots, especially with the blue skies, which were just a bit more saturated with a little effort.

I spent a couple of hours wandering about the mission and took photos of the exteriors of the main mission. Shades of brown are the dominant colors, the adobe being much more subdued than the stark white of San Xavier.  It also had much less traffic; there were only a handful of visitors when I was there. You won't have to worry about sightseers stepping into your frame.

The mission deserves more time than I had to devote. One could easily spend a full day and take interior photos and more abstract images. It's well worth the trip from Tucson and is a unique setting: stark, quiet and beautiful.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Like an Army, A Photographer Travels on His Stomach

If there was a "Photography Channel," I'd watch it, but there isn't, at least as far as I know, so I'm left to watch some of the other channels that pique my interest, such as the Food Network. Much to my delight, not long before I was to travel to Arizona two programs came on Food Network that promised me some good eating opportunities.

After an easy flight from Minneapolis, home of lutefisk and fast food, I arrived in Phoenix and waited, like 20 other customers, to pick up my rental car at Sky Harbor Airport (who came up with that name?) As soon as I got my car I headed for Tucson, but made a planned stop at Los Taquitos.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tucson & the Sonoran Desert

I've not been as enamored of desert scenery as some, so when I had an opportunity to spend a couple of days in the Phoenix-Tucson area this fall I decided to do a bit of research to see where I might find some interesting photo locations. As it happened, there are many beautiful places where one could spend days taking photos, so the challenge became one of concentrating on just a few. A friend of mine who had gone to college in Tucson suggested the Desert Museum just west of Tucson. I had only a few hours there but could have spent a couple of days there alone had time permitted.

Research on Google also revealed several missions and an interesting neighborhood in Tucson,  the Barrio Viejo ("old quarter.") Photographers frequently share favorite spots on Flickr and Panoramio, and that gave me some good clues. One blog thoughtfully offered a list of recommended shooting locations in the area. Tumacacori Mission, south of Tucson, looked promising. San Xavier del Bac Mission looked even more interesting.

Barrio Viejo

More to come...