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A Landscape Shooting Experience: Superstition Mountains, Arizona

Gerry Mulligan (Gerry M)


Keywords: landscape, sunset, light, gerry, m

I am very fortunate to live in the northeast part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. It is quite a large valley. My subject, the Superstition Mountains in the Lost Dutchman State Park, formations that make for a large part of its north-eastern boundary. It can be a good hour drive to get to them from my home, sometimes longer depending on the traffic on the freeway.

General map of the area
Click for an enlargement

 

There were scattered storms forecast for the valley that day.  Watching the radar, popcorn storms started popping up for late morning and early afternoon.  I decided to drive from my home at around 2 pm. That should allow me to get to a suitable location to setup and shoot from about 3:30 PM until sunset, at about 6:35 PM. The storm clouds, although threatening, were a sky enhancement for the occasion.  So my intention was to make a study of how the changes of light changed the mountains.

To get my bearings more efficiently I use a very convenient app: “The Photographer’s Ephemeris” or TPE. The cropped screen shot below shows where I was roughly standing with the sunset location for that day (the orange line on the left).   I find this program useful when I'm planning sunrise-sunset landscape shoots. It show distance between points, bearings, elevation, when the sun and moon will rise, etc. It is available for Android, iOS and desktop.

TPE cropped screen shot of my position

 

Looking south, the Superstition Mountains are one mile away on the left and about 2 miles away on the right side from where I stood.  I was about a quarter mile down one of the trails at Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction, Arizona. 

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10 comments

mark temen (mtemen) on October 6, 2016

Very nice results. I've been in the same spot and experienced the wonder of how the light and clouds change the outcome in just minutes. You really have to be on your toes and looking in all directions. Nice work!!! Mark

Jim Jordan (Snappo) on July 28, 2016

Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015

We lived in Apache Junction at the base of the Superstitions for the first 15 years of our retirement. Great story and a wonderful place to get these great images. Excellent work Gerry.

Gerry Mulligan (Gerry M) on July 9, 2016

In terms of the changing f-stop. I have to say, it was changes that seemed to look "better" when checking the LCD at the time. In reality I don't think it made any difference at all. I probably should have simply left it at f9 and not worry about it. --Gerry

Howard J. Oechsner (Howard Oechsner) on June 6, 2016

Having lived in the best valley of Phoenix for 29 years before retiring to Santa Fe, I know those mountains well and have hiked and photographed them many times. Nice work with the shoot that day! I do have one question for you - what was your thinking behind closing the aperture a bit as it got later in the day (f9 at 4:15 pm, f11 at 5:00 pm and f13 at 6:11 and 6:34 pm). It seems the small changes would be nearly imperceptible in effecting the depth of field in such broad sweeping images. Just wondering what your thinking was.

Tom Feazel (tfeazel) on June 6, 2016

Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014

Here in Florida, I'm usually shooting sunrise and sunset directly into the sun. But your advice to turn around probably works here, as well. We have a tropical storm for most of this week, but the first chance I get, I will give that a try.

Tom Feazel (tfeazel) on June 6, 2016

Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014

Here in Florida, I'm usually shooting sunrise and sunset directly into the sun. But your advice to turn around probably works here, as well.we have a tropical storm for most of this week, but the first chance I get, I will give that a try.

Robert Boser (rboser2) on June 3, 2016

Thanks for sharing this. I loved your "4-up" showing the different light you experienced in your shoot. And thanks for the tip on the TPE app!

John Hernlund (Tokyo_John) on May 31, 2016

Spectacular work Gerry. I love those mountains, wish I could hike them every day.

Marsha Edmunds (meadowlark2) on May 30, 2016

Donor Ribbon awarded for her support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Fellow Ribbon awarded for her continuous encouragement and meaningful comments in the spirit of Nikonians. Donor Ribbon awarded for her generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded for her generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Awarded for her in-depth knowledge and high level of skill in several areas.

Gerry - You teach a good lesson with this article. Light can take on many characteristics and it is worth taking time at a location to see what develops. What a great location.

Mike Mazich (gr8330) on May 30, 2016

This is a beautiful area we live in, so desolate but with its own beauty. Nice work Gerry

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