Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saguaro Cactus and City Lights

We took this photo just after sunset while we were waiting for the moon to rise. You can see the saguaro cactus and the Scottsdale city lights. The cactus was in complete darkness.

We used the technique of painting the cactus with light.  We set a long exposure time on the camera and used our large tripods that we had hauled up the mountain. 

How do you paint with light? My husband laid down on the desert floor with a flashlight and he slowly painted the cactus with the light from the flashlight while our cameras were capturing the scene on a long exposure. 

Of course we had not heard the rattlesnake until after we finished these shots; otherwise he would not be laying down on the ground with a rattler nearby. Look next for the full moon photos we took while on Camelback Mountain that same night.

25 comments:

henny said...

I didn't know taking night shots could be this exciting (except for the rattlesnake). My tripod is too weak for my camera, and my shaky hands are not helping either. Wow, so this is a larger view of Scottsdale at night?

brattcat said...

Julie, this is so fascinating. The story behind the shot enhances our appreciation of the shot. You are building tension, just like any good storyteller. We know you and your husband survived this adventure but you are doing a beautiful job of helping us BE there with you.

Bergson said...

a beautiful sunset of cactus

Buenos Aires Photoblog said...

Great sea of light! Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend.

Virginia said...

Rattlesnake nearby???Yikes. Neat effect though. I'd be outta there!
V

Cezar and Léia said...

Hello Julie!
Your blog is so cool! Congratulations!
This post is amazing!
Many thanks for so kind visit and comment in our kitty's blog ( Luna ).
Have a nice weekend
God bless you
Léia

B Squared said...

I'd like to see a shot of your faces when you heard the Rattlesnake.

Sharon said...

I like this! I need to play around with this technique!

Christopher Raun Leth said...

Another beautiful photo. The painting of the cactus works perfectly.

Jacob said...

I have never heard of painting with a flashlight during a long exposure...terrific idea, and again, the proof is in the pudding - love this shot of the Valley!

magiceye said...

wow! tremendous effort for a fantastic shot!

altadenahiker said...

Anything for art. I'd say it was worth it.

Snapshutter said...

Nice going. I've tried similar, including a flash. Using a flash (firing it manually, not attached to camera) can illuminate very large areas. If interested what that looks like check under 'Night Photos' tag on site for the country side night shots using a flash.

Naturegirl said...

Julie! I don't know how I happened to
drop in on your blog but I'm now a follower as you can see on your list!
I winter in Paradise Valley..we have a condo on Shea and Tatum Rd.area!Love love Scottsdale..my son lives there reason why we sunbird there!
I've done ((many)) posts from there..my impression..labelled ::vacation Arizona::..if you'd like to see from a visitors eye view..your
heaven on earth...when I arrive it's Spring in the desert and I delight in all the blossoms
I see!
A pleasure to meet you and I surely
will keep in touch...you never know
we may meet next year when I'm there! smiles NG

Dave-CostaRicaDailyPhoto.com said...

Julie left out the prequel and the swquel to the story behind these photos. We had mother's day tea at the Phoenician Resort, then after saying goodbye to her mother and grandmother, we took photos in the Phoenician Resort cactus garden in our nice clothes when it was more than 100 degrees in the late afternoon.

Then Julie got the inspiration to take late afternoon photos of the Phoenician Resort golf course and Jokake Inn, so we raced home to change and raced back (less than a half mile) to get those photos before sunset. After taking those photos, Julie then decided we should try the night photos from Camelback Mountain. We raced home again to get the tripods and flash lights.

We then had to hike up the mountain and we feared that the moon would come up before we got to the overlook, so we walked up at full speed, without stopping, gasping for breath. You can get a sense for how high the hike was by looking at the difference in elevation from the valley floor in the photo.

When we got to the overlook for the photo, we soon realized that both of us were ignorant of the timing of the moon rise. It changes time by moving later each night by about an hour. We raced up the mountain based upon the time that the moon rose the day before, but all of our hurrying gave us the opportunity to wait longer.

Julie also neglected to mention that notwithstanding my efforts of laying down on the dirt and rocks of the desert (despite the potential presence of snakes and scorpions) to be able to "paint" the cactus with light in this photo, she neglected even to check all of the dirt and debris that clung to the sweat-soaked back of my shirt until after we had hiked all the way back down the mountain and I got into our car and transferred the leaves and dirt from my shirt to the tan leather seats of the car.

This was not a typical Saturday evening.

Lois said...

It's a gorgeous shot Julie! Thanks for explaining how you did it.

glenda said...

This is just really a great picture. Well worth the night hike.

Don and Krise said...

Very nice Julie. I've been wanting to try light painting. Also I love the story that goes along with the photo. Often times there is more to getting the picture than the rest of us realize. Good work!

Tricia said...

Now that's a technique worth trying out! You really captured it beautifully - I love the thought of being on a mountain looking down on a city of lights - minus the rattlers, of course! LoL! Thank goodness he wasn't bit

Prospero said...

This is simply a beautiful (and creative) shot. I can't wait to see more.

Abe Lincoln said...

Rattler must have enjoyed your photo shoot and forgot to bite.

Scottsdale is huge. I think I was there around 1952 and it was about one or two blocks long. Smaller than Tucson but larger than Tombstone. I can't imagine what Tucson looks like at night. A mountain used to be the onl thing you could see at night around there.

Tash said...

Fabulous photo! And the saguaro is so well painted! (I had not heard of that technique & OMGosh on the rattler!) Loved Dave's expansion on the story.

Jim said...

I am going to have to get someone to help me try that.

Dusty Lens said...

love the night scene. The cactus pops out, and the danger with rattlers. What we won't do for our hobby.
Light painting, cool idea. I have never tried this technique, but must give it a try.

Layrayski said...

Wow what beautiful series of photos! I love your tip of painting the cactus with light! Thank you! =)

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