Papago Park Sunsets for Photographers

Papago Park makes a great urban park. It’s a wonderful place for nearby residents to hike, mountain bike, and walk the dog. Plus, it’s a great place to watch the sunset, especially if you’re game to hike up to the top. But if you want photos of the landscape without people in them, then you might just avoid the frustration and try elsewhere.

On top of the people issues, there are signs everywhere that the park closes at sunset. For a landscape photographer looking to see what the blue hour might yield, you have to do so under constant worry that you might get a ticket for using the parking lot after sunset.

I talked to a couple hikers and they said they hadn’t had a problem, but they also acknowledged that they wouldn’t be there very long that night. With the days getting shorter, it’s getting harder to get enough time to walk before it’s too dark.

Still, sunset views like this one have the power to melt the stress of the day away.

Papago Park
It’s a nice view at first glance, then you notice the people camped in the middle of the frame.

As long as you go into it knowing you’ll get mostly “snapshots” vs. “keepers,” you’ll be happy with the views and your walk.

On the other hand, if you’re a portrait or wedding photographer, you may just love the park. In the hour before sunset, the light hits the sandstone buttes and warms everything up.

For this Phoenix destination, it’s all in what you make of it.

Desert Botanical Garden Delights Photographers

The entrance at Desert Botanical Garden, complete with Chilhuy glass sculptures.

I have loved gardens my whole life. Vegetable, flower, tree or grass–they all work their magic on me. When I decided to play tourist in my new hometown of Phoenix,┬áthe Desert Botanical Garden was #1 on my list to explore and share with you.

The garden provides stunning mountain views decorated with saguaro cacti for the landscape photographer. These majestic cacti only grow in the Sonoran Desert.

Thousands of plants and flowers invite the macro photographer to bend over and take just one more detail shot.

Plus, special art exhibits, great dining and musical events make Desert Botanical Garden a year-round destination for the travel photographer and writer in me to explore and document.

The current art exhibit by Jun Kaneko compels visitors to Instagram and take selfies. Don’t forget to tag #desertbotanicalgarden.

Here are my top 3 tips to get the most out of your visit to the Desert Botanical Garden.

1. Choose Sunrise, Sunset or Both
For the best light and more than mediocre photos, plan your visit to take advantage of sunrise or sunset. Or, enjoy the best of both and visit first thing in the morning on day one, capping your visit with lunch at the Patio Cafe or Gertrude’s restaurant. And follow that up with an afternoon visit on the following day, culminating in a gorgeous desert sunset.

2. Go Wide
To give your audience a sense of place, be sure to capture several wide angle shots that give them a sense of what it means to visit the gardens. Choose features that make the landscape unique over your normal everyday view. The landscape designers at DBG have made your job of getting an interesting foreground element along with the mountain view pretty easy.

3. Get Quiet
Search out the water features and contemplative garden to enhance your visit to this desert oasis. Plus, if you’re patient, there are several spots where you might get a chance for a quick shot of a rabbit, parrot, or lizard.

I can’t tell you how much I love this place. Coming from a long line of farmers and gardeners, I guess that’s really not surprising.

Stay tuned for my next adventure.

Sabbatical Dreams

I’m ready to go and see new people, places, and things. Drink some wine. Relax. Recharge. Talk with people about what excites them. I’m ready to jump into different cultures. Experience the unknown. To see what there is to see and report back.

I’ve been saving for this trip for seven years. It’s my sabbatical dream trip. I have 8 weeks off plus 1 week of vacation for 9 weeks time away from work.

I’ve wanted to go to Australia and New Zealand for awhile, but I reserved them for this trip so I had more time to explore. And then a little bit more dreaming happened, and I tacked on some island hopping in French Polynesia–Papeete, Mo’orea, and Bora Bora–to the end of the trip.

On the way home I’ll stop in Kauai for a few days to break up the long flight home. Then I’m back in Phoenix with a little time to relax at home and prepare to re-enter work life again.