Photography: As Shot – Saguaro with a Halo

NOTE – “As Shot” photographs are some that I have posted on Instagram, but without any imposed crop that might not be warranted, less detail reduction and more of an explanation.




Saguaro with a Halo as seen at the Jewel of the Creek Preserve, Cave Creek, AZ

One of our favorite places to hike is at the Jewel of the Creek Preserve in Cave Creek, AZ. This is a riparian area and has running water all year long. In the desert this is a commodity which is likely to attract many of its inhabitants including birds, lizards, snakes, etc.

The trails have some ups and downs, but overall the hiking is moderate at its most strenuous for those who do any amount of hiking. While on a hike, we were descending into a lower area and the sun was backlighting the edges of this saguaro. The light playing off of the surrounding foliage along with the halo over the main cactus caught my eye.

Technically, this is not the best picture. The only camera I had with me was my bridge camera which does not do too well at an ISO higher than 100 especially in this type of lighting situation. Having said that, however, there is something about this photograph that that I find artistically satisfying.

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Metadata

File Name: jewel_of_creek_IMG_0118-2.tif
Capture time: 2:27:04 PM
Capture date: Dec. 29, 2015
Exposure: 1/160 sec @ f/5.6
Focal Length: 83.27mm
ISO: 200
Camera: Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
Lens: 4.3-215mm

Edited in Lightroom and Photoshop

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Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160623

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Saguaros greet hikers along the trail
Saguaros greet hikers along the Peralta Trail

As in most areas where hikers might want to trek in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, there are a significant number of saguaros along the Peralta Trail and they appear in clusters as well as individual specimens.

They seem to “greet” hikers as they ascend the trail to the saddle or beyond. Also notice the interesting shadow play of the saguaro in the foreground.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Saguaro Along the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160606

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike (and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it) on December 2, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since then and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Hands up saguaro
Unusually shaped saguaro along the Peralta Trail

I often take photographs of plants, especially saguaros. that take on human shapes. This saguaro seems as though it is being held up in a robbery and has its hands held high. The fact that the very top of the saguaro is missing might mean that at one time it was hit by lightning.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Part of a series of photographs and descriptions depicting the areas in and around the Peralta Trail located in Gold Canyon, Arizona.

hiking, Arizona, Gold Canyon, Peralta Trail, desert, photographs, rugged, scenery

A Hike in the Agua Fria National Monument – Valentine’s Day

This may not sound like a very romantic Valentine’s Day, but for my wife and me, it was exactly the type of day we like. We took a hike in the Agua Fria National Monument in Arizona near Cordes Lakes just 40 miles or so North of Phoenix.

Agua Fria Nat'l Monumnet Sign

The area is a diverse riparian habitat which has been described as a “perennial river” meaning that there is water flowing in the area nearly all year long even though it is a semi-desert grassland.

This is what the trail looks like at the start. It hadn’t rained in a number of days so the river bed was dry and rocky.

Beginning of the Sandy Trail

As you can see many other people have been on this trail which follows the river bed and can be quite wet at times so be prepared. There are higher trails alongside most of the riverbed that can offer some drier terrain along parts of the hike if needed.

Many footprints in the sand

This was a perfect day for hiking. The weather was cool and the sky was clear and beautiful.

Boulders and vegetation appear in the river bed

This is a noted birding environment and while we saw some cardinals and a phainopepla, this curve-billed thrasher was the only picture I was able to take of the avian denizens on this day. While this isn’t the most flattering side of the bird, it does show how it got its name.

Profile of a cruve-billed thrasher

Along this stretch the stream was more pronounced.

The stream begins to run more abundantly

After hiking a bit in an easterly direction, the stream bed opens up to a river area which is more north and south in orientation. The boulders and hills form a picturesque setting even when the foliage of the landscape is not full.

picturesque area where the river is quite substantial as well as the boulder fields

Canyon walls and boulders along the banks

The nearby cliffs create a canyon wall on one side.

Cliffs around the the river bed

Detail of cliffs

On the cliff pictured above, we found this artifact which was probably used to support a cable or pipe of some sort.

An artifact of sorts for able or pipe

After continuing past this point we had to scramble across the boulder fields to continue to seek the path which would appear from amid the rocks at intervals.

More river and boulders of the Agua Fria

One challenge was finding a way to cross the river. People would seek their own “stepping stone” path hoping to make it to the other side.

Crossing the Agua Fria via boulders

While crossing the rocky terrain there would be fast running areas where the rocks would create eddys or small waterfalls.

waterfalls and eddys

Some of the literature notes that on warm summer days, pools will form where people can take a dip in the shallow water held by the circles of rocks.

Pools form amid the boulders

There was a group of hikers making their way into the canyon on this pleasant hiking day.

hiking group along the trail

Other visitors took time to sit and enjoy the tranquil setting.

Woman resting on a large section or rocks

Generally speaking, saguaro cactus do not grow in this area primarily because of the elevation, but this somewhat protected environment was well-enough suited for some to grow on the south-facing hillside.

Saguaros along the top of the cliff; unusual for this area

A number of rocks had curious patterns which I am sure geologists would be able to explain and perhaps find even more interesting than I did.

Darker gray pattern cover the rock

Butteflies were making their first forays into the field and here we see a slightly tattered Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) upside down most likely looking for a place to lay some eggs.

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Here is another picture with the wings slightly closed, but in a more appropriate and customary orientation.

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

The unusually warm days were probably responsible for this Ashen Milkvetch (Astragalus Tephrodes) to put forth its floral display. I like the detailed leaf formation of this particular plant.

Ashen Milkvetch plant with interesting leaf pattern

It was time to head home after a super hike!

Click HERE for more information about the Agua Fria


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See more JBRish hiking posts here HERE

Winter’s Light and Color in the Desert

Anyone living in Sonoran Desert will gladly acknowledge the extremes in temperatures with a knowing smile. The winter temps can get as low as freezing and of course the summers, oh the summers, can soar to near 112 degrees plus at times.

One advantage, if you will, is that with the appropriate timing, one can hike and enjoy nature all year long.

Although it is winter in the desert, we still have “fall color.” I am not suggesting that the colors of fall in our desert can compete with New England or other areas of the world where there are an abundance of shades and hues, but we do have some color. Mostly that color is gold and yellow.

We took a hike last week in mid-afternoon when temps were in the mid-50s. This saguaro was haloed in a bright yellow light with the light green and yellow leaves of the plants in front accentuating the columnar display.

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Birds such as this Black Phoebe were enjoying the sun and the nearby stream on this autumnal-like winter’s day.

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As we were leaving the hiking trail and thinking about heading home, I looked back to witness this beautiful vista.

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I thought a closeup would prove even prettier and although it is colorful, I like the wider view above.

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With the contrast of light and dark on the first picture of the saguaro, I thought perhaps with a bit of cropping, it would make a good subject for a black and white picture. Do you like the black and white or the color version?

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JBRish.com originally published this post