Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Photographers, Again

Last week we went on our second photographers' excursion of the year. Volunteers at Tonto National Monument, about 80 miles north of us, offer mid-week photography tours of the Upper Cliff Dwelling. Rex and Peg Lavoie are in their third season as volunteers at the monument. Rex is a retired professional photographer and Peg handled the back office part of their business. She also is a photographer.

The tours are limited to seven people, but there were only four of us last week. The skies were threatening rain, but it didn't materialize until we were on the return leg of the three-mile round-trip hike to the cliff dwellings.

Between our two cameras, we took over 200 pictures. Along the way Rex gave tips about pre-visualizing the picture you want, exposure, using a tripod and a cable shutter release, and settings to get the right amount of your photo in focus. It was very helpful.

This shows the cliff dwelling we hiked to.

Because of the cloud cover, we didn't have deep shadows to contend with. That allowed me to take this photo, Doorways into the Past

We saw lots of soft colors and textures in the desert rocks and vegetation along the trail.

Thanks to my 300 mm telephoto lens, I was able to take this pictures of the upper cliff dwellings from the visitor center parking lot.

The buildings were constructed out of rock from the hillside, covered with caliche. The techniques are easy to see in this photo.

When the Salado people inhabited this cliff dwelling, the Salt River ran through the valley below. Now it is dammed to create Roosevelt lake. Those who lived there really had a room with a view.

This is one of John's pictures of the trail leading up to the cliff dwelling. Seeing leaf-covered ground in this part of Arizona is really unusual. This is such a neat image.

On our way back to the visitor center, we came on this female tarantula. (Apparently, males are black) For a while, we thought she must be dead because she stayed still for so long. Three cameras clicked away for a long time. Rex really worked at getting photos from all angles.

Peg even used a stick to see if she would react, proving she was alive. She didn't react. But then, a minute or so later, she scurried off the trail. Boy were we glad no one had tried to pick her up!


  1. For a train enthusiast your header photo is outstanding, some of those mini photography course's are really a great way to improve your skills.I carry tripod's in the truck and I'm not afraid to set one up, that last photo of you with the tripod on the ground, reminded me of a School in Crime Scene Photography I took many years ago, The instructor would have us do exactly the same thing and then point out what we missed with our eyes but the camera saw.Be safe out there. Sam & Donna.

  2. Hi John&Carol,
    Thank you for visiting our blog.
    I usually never say never...hope you do come for a visit.
    We wish you to do all the things you wanted to do but had no time till now.
    Happy Holidays.

  3. Nice shots! It sounds like you got some good tips. I should do that.