South Mountain Park is a treasure, a gem in the middle of a huge city. The seven mile drive to the top of the mountain brings new views and surprises at every turn and there are a lot of curves on the road. We have made two trips in the last week. The first was as the storm was moving in so there were lots of clouds and a cool breeze. The second was the morning after the storm where the mountain top was covered with fog, moving clouds and lots of standing water.
There are few parking places on the drive up. Use any of the main parking spots and a short easy hike gets you into great photo opportunities.
You can't go to South Mountain without a stop at Los Dos Molinos, Tom's favorite Mexican food restaurant. It is located on Central Avenue just north of the park entrance. Be aware that their food is spiced HOT but there are a couple of items on the menu that anyone can handle and their staff is well versed in guiding you through the selection process. While you wait for your food you can photograph a potpourri of interesting items.
ISO 400, f/11, 1/125 at 24mm with Nikon D600 and 24-70mm lens.
You would think these rocks would indicate a steep hike. Not so! Close to the road, an easy stroll. That is just how wonderful this place can be. Spring rocks with wildflowers.
ISO 400, f/13, 1/200 at 70mm with Nikon Df and 24-120mm Nikkor lens.
ISO 400, f/16, 1/90 at 24mm with Nikon D600 and 24-70mm Nikkor lens.
ISO 400, f/13, 1/320 at 55mm with Nikon Df and 24-120mm Nikkor lens.
ISO 640, fl13, 1/250 at 50mm with Nikon Df and 24-220mm Nikkor lens.
Then the rain came! A lot of it. Tom and I headed up the mountain early, catching fog along the way. It was a wondrous trip.
ISO 400, f/8, 1/1250 at 105mm with Nikon D800 and 24-120mm Nikkor lens.
ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/4000 at 98mm with Nikon D7000 and 70-300mm Nikkor lens.
ISO 100, f/11, at 24mm with Nikon D600 and 24-70mm Nikkor lens. Processed as an HDR.
ISO 200, f/8, 1/1600 at 82mm with Nikon D800 and 24-120mm Nikkor lens. Uh, those white spots are water drops reflecting from branches!
Speaking of water drops . . . I spent most of my time trying to get a good one! Not often you get a chance to photograph a naturally occurring one in Phoenix. This one turned out to be my favorite because it captured both blue sky and clouds along with branches gone wild in a drop.
ISO 200, 1/800 with No CPU lens on Nikon D800. Lens is a 55mm Nikkor micro. Aperture most likely 5.6 with manual focus on a tripod.
There was a close contender . . .
ISO 200, 1/160 with No CPU lens on Nikon D800. Lens is a 55mm Nikkor micro. Aperture most likely 5.6 with manual focus on a tripod. Fortunately, the D800 accepts older Nikkor lens and they are such fun!
ISO 250. f/11, at 40mm with Nikon D600 and 24-70mm Nikkor lens. Processed as an HDR.
ISO 250, f/11 at 24mm with Nikon D600 and 24-70mm Nikkor lens. Processed as an HDR.
ISO 250, f/9.5 at 48mm with Nikon D600 and 24-70mm Nikkor lens. Processed as an HDR.
Panorama like shots were challenging but worth the effort to see the Valley in such a different way.
ISO 200, f/13, 1/250 at 35mm with Nikon D800 and 16-35mm Nikkor lens.
Ah, and the reflection opportunities. Wowza!
ISO 100, f/11, 1/125 at 34mm with Nikon D600 and 24-70mm Nikkor lens.
ISO 400, f/11, at 24mm with Nikon D800 and 24-120mm Nikkor lens. Processed as an HDR, then processed in Nik Silver Effects and then adjusted in Photoshop using layers to bring out blue sky! The D800 captures a very wide dynamic range but no setting could get me detail in the sky and inside the sturcture. That is one time that HDR can be handy. Of course, how much structure you want in an HDR is a matter of taste and I went all out for fun. After all that processing I felt like I neede and real break! Time to pick up my camera go shoot!!!
This is the color version before Silver Effects and photoshopping the sky and clouds. There is more ghosting around the windows because I did not take it back into photoshop and correct with layers (Tom would have).
The stone was still very wet and that made for much more detail in the scene. This one is not an HDR.
ISO 400, f/8, 1/1250 at 120mm with Nikon D800 and 24-120mm Nikkor lens.
Finally, everything was wet with dew. Even the smallest wildflowers . . .
ISO 800, 1/2000 with No CPU lens on Nikon D800. Lens is a 55mm Nikkor micro. Aperture most likely 5.6 with manual focus. Was windy, no tripod set up so low on muddy ground. Too much noise for my taste but I wanted to share these smallest of water drops. These flowers are about the size of a quarter of a small pinky nail.
Next time it rains in Phoenix I am headed back to South Mountain Park.