A non-photographer friend and I searched for this dramatic angle of a peak in Arizona's Superstition Mountains for hours, failing on our first hiking attempt. The second time around, hiking through the backcountry desert, we succeeded in finding the general area, but only by getting personal with some cholla cactuses, as we both got spun on our mission.
Although beautiful, these landmarks are to be protected and present a natural roadblock for hikers. These plants have always intrigued me when it comes to photography, as they are so different from anything I have in my home country of Canada.
This shot was taken at twilight and is a focus stack of many photos to ensure the cactus's entire spiny texture comes out in focus. Furthermore, in post-processing, I decided to add a shine to some of the more pronounced stars to emphasise that part of the photo.
Arizona is beautiful all year round, but clear astrophotography nights are unavailable all year. During the summer monsoon season, there are periods when storms dominate the area and star photography is not possible. Finally, be wary of rattlesnakes and other wildlife when hiking in the backcountry.
This photo was definitely a large undertaking, physically and photographically, but I am pleased with how it turned out in the end!
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor