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Most people think of deserts as lifeless, hostile environs, but naturalists and landscape photographers know that they are anything but that. After plentiful winter rains, many deserts explode in colorful displays of wildflowers in early spring. When we first arrived in Phoenix in mid-March, we saw great displays of Mexican poppies at Bartlett Lake. Two weeks later after returning from California, we ended our wildflower chase at the foot of the Superstition Mountains in Lost Dutchman State Park on the eastern outskirts of the Phoenix area.
The park draws its name from a legendary or perhaps imaginary gold mine originally developed by Mexicans. So it is the mine that is “lost,” not the Dutchman, who was actually a German and died of old age in Phoenix! The park has an extensive campground including some cabins. The adjacent Phoenix suburb of Apache Junction has hotels. There are plenty of trails in the park for exploring.
We arrived at the beginning of April as the wildflower season was winding down but were still treated to large displays of yellow brittlebush. I was surprised to find only one other photographer at sunset. He had set up a large format film camera. Not wanting to disturb him, I wandered off and in doing so, discovered a nice clump of brittlebush with a saguaro in the midfield and the mountains just entering the frame in the background. This image was made just before sunset. For images like this, I like to use my 24mm tilt-shift lens, employing both functions for depth of field and perspective control.
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