Sonoita Creek SNA, Arizona, USA by Jonathan Cook

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Southern Arizona is a great destination for landscape shots and showcases a diversity of desert lands beyond the classic Sonoran scenes with saguaros. The sunrises and sunsets are incredible (even by Arizona standards) and the area is far enough off the beaten track that you can have mountains all to yourself. I was recently there for a couple of weeks and got to do some early morning exploring with my dog. We were staying nearby and the trail network of the preserve was perfect for our morning walks. This shot is from the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area near Patagonia Lake on a cold winter morning. The Sonoita Creek trail cuts through the native ocotillos and mesquites, winding its way over the rolling hills while remnants of the morning colors linger on the horizon.

We came back to this trail multiple times and each visit highlighted a different element of the landscape. I was drawn to this particular shot since I thought it highlighted all of the area’s features in a balanced way. The land isn’t exactly inviting, yet there’s a certain calm and peacefulness to the scene that was appealing to capture. I like the shapes of the hills and vegetation and the tone of the sky. I also was struck by the subdued winter colors and can imagine how the same scene would look very different in the spring with the desert in bloom. Finally, the line of the trail helps lead the eye through the image and tie everything together.

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