Tips

5 Tips for Shooting the Desert Landscapes of Arizona

Words +
Photos
| Jonathan Martin
May 09, 2018
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Barren and beautiful, the deserts of Arizona offer countless great photo opportunities. From the breathtaking Grand Canyon to stunning cacti, there are details big and small waiting to be captured. Jonathan Martin offers 5 tips for the best photos in the Arizona desert landscape

1. Stray off the beaten path.

Trails often seem to be just paved walkways full of tourists with strollers and tripods. When you can, get away from the madness and get your shoes dirty. Just be sure to keep off the wildlife. Oh, and watch out for cacti!

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2. Check the light.


Light in the desert dramatically changes the landscape. Since the Arizona mountains are uniform in color, their topography can get lost in flat, midday light. Check back in at the same location at different times of the day to see how the landscape looks in different light.

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3. Give a sense of scale.


With such vast, dramatic scenery, it’s hard to capture that jaw-dropping awe you felt when you were there. Use people, buildings, or other familiar objects to help your viewer get a sense of how big those mountains really are and how small you felt next to them.

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4. Look closer.


It’s easy to be taken back by the dramatic desert landscapes that Arizona has to offer. But look down at your feet and take a closer look. Contrary to what you might think, the desert is actually full of color. In a sea of browns, yellows, and oranges, there are pastel pinks, and blues, and greens. Challenge yourself to capture the subtleties in color.

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5. Go Low. Get high.


Get down low and shoot upward to make your scenes more dramatic. Make the cactus feel like it’s towering over you, or get down in the valley to show how huge that cliff-face feels.

Likewise, get up high to show the vastness of the landscape. Hike up a mountain (bring tons of water—the desert can be brutal) or take a helicopter tour to see how far those mountains run.

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