Anza Borrego Barrel Cactus Sunrise 1

Anza Borrego Barrel Cactus Sunrise 1

This is my favorite image from my recent 10 day trip to California. I spent the first half of my trip in Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The wildflowers were not blooming as I had hoped, but I still put in a few days effort scouting, hiking, & patiently waiting for something interesting to happen at sunrise. On my third day, I awoke to my ideal lighting conditions. In the pre-dawn light I could see stars over the desert to the east and the faint glow of the approaching sunrise. To the west, clouds hovered patiently over the mountains eagerly anticipating the first golden rays of sunlight. I drove up to the park visitor center, grabbed my gear, and headed straight towards the base of the hills. I spent about 20 minutes searching for the perfect foreground for the wide-angle shot that I envisioned that included the mountain & cloud background. Once I found this group of 4 barrel cactus, I had my total composition. All I had to do was wait a few more minutes for the clouds to light up, which gave me enough time to refine my tripod placement, test my depth of field, and perfectly place my Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer & 2-stop Hard Graduated Neutral Density Filter.

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10 thoughts on “Anza Borrego Barrel Cactus Sunrise 1

  1. Beautiful work.

    wonderful light, composition, and sense of open space.

    I fell on one of those when I was a kid living in Hesperia. OUCH! Only had to pull a few needles out.

  2. I lived in Tucson for 5 years during college. I learned the hard way trail running with a jumping cholla stuck to the inside of my shoe & hiking cross-country into shin daggers. Ouch is right!

  3. Nice composition. I see this was shot at f22 which is understandable considering your dof needs. I’ve heard some complain that stopping down a lens that far makes it not as sharp. Comments? Also, noted ISO 200. Can you tell much difference on the 5d Mk vs. ISO 100?

  4. From shooting medium & large format for so long, I out of habit stop down to f22. I should probably shoot more at f16, because I can see that being a little bit sharper. I can not tell the difference between ISO 100-400 on my 5DmkII. Much easier to shoot than Velvia 50 with reciprocity failure at ISO 25!

  5. Gorgeous image, and beautiful description!! A man of many talents.

  6. Did you use a medium format camera for this shot?

  7. I stopped shooting my beloved Pentax 67II over 1 year ago. My work is now done entirely digital. I shoot a Canon 5DmkII. I need to buy a 2nd one as a backup & I plan to buy a 7D for shooting wildlife in Alaska this summer. This is the first time in 8 years that I only have 1 camera body. Creepy!

  8. That’s the money shot. Another OP cover?

  9. Wonderful subtle light here, Jon. The cactus is for me otherwordly (speaking as a Korean in subarctic Norway ;-p Take care, Jon!

  10. Beautiful shot! This was always the kind of shot I had hoped to get before moving out of Arizona.

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