Tucson and Southern Arizona
While in Tucson, stroll through its colorful downtown neighborhoods. The Barrio Viejo (Spanish for old quarter or town) and El Presidio neighborhoods comprise the largest collection of 19th-century adobe buildings in the U.S. and boast unique history and character. Explore on foot so you can photograph the hand-painted murals, historic architecture (such as the Teatro Carmen, one of Tucson's first theaters showcasing dramatic works in Spanish), and brightly painted buildings. Look up. Look down. Get in close. Turn your camera sideways. Focus on small details—meticulous metal work on a doorknob or faux flowers popping out of a mailbox—as well as the bigger picture, like a row of white houses with quirky street lamps.
Tips to Get the Best Shot Anywhere
Many novice photographers believe a bright, sunny day is ideal for taking pictures. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Bright sun tends to wash out your subject, producing a lackluster image. A sky bursting with billowing clouds and inclement weather adds excitement and provides better color saturation. For instance, it’s oh-so-hot in Tucson and Phoenix during the summer months, but it’s also monsoon season, which translates to cloud formations, thunder, lightning, and fast and furious torrents of rain.
You’ll want to stay safe and dry during any storm, but before and after a downpour are great times to photograph giant cactus in the Saguaro National Park or Desert Botanical Garden for the natural “special effects.” Think about light, texture, color, form, and composition. When in doubt, take the shot—more than once—from as many different angles as you can.
Sunrise and sunset are often the best times of day for photography. The golden light that hits a landscape illuminates all its magnificent features. Sunsets, for the most part, are more spectacular after a storm—or any evening when there are scattered high clouds to reflect the light.
Don’t forget to stick around after the show is over. About 20 minutes after the sun has set, there’s often an afterglow, which can be even more dramatic than the sunset. Since the light will be low during these hours, and you’ll need a longer shutter speed, consider using a tripod to ensure your images are sharp. Don’t own a tripod? Then steady your camera on a rock, fence, or other stable object