Painted Sky

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Saguaro cacti against a colorful Arizona sunset west of Phoenix, Arizona.  I created this image by capturing three images  f14, ISO 100, /1/500 second with one each + 2  EV and -2 EV, and creating an HDR merge in Lightroom. After merging, I continued editing with Topaz Studio using the precision contrast and detail adjustments along with HSL Color Toning adjustments. I love how Topaz brings out the details in an image.

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Arizona Landscape

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It is always nice, at least in my opinion to see the glow around cacti when the sun strikes the spines just right. The cactus in the foreground is a Cholla Cactus, which is one of the best, if not the best, in my area for catching that light. I stopped down my aperture to f20 to get the star effect and waited for the sun to get positioned just right for this image. I bumped us the warm tones with white balance in Lightroom.  I also used Topaz Clarity to increase contrast and Topaz Detail to bring out a little bit more details. I also did a little some dodging and burning in Photoshop to lighten highlights and darken the shadows some.

35mm, f20, 1/50 sec, ISO 100.

You may see a larger version of this image here in Flickr.

Last Light

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One of my rare Arizona desert landscapes without cactus. This image was captured at the Skyline Regional Park, Buckeye, Arizona along a hiking trail. I stopped down my aperture to f14 to get the star effect as the sun was fixing to go down, behind the mountain. I also used the adjustment brush in Lightroom to brighten the rocks in the lower right to give the effect of the light striking them. Then I lightened slightly a bit of the landscape between the rocks and the sun and to the ridge of the mountain to create paths for the eyes to follow to the sun. The eyes will either go straight from the rock to the sun, or travel up to the ridge of the mountain, then down to the sun. I also used the adjustment brush to darken some of the shadows. You may see a larger version here on my Flickr or here on 500px.

Glowing Cholla

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One good thing about photographing Cholla cacti is the glow they create when the sun strikes the spines just right. There are two types of Cholla in this scene, the Teddy Bear Cholla and Buckhorn Cholla.The two cacti in the foreground in the lower right are Teddy Bear Cholla then right behind them, there are Buckhorn Cholla.