In Search of Wildflowers By Dick Paige | Published Mar 11 2015
It’s that time of the year for me to head out and photograph Wildflowers in the desert. The past few years have not been good for Wildflowers, not enough rain during the winter months. This past winter was different, we got some good rains at the right times to kick start the blooming of the flowers.
One of my favorite places to go is a very remote area called Cabeza Prieta, and the Barry Goldwater Bombing Range, down along the Arizona Mexican border between Ajo and Yuma Arizona. Each year you have to stop at the BLM office in Ajo and get your permit, you have to watch a video making you aware of the danger of unexploded bombs and that this area is the main corridor for the Mexican Cartels to smuggle drugs into the United States. With permits in hand my partner (Wayne Moshier) and I head out on the El Camino Del Diablo (The Highway of Death) a rough 4WD road. Right away we can see that the Desert is looking good, the ocotillo is blooming and everything is green, this is not normal in this part of the Sonoran Desert. Hopes are high as we continue down the road, heading for a area called Pinta Sand Dunes, where the Wildflowers can be spectacular, in 2008 the last good year for Wildflowers we could smell the Sand Verbena miles before we could see them. Reaching are destination hopes quickly vanished, as we could not smell or see any Wildflowers, parking the car and loading up my backpack with 35 Pounds of camera gear we head out across the desert to the sand dunes about a mile away just to make sure we are not missing anything, unfortunately are first impressions were right, no Wildflowers. Making the decision to cut are trip through Cabeza Prieta short, we head out to Christmas Pass and over to the KOFA Wilderness.
Reaching our destination late in the evening just before sunset we make camp for the night, the weather was perfect so we decide not to put up our tent and just sleep under the stars, one of my most favorite things to do. As a photographer one of the things I have learned is that you need to adapt, if there are no Wildflowers then why not do night photography, which is what I did for the next three nights, two in the KOFA and the last night in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. When shooting Star Trails the main thing you need is clear sky’s, and no city lights. The first night was perfect no clouds and a Waxing Moon rising around midnight, the next two night had clouds coming through messing up part of my shooting, but was still able to get a little over five hours of shooting.
Here is the results of my three nights of shooting the stars, if anyone is interested in how I create these images contact me and maybe I will do a blog on how to shoot star trails.