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Sonoran Sunsets - by Larry Malvin

NOTE: this exhibit appeared in July 2000. Click here to visit the current showcase.

All other exhibits: Click here to access

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Saguaro Sunset with Mountain Backdrop
Saguaro National Park, AZ

The magic hour in Saguaro National Park is quite exceptional. Because of the predominant browns, golds and yellows of the desert, the setting sun casts a golden hue across the landscape. This light lasts for approximately five minutes, ten at most. You'll want to make sure youíre precisely at the place you want to be, since time and daylight is working against you. This photograph was taken in the East District with the Rincon Mountains as a backdrop, just before the sun set behind the distant mountains.


Saguaro Panoramic Sunset
Saguaro National Park, AZ

A silhouetted landscape against a dramatic sky makes for outstanding opportunities. Here I chose to use a panoramic format to add an interesting perspective to the image.


Desert Vista
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ

Late afternoon in the Monument often brings bright blue skies with puffy white clouds. The Ajo Mountain Drive loops through the eastern part of the Monument as it winds from the desert floor into the rugged mountains seen in the distance of this photograph. 


Lone Saguaro Silhouette
Saguaro National Park, AZ

I have learned never to put away my camera away after the sun has set in Saguaro National Park. Oftentimes the sky is clear and twilight will be subdued. Other times high clouds will light the sky with reds, oranges and yellows. Silhouetting the stately saguaros against the dramatic sky often yields interesting photographs.


Signal Hill Petroglyphs
Saguaro National Park, AZ

The Signal Hill in the West District is an excellent photographic spot. From a vantage point above the valley, Iíve photographed southeast across the valley floor dotted with thousands of saguaros and the scenic mountain ranges in the distance. This Indian petroglyph in the foreground of the picture adds a unique element to the photo.


Setting Sun and Silhouetted Saguaro
Saguaro National Park, AZ

Exposure readings can be difficult when including a bright sun in the image. I simply swung the camera away from the sun, took the meter reading from the orange sky, and then recomposed. Bracketing insured I got the image I wanted.


Organ Pipe Cactus
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ

The organ pipe cactus, more common in Mexico than in the U.S., is distinguished from the saguaro by having thinner stems and arms that branch from its base rather than its central trunk.


Mt. Lemmon Sunrise
Catalina Highway, above Tucson, AZ

Above Tucson in the Catalina Mountains is a road leading to Mt. Lemmon, the most southerly ski area in the country. Great views and hiking also exist along the way. Early one morning I drove the Mt. Lemmon Highway, hoping for a nice sunrise and interesting light on the rock outcroppings that dot the mountain landscape. As I was heading around a curve, I glanced back to look where the sun would eventually rise. An incredible scene was unfolding. I quickly found a turnoff (room for only one car near a steep cliff), jumped out of the car and immediately fired off a roll of Fuji Velvia film using a 70-300 zoom lens.


Saguaro and organ pipe with mountain backdrop
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ

Long shadows are cast on the rugged mountains along Ajo Mountain Drive. The deep orange glow on the mountains provide a wonderful background for emphasizing both the saguaro and organ pipe cactus.


Red Sky Panoramic
Saguaro National Park, AZ

When clouds dot the sky near sunset, you can bet a wonderful twilight with dramatic lighting will fill the sky. Here half the sky was glowing red, providing many opportunities to capture different scenes.


Saguaro and Organ Pipe Cacti
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ

Along the first few miles of Ajo Mountain Drive, one of two graded dirt roads that wind through the Monument, are open areas with wide vistas and rugged mountains in the distance. I used to a wide angle lens to emphasize the saguaro and organ pipe and a polarizing filter to accentuate the clouds and sky. 


Sunset in Saguaro NP
Saguaro National Park, AZ

This photograph is similar to the silhouetted saguaro photo above, but taken with a 28-105 zoom lens instead of a medium telephoto, creating a different perspective of the same scene.


Golden Sunset with Background Wash
Saguaro National Park, AZ

I was struck by the golden light on the mountains, the illuminated saguaros and the rock outcroppings in the wash. Washes are great places for hiking and climbing and offer great views back toward the national park and Tucson.


Note: For best viewing, set your monitor to High Color or True Color (Thousands or Millions of Colors on MacOS) and 1024x768 pixels. These images have been carefully prepared with a Gamma of 2.2 using the BruceRGB color space. This should work well with high-quality Windows monitors. If you are a MacOS user, set your Adobe Gamma control panel to "Windows Default" or, at the last resort, choose the sRGB calibrated profile in the Color section of your Monitors control panel.

Please note:  All images featured in this showcase are Copyright Larry Malvin, all rights reserved. These images are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws and may not be used or reproduced without permission. For licensing information, or to order prints, please contact Larry Malvin at

About the Exhibit:

Saguaro National Park: I have been to Saguaro National Park five times, and I never tire of the area. Whether it is desert itself, the landscape, the stately saguaro or the stunning colors of a sunset that can last up to a half hour or more, I really cannot determine. Nor do I care. It is unlike any other area in the United States, and I find its draw irresistible.

Photographic opportunities are excellent. The golden light of late afternoon, the beautiful sunsets, the incredible twilight where blood-red clouds can light up half the sky, and the saguaros with their uniquely shaped arms create a multitude of interesting subjects.  Photograph the stands of saguaros against the rugged Tucson Mountains in the West District. Or capture 200 year old saguaro silhouetted against an orange-red sky in the East District. Chances are good you'll come away with some great images.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument: Although only 2 to 2 1/2 hours from either Phoenix or Tucson, Organ Pipe sees relatively few visitors. It is located in the extreme southern part of Arizona, approachable from either Highway 85 from Phoenix or Highway 86 from Tucson. The draw, besides the beautiful Sonoran Desert, rugged mountains and excellent hiking trails, is the rare organ pipe cactus.

The Monument is similar to Saguaro National Park in its variety of plants and outstanding scenery. I found the Monument's desert landscape even more impressive, however. Perhaps it was because I have visited Organ Pipe only once and found it more rugged and isolated, especially along the Puerto Blanco Drive that winds its way through the desert wilderness for 53 miles. Either way, a visit to either of these remarkable desert areas is a wonderful treat.

To see more examples of my work, please visit my web site at:

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About the Photographer:

Capturing the beauty and mystery of nature stems from my appreciation of the natural environment. Although I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, my love of the outdoors led me to Boulder, Colorado, where I studied Geography at the University of Colorado. It was there that I discovered photography with my first camera, the totally manual Pentax MX, which I still use today as a backup. 

My photographs have been published in Astronomy Magazine and Outside Magazine, sold in department stores and other outlets, used as a backdrop on the set of the Arsenio Hall Show, used as promotional materials for a lighting manufacturer and displayed as artwork in various homes and offices throughout the United States.

Web site awards have included Stock Solutionís Top Photo Site of the Week for 11/1/99, Top Ten Photographic Web Sites for 1999 from T. Cooper Photography and Photo Site of the Week from Welcome to My Universe. My images have also been featured on Field and Forest Online (ìLarry has produced photographs which reveal an amazing world of profound grace and beautyÖî) and is featured in Newcomb Galleryís Featured Artist section. Foto Forum also awarded "Smoky Glacier" Gallery Winner of the Month for January, 2000.

For more landscape and nature photography, please visit my website at

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