Cathedral Rocks, Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is a popular travel destination and a great location for landscape photography, marked by iconic red rock formations
Cathedral Rocks, Sedona, Arizona
Cathedral Rocks, Sedona, Arizona.

Sedona is a popular location in the north-central portion of Arizona. It’s notorious for its landscape marked by iconic red rock formations, which can take on an incredible fiery hue when lit by the light of the sun, especially during its first and final hours of shining each day. For years, these red rocks have drawn a multitude of visitors, ranging from avid mountain bikers and hikers seeking to be out in nature and scoping the landscape up close, to tourists looking to enjoy the variety of fine dining and to browse the many galleries filled with unique art and other wares in its culturally rich downtown area, to photographers such as myself, as everywhere you look seems to abound with photographic opportunities.

Weather In Sedona, Arizona

Because of its location in the state and its altitude of approximately 4,300 feet above sea level, Sedona enjoys a mostly mild climate with some seasonal variations, but never usually on the extreme end of the spectrum in terms of cold or heat. While winters can see some occasional dustings of snow, they usually only last until the next cloud break that allows the sun to penetrate through and melt most of the snow away. Spring and fall are very pleasant, and for leaf-peepers, autumn does afford the opportunity to capture a bit of the golds and oranges in the foliage of the tall sycamore and cottonwood trees that dot the landscape. Especially popular for this activity is the nearby Oak Creek Canyon just north of town.

Because of Oak Creek flowing through the region, riparian areas alongside the water offer additional diversity to the outdoor experience year-round, including the opportunity to cool off during a hot summer day at a couple of the often-visited local parks. As is typical of Arizona summers, monsoon storms can build up during most afternoons, which not only quell any rising temperatures but also provide dramatic backdrops to the landscape. If you have never heard thunder in Sedona, it’s quite the auditory treat, as it seems to echo among all of the tall rock structures, amplifying its original sound into a lingering sensation.

Best Times For Photography

Sedona is an amazing place to visit any time of year. And it definitely is a place that could occupy many days and even weeks to explore all of its trails, vantage points and charms. Whether you simply want to be amazed from the seat of your car and take a scenic drive through the area, or you want to get out and explore the back country on a commercially offered jeep tour, or if you want to hit the trails and find a place of solitude to reflect and enjoy nature during the day or under a star-filled sky at night, you can always find something of interest to do and enjoy in Sedona.

Photo Experience In Sedona

I had visualized an approximation of this photo in my mind before setting out to capture it. Knowing the position of the Milky Way in the sky at different times of the night and times of the year helped in planning my shoot. Also, in order to help capture that glow on the rocks in the distance, famously known as Cathedral Rocks, I planned my journey to be on a night when a small sliver of moon would be out during part of the time so as not to drown the visibility of the galaxy, but to add just a touch of natural illumination to the landscape.

I hiked a little ways and arrived early to compose my shot, and angled my tripod as low as I could near the reflecting pool. As I waited for nightfall, the busy location brimming with people trying to cool off in the creek gradually began to become more vacant and more quiet, until all I could hear were the sounds of summer insects and the flowing water.

In order to capture the depth of field in this image, I knew that I’d need to use a focus-stacking technique, taking several shots in succession without moving the camera or tripod, but changing the focus in order to allow the camera to see both near, middle and far. My Nikon D810 and AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm F2.8G ED lens, along with a Manfrotto tripod with a Really Right Stuff ballhead, helped me achieve this goal. When darkness fell, I didn’t have very much time to capture the Milky Way, as it was already beginning to rise farther above the rock structures by the time it became visible. Eventually, it crept out of the frame and higher yet into the sky above. I hope my image and description conveys the sense of peace and wonder that I felt in capturing it.

Contact: Sedona Chamber of Commerce, visitsedona.com.


See more of Theresa Rose Ditson’s photography at facebook.com/treerosephotography, 500px.com/theresaroseditson and flickr.com/treerosephotography.

1 Comment

    Excellent photo & thanks for mapping out location of your shot. Surprised you didn’t mention monsoon season, which can lead to some exceptional cloud formations, but also flash flooding hazard.

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