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Arizona Sunset @ Kofa National Wildlife Refuge
Lens: DFA 15-30/f2.8 Camera: K1 Photo Location: KOFA Arizona ISO: 100 Shutter Speed: 1s Aperture: F8 
Posted By: interested_observer, 07-10-2019, 04:08 PM

KofA - which stands for King of Arizona is named after a gold mine in the area (actually there are lots of them out there). Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is nearly 700,000 acres large - in the middle of nowhere (well it's north and boarders the Yuma Proving Grounds) and backs up to another 600,000 acre desert wilderness area.. There is a mountain range (which is essentially a 50 mile long, 3,000 foot high volcanic plug) - the Kofa Mountains that run north and south which sits smack in the center of the area. Behind the mountains (or east - is just some extremely rough and remote desert/mountain terrain you will ever find.

I've been wanting to come out to this location for several years now to shoot the Milky Way. It's a 3 hour drive each way, 175 miles from Phoenix, south east of Quartzsite and north east of Yuma. The mountains are oriented perfectly - all you need to do is get here, and July is essentially the last month to get the shot. My wife has always persuaded me to not go alone, at least not without someone else (and she says - "you want me to go out with you tromping through the desert in the middle of nowhere at night, when its 111 out? What kind of crazy are you?").

I met Matt (new PF member - @Tennpiece) at a camera workshop put on by a local camera shop, lead by a photographer from Arizona Highways ($99 bucks rather than the $4k Arizona Highways charges - but minus the exotic locations), a couple of months ago. He had just picked up his first DSLR - a K70 a couple of weeks before. We have been going out shooting astro several times now. We tried to make the trip a week earlier - but everything didn't work out - so it was punted to July 3rd.

We got a late start - had to work late, and my Mom had a somewhat last minute doctors appointment - so delay 2 hours. We arrived a bit later than expected, with the sun sinking in the west. It looked like we had missed sunset - but then all of a sudden everything lite up, and there was a field of jumping cholla right off the road - right at our destination. We parked, open up the back of the SUV, pulled out and set up the camera gear quickly, scooted across the road, through a small wash trying to avoid even getting close to the cholla, to drop out backpacks, setup the tripods and - we missed it. (see the link - second image). This is the consolation prize.We should have been in place 20 minutes before hand - but next time. The images -
  • The first image is the consolation prize, used the wrong lens - should have shot over the foreground and found a better composition, but it is what it is. Would of, could of, should of....... This is bracketed, and I really did not over cook / process it. This was the pretty typical Arizona sunset. The sun is down and the colors are still working the sky.
  • The second image is what was behind me at the time. It's a 7 shot bracketed pano. Then 2 minutes later, someone turned down the lights and the sunset was over, light and the colors gone. Evening was upon us.

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Last edited by interested_observer; 07-11-2019 at 08:28 PM.
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07-10-2019, 04:57 PM   #2
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Very nice! That must have been spectacular to see.
07-10-2019, 06:40 PM   #3
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Thanks for a very good story and for sharing your very good photos! There is something magical about the desert at sunset. I worked in the Mojave Desert over the course of a year many, many years ago and although not as beautiful as the AZ deserts, it had some stunning scenery nonetheless.
07-10-2019, 09:02 PM   #4
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Nice shots and a fabulous place to be.

07-10-2019, 09:34 PM   #5
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Happy accident!
07-11-2019, 01:18 PM   #6
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A good story that really is informative about what landscape photography is all about. And beautifully illustrated!

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