#385. A Black & White walk along Phoenix’s Holbert Trail

By pascaljappy | Travel Photography

Jul 28

DSC04111-2Let’s pause the travelogue for a while.

DSC04216-PanoFor those of you who don’t get what I’m on about, my past few posts have been about pretty sites a long drive away from my lovely holiday home in Phoenix : Grand Canyon, Holbrook, Monument Valley, Biosphere.

DSC04214-PanoBut my real photo love is the less-renowned-yet-lovely. The out-of-the-tourist-guide-yet-photon-titillating.

DSC04202And, boy, does Phoenix have a boat load of those.DSC04203Case in point: the Holbert Trail.

Among other charms, Phoenix boasts ancient dwelling sites with Petroglyphs, just 30 minutes out-of-town.

DSC04206-PanoThe Holbert Trail is one of the trails that take you to one of these sites. And it gets a trop recommendation from me for anyone in the vicinity. DSC04201The drive to the foothills of the Superstition Mountains itself is worth your while (see directions). It takes you through a newly developed area with beautiful desert vegetation (Cholla and Saguaro cactuses, plus lots more I can’t put a name on) and wonderful adobe houses (well, wooden house with a an adobe house design, but wonderful nonetheless).

DSC04209-PanoDSC04204 At the trailhead, you’ll find a car park from which it doesn’t take long for great views over the valley.  DSC04194-PanoThe trail is semi-steep but easy-going, and it takes roughly an hour of walk through gradually denser vegetation culminating in clumps of 50 foot saguaro giants.  DSC04148DSC04145DSC04144DSC04138-PanoDSC04128-2DSC04115-2 DSC04187 DSC04185-PanoDSC04107DSC04103DSC04159-PanoClose to the end of the trail, you reach a set of pools and waterfalls with a gazillion petroglyphs on the rocks. It’s a little hot in the summer (he says, pouring) so the shade and air flow at this final location put the finishing touches to the sensation of awe.DSC04173-PanoGear talk:

(1) BRING WATER. As in, a lot. Add sun screen, a hat and good walking shoes / boots.

(2) Lenses : thanks to a scolding from co-author Philippe for using too much of my 35mm and 50mm lenses, I took a 15/2.8 Distagon and 85/1.4 OTUS. Many of the photographs on this page are stitched from several frames. The pic above, for instance, is made from 8 individual frames with the OTUS 85. And the 15/2.8 is great for making little cholla look like full-size trees. Midrange lenses (35-50) probably wouldn’t be as useful here.

DSC04174-PanoAnd the black and white?

It all started with my inability to get to grips with the white balance of my Sony A7r. I tried 5 frames and couldn’t get any of them to look like the original scene. And the B&W looked so much better, I stuck to it for the rest of the series.

As for the OTUS shots, I experimented with various apertures. It has been pointed out to me by my secret mentor that my use of the OTUS 85 during my review period leaned too systematically towards full aperture 😉



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  • Sean says:

    Hi Pascal,
    It’s definitely a bonus here to see these images in B&W. What i appreciate about them is that the B&W approach has really got to the bones of the particular environment. That is, it’s quite possible that if colour were to be present it would have got in the way and dominated what one can appreciate from viewing the B&W. Somehow these B&W images result in a more endurable experience, for me. Well done, they are excellent images.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thanks a lot Sean ! I too feel the B&W suits the subject matter better. I’ll try to process a few in colour but have little hope.

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