Photo of Frank Lloyd Wright's Logo at Taliesin WestI recently took the Night Lights on the Desert tour at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West.  Taliesin West is the winter home to the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and is located in North Scottsdale, Arizona.  If you are familiar with Wright’s style you will immediately recognize the buildings of the school as his architecture.  Work began on the school in 1937 when that part of Scottsdale was just open desert.  Today the suburbs have encroached, but the school’s 300 acres of land keep a buffer between it and urban sprawl.

The Night Lights on the Desert tour is a great tour for anyone, but it gives the photographer the opportunity to see the architecture of Taliesin at the golden hour when the light is prime.  The only way to photograph the grounds and buildings are with a guided tour so your photography prospects may be a bit limited.  But with a little preparedness you should not be impeded too much.  Here are few things to keep in mind:

  1. Try to hang out at the back of the pack.   You do not want to stray from the group or fall too far behind, but being at the back will give you a chance to get some “tourist free” shots once the tour group has moved out of space.
  2. Fidgeting with lens changes while trying to pay attention to a tour guide and stay with the group can be a challenge.  Pick one good universal lens and stick with it.
  3. Try not to rely too much on flash photography.  You will have enough natural light for most of the tour (in the summer months in particular) to capture what you need with ISO, aperture and shutter speed adjustments.
  4. Some photographers have ruined it for the rest of us.  Until not too long ago, photography for personal use, was allowed most everywhere on the tour.  But when images of Wright designed furnishings and other artifacts began showing up for sale on the internet the Foundation stopped allowing photography in the interior spaces.  Make sure you abide by the restrictions so that they are not forced to eliminate photography altogether.
Photo of rock art (petroglyphs) at Taliesin WestTaliesin Petroglyphs
f/7.1 – 1/40 sec – ISO 100 – Focal Length 50 mm

This rock art was found in the McDowell Mountains on the Taliesin land back in the 1930’s and relocated to the site of the buildings by Wright.  The second image from the left on the bottom was incorporated by Wright into his logo design.

Photo of the Entry to Taliesin West

Entrance to Taliesin West
f/9.0 – 1/100 sec – ISO 100 – Focal Length 50 mm

Photo of the roof line at Taliesin West

Taliesin West Roof Lines
f/11 – 1/200 sec – ISO 100 – Focal Length 50 mm

The roof lines of the buildings at Taliesin West reflect the lines of the McDowell Mountains in the background while the stone used from the site reflect the color of the landscape.

Photo of the entry fountain at Taliesin West
Entrance Fountain at Taliesin West
f/11.0 – 1/30 sec 0 ISO 100 – Focal Length 50 mm

Photo of Frank Lloyd Wright's Office at Taliesin West

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Office
f/8.0 – 1/200 sec – ISO 100 – Focal Length 50 mm

Similar to the roof line image above, the slope of the roof of the building that served as Mr. Wright’s office follows the slope of the mountain behind it.  The colors of the rocks and concrete used in the walls further connect the building to the site.

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