Archives for Phoenix Photography Spots category

Daisy May
Daisy May
Desert Botanical Garden – Phoenix, AZ
March 2015
f/9.0 – 1/60 sec – ISO 100 – Focal Length 300 mm

I have to add the Tempe Town Lake area (the bridges, beach, Tempe Center for the Arts and parks) as one of my top photography spots in the Phoenix area.  There is so much in such a small area to photograph.  There is architecture in the Hayden Ferry buildings and the Tempe Center for the Arts, incredible night time photography opportunities with the lighting on the buildings and Mill Avenue Bridges, and many great daytime photo worthy subjects as well.  Plus, if you are a portrait photography there are a lot of great settings to photography your subjects.  So all around, Tempe Town Lake is at the top of my great places to photograph in Phoenix.

The photographs in this collection are of the Mill Avenue Bridges taken at sunset and twilight.  Bring a tripod and the North shore of the lake is the best vantage point.

Twilight photography of the Mill Avenue Bridges in Tempe, AZ

f/5.6 – 1/8 sec – ISO 100 – Focal Length 28 mm

Photo of Mill Avenue Bridge with Hayden Ferry in the Background at twilight

f/5.6 – 0.4 sec – ISO 100 – Focal Length 90 mm

Detail photograph of the Mill Ave. Bridge in Tempe, AZ

f/5.6 – 0.3 sec – ISO 100 – Focal Length 28 mm

Sunset photography of the Mill Avenue Bridge in Tempe

f/13 – 1/80 sec – ISO 100 – Focal Length 105 mm

It has been a while, but this is another post in my series featuring the libraries in Phoenix, AZ.  So far I have featured the Burton Barr Central Library, the Cesar Chavez Library in Laveen, the Palo Verde Library in Maryvale, the Scottsdale Civic Center Library and the Arabian Library in Scottsdale.

This post features the Desert Broom Library in far north Phoenix, almost to Cave Creek.  Like the Arabian Library in Scottsdale the Desert Broom was designed by architect richärd + bauer architecture, llc.  The library sits on a desert site with track homes and strip malls encroaching.  But its materials of oxidized steel, glass and stone along with the design allow it to remain distinct and part of the Arizona desert.  Architectural photograph of the Desert Broom Library in Phoenix

Architectural photo of the Desert Broom Library branch in Phoenix, AZ

Photograph of the Desert Broom Library at night

Architectural image of the Desert Broom Library at twilight

Photograph of the Desert Broom Library in Phoenix

Photography of the Desert Broom Library in Phoenix, AZ

Arizona Falls is one spot in Phoenix I keep coming back to for photography.  It is such a simple and often over looked dot on the Phoenix map for photography yet it has so much to offer a photographer.  The falls are a spot in the Phoenix canal system where the elevation changes, hence a waterfall.  But SRP, one of the electric power companies in Phoenix, has turned this otherwise mundane spot into a work of public art.  And it generates electricity.  So why go back and photograph the same thing over and over again?  Because it is never the same place twice.  Arizona Falls has two elements that make this structure constantly changing; light and water.  The flow of water is different throughout the year just as the light changes with the seasons and the time of day.  So you will always get something new even if you return again and again as I have.

Photograph of Arizona Falls at sunset in Phoenix

f/5.0 – 0.8 sec – ISO 320 – Focal Length 50 mm

Photogrpah of Arizona falls in Phoenix lit up at night

f/4.5 – 2.5 sec – ISO 200 – Focal Length 28 mm

It has been a while since I listed out some of my favorite Phoenix photography spots.  In fact, the last 10 Top Phoenix Area Photo Spots was over 2 years ago.  So it is time for some updating.  But since the 10 locations I listed the first time around still stand as great spots in the Phoenix area to photograph this list is more of an expansion of, rather than a replacement of, the original.  As with the last list these are in no particular order, they are not the top 10 photography locations, they are 10 of the top locations.  Subtle but important distinction.

Architecutral photograph of the hayden Ferry building on Tempe Town Lake1) Tempe Town Lake – This location encompasses a lot of area and could probably be broken up into ten distinct spots on its own.  But the Tempe Town Lake area as a whole has a lot to offer photographers.  Check out the bridges, there are three of them; the Mill Ave. car and pedestrian bridge, the rail road bridge and the light rail bridge (which is awesome for night photography and catching the motion of the trains passing over). From the north shore you can get some great architectural shots of the Hayden Ferry buildings on the south side of  the lake.  Then maybe stroll around the Tempe Beach Park and get shots of the boats on the lake, people enjoying the park, or the lake itself.

2) Mill Ave. – When you finish up photographing Tempe Town Lake head over to Mill Avenue.  This is the downtown and historic heart of Tempe.  The avenue is lined with historic buildings and buildings made to look historic.  It is also a gathering place for students from nearby Arizona State University (a photography spot on the original list) so you can get some good people shots if so inclined.  There are also some great hidden gems on Mill to capture (or hidden in plain site and just over looked by most). Pay attention to the signs, architectural details and the crowds.

3) Gilbert Riparian Preserve – The preserve is better photographed very early if you are looking for wildlife photography or in the evening for some great sunset photography.  The wetlands of the Riparian Preserve attract a wide variety of birds.  Although I am no avian expert and bird photography is not my area of expertise it is fun to get out there and stalk the birds with your camera.  I have gotten some pretty good shots and it can be very peaceful in the early morning hours with just you, the birds and a dozen or so other photographers and birders.

4) Phoenix Zoo – If after the Riparian Preserve you are on an animal kick the Phoenix Zoo is perfect.  The zoo is perfect for practicing your animal photography before heading out on your next African safari.  Bring a telephoto lens, a tripod and patience.  The animals aren’t always right up close and personal so the telephoto will let you get up close without getting up close.  A tripod will give you flexibility to and stability that can be helpful in zoo photography.  And patience is always good with kids and animals.  They are not going to pose for you so you have to be on their terms and wait for the perfect shot.  But the Phoenix Zoo is big and has a great variety or animals to shoot photograph.

Photo of Grand Avenue in Phoenix, AZ5) Grand Ave – In the not too distant past not too many people would have sent you down to Grand Ave to photography or for anything else for that matter.  But it is coming around and there is a lot to see with your camera.  You are probably safer to avoid it after dark.  But a daylight stroll from the Grand Ave starting point at 7th Ave. and Van Buren (Grand diagonally crosses the city so that is a three street intersection) to 15th Ave and Roosevelt will present some great photo ops if you keep your eyes out.  These are not postcard shoots for the tourists, but an urban photography buff should be happy.  If you want to explore Grand Ave a bit more hop in the car and drive Northwest.  There are some great old signs, including Mel’s Diner, railroad cars and general urban grit.

6) Encanto Park – Encanto is in the center of the city and includes a small amusement park on an island in the park’s lake.  The lake, the amusement park, a golf course and several buildings from Phoenix’s past all present ample photograph opportunities.  You can also venture out into the historic neighborhoods that surround the park.  They can range from stately homes on grass and tree lined streets to ones that have seen better days and have fallen on hard times.  But the whole area has a lot to offer and you are sure to find something to capture with your camera.

Photo of downtown Chandler, AZ7) Downtown Chandler – The downtown area of Chandler in the East Valley doesn’t cover much ground.  But in this small, historic area you can find quite a bit to photograph.  The San Marcos hotel is great for some architectural photography

8) Downtown Gilbert – Downtown Gilbert is no more than a few square blocks.  But there is a lot to see and photograph in those blocks.  The overall look and feel of the downtown area is of a small town Main St.  Many of the buildings date back to the turn-of-the-century (the last one, not the 21st).  Pay particular attention to Liberty Market (great place to grab a bite to eat while you are out photographing) – both the building and their neon sign, Joe’s Real BBQ – again a great building and neon, and the Gilbert Water Tower.  Then stroll down a few side streets for a few hidden photo ops.

9) Chinese Cultural Center – The Chinese Cultural Center is tacked on to a shopping center with a Chinese theme.  But there is a great Oriental garden with temple-like structures, koi ponds, and plenty of Chinese statuary.  I found this a great place to photography textures and patterns and see how the light plays with some of the intricacies of the structures.  You can get the broad shot of a “temple” but getting down to the details here makes for some great images.

Photo of Paolo Soleri's Cosanti in Paradise Valley, AZ10) Cosanti – I am partial to architecture and this small studio where the Soleri Bells are made has become a favorite photography spot of mine.  Located in a suburban neighborhood (that sprung up around it) the architecture of Cosanti is nothing like its neighbors.  It is very organic and free flowing and appears to have grown over time.  The structures make for some interesting shots.  But then there are the bells.  The Soleri ceramic and bronze bells are very well known and great for some up close detailed shots.

Bonus! Japanese Friendship Garden – This is a very peaceful and tranquil Phoenix photography spot right in the heart of the city.  The garden is an authentic 3 1/2 acre Japanese garden with streams, paths, a tea house, bonsai, and lush vegetation.   It is located on 3rd Ave in central Phoenix right near the Deck Park and is open October through May (you don’t want to be strolling and shooting in July anyway).


The Arabian Library is actually in Scottsdale, Arizona.  But that is close enough that we can still call this a great Phoenix photography spot.  This spot falls into the architectural photography category for obvious reasons, but its desert setting offers vegetation and wildlife if architectural photography is not your thing or you want to mix your nature and architecture.  Designed by richärd+bauer architects the Arabian Library is one of 5 libraries in the City of Scottsdale.  The building was designed to meet LEED Gold standards and its rusted steel walls anchor it to the desert site on which it sits.

Architectural photography of the Arabian Library in Scootsdale, AZ

Architectural detail photgraph of the Scottsdale Arabian Library


Photography of the Arabian Library in Scottsdale

Photo of the entrance to the Arabian Library in Scottsdale

Architectural detail photograph of the Arabian Library in Scottsdale

Photography of an architectural detail at the Scottsdale Arabian Library

Architectural photography at the Arabian Library in Scottsdale



Photo of Grand Ave. in Phoenix

The Lodge
f/9.0 – 1/125 sec – ISO 200 – Focal Length 35 mm

Photo of Arizona Falls in PhoenixIf I had to limit my Phoenix photography spots to just a handful Arizona Falls would, without a doubt, be on the list.  Located in Phoenix off Indian School Road and 56th St., the falls are a hydroelectric plant that double as a public space and work of art.  From a  photography standpoint there are an abundance of image opportunities.

Arizona Falls is one of the things that make photography exciting, thrilling and fascinating to me.  Yes, those are a lot of adjectives, but this is a place that reinforces my passion for photography.  I have been there to photograph more times than I remember.  And still, it is a different place every time I go.

It is a solid concrete and steel structure.  Yet it is fluid, literally and figuratively.  The water that flows through the falls creates an ever changing scene.  The light, both natural and artificial, brings out highlights and shadows that transform the structure at various times of day and night.  On top of that, I personally view it differently every time I go.  I bring a new perspective and a new eye each time.  That turns  every photo trip to Arizona Falls into a unique experience.  That is what photography is all about to me.  Seeing the ordinary, something you have seen a million times before, in a new light through the lens of the camera.  And more than just seeing it, capturing your vision with the camera to share with the world.

Photo of waterfall at Arizona Falls

f/1.7 – 1/50 sec – ISO 400 – Focal Length 50 mm

Photo of the sunset at Arizona Falls

f/2.5 -1/80 sec – ISO 400 – Focal Length 50 mm

Photo of Arizona Falls in Phoenix

f/1.7 – 1/10 sec – ISO 400 – Focal Length 50 mm

Photo of Arizona Falls in Phoenix

f/1.7 – 1/10 sec – ISO 400 – Focal Length 50 mm

Photo of Arizona Falls in Phoenix

f/5.6 – 1/6 sec – ISO 400 Focal Length 70 mm

My photography tends to go in one of two directions, urban/architecture or nature/landscape.  As a result most of the Phoenix photography spots I write about fall into one of those two categories or a blend of the two.  One spot that I have written about and photographed often in the nature category is the Gilbert Riparian Preserve.  Always on the look out for new places to photograph in Phoenix and the Valley, I happened upon a similar spot not too far from the Preserve.

The Chandler Veteran’s Oasis Park is located in the Southeast valley at Lindsey Road and Chandler Heights Road.  The concept of the park is very similar to that of the Gilbert Riparian Preserve.  They both serve first and foremost as water management facilities but they have also been designed to serve double duty as urban parks and environmental education centers.

Photo of Chandler Verteran's Oasis Park

Chandler Veteran’s Oasis Park
f/25 1/200 sec – ISO 200 – Focal Length 40 mm

The Chandler Veteran’s Oasis Park has a main lake fed by a water fall similar to the one you will find in Gilbert.  The lake is part of the Valley’s urban fishing program and you can usually find anglers trying their luck to pull the next big one out.  A traditional park surrounds the lake with ramadas, picnic tables and a playground.  But for the photographer, it is the trails that branch off from the main lake that are the true gem.  The 4 1/2 miles of trails lead off to several catch basins that serve as habitat to many of the same wildlife you will find at the Gilbert preserve.  Although keep in mind, for wildlife photography, especially birds that may be migratory, you will have better luck at some times of year over others.  June, when I first visited the park, is probably not the best to photograph the birds as many have already returned north.  But until fall rolls around again and I can get a better idea of how many wildlife photo ops there are, there are still a variety of birds as well as other desert wildlife for photographing.

Photo of Chandler Verteran's Oasis Park and San Tan Mountain

Chandler Verteran’s Oasis Park
San Tan Mountains in the backgorund
f/11 – 1/80 sec – ISO 200 – Focal Length 100 mm

The Civic Center Library in Scottsdale was designed by Bennie Gonzales.  Although not generally well know, Gonzales’ other work in the Phoenix area include the Heard Museum in central Phoenix.

Photo of the Scottsdale Civic Center Library

f/11.0 – 1/100 sec – ISO 100 – Focal Length 28 mm

Photo of the Scottsdale Civic Center Library

f/11 – 1/60 sec – ISO 100 – Focal Length 28 mm

Photo of the Scottsdale Civic Center Library

f/11.0 – 1/100 sec – ISO 100 – Focal Length 50 mm

Photo of the Scottsdale Civic Center Library

f/2.8 – 1/4 sec – ISO 100 – Focal Length 28 mm