Perfect light, reflective pools make mural shot glow

Goddess of Agave - mural by Cyfi Rock Martinez, c/o Tucson Arts Brigade

Goddess of Agave – mural by Cyfi Rock Martinez, c/o Tucson Arts Brigade

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The first time I saw CyFi Rock Martinez’ mural Godess of Agave at sunset I knew a very special time would come to photograph it.

Created on the west-facing giant fascade of the old Tucson warehouse and Storage building, this epic artwork absolutely glows in the “golden hour” light near sundown.

In summer it is particularly luminous.

Long before Rock started work on this giant canvas I noticed a wonderful feature of the parking lot just west of the building.

There are amorphous divets in the concrete that are beautiful in and of themselves.

concrete-puddle_DSC5089-sw-dbaI first photographed them about three years back, partly filled with rain water, when I parked there one afternoon to shoot stills of people preparing for Tucson’s All Souls Procession.

The minute I got out of the car i glanced down and had to stop to photograph them.

And though my back was killing me by the time I returned to my car – the spoils of a herniated disc – I felt obliged to shoot more of them in the dying light.

About a year back I returned after another monsoon rainstorm, and that night the sky lit up.

Sunset-reflection_DSC3294-sw-dbaI had gone primarily looking for a wide view of the sunset but discovered that the depressions made for beautiful irregular mirror surfaces, reflecting the colors of the setting sun.

In early June I found myself back in that parking lot again, this time with the mural finished and signed.

I’d already shot it fairly recently so I passed for that moment. But right then the idea of a post-monsoon portrait of the mural was hatched.

It took until the second of August for the ingredients to come together.

But early that evening, after repeated storms during the day, I thought it might be worth a trip back.

The clouds were still pretty thick when I first arrived. I wasn’t sure the warm glow I was looking for would happen. But the puddles were large and numerous.

I parked by the dirt on the south side of the lot and walked around, checking out the various reflection points before setting up the tripod and camera.

mural-front-water_DSC8835-sw-dbaI was so excited at what I was seeing that I skipped from puddle to puddle at first, not really focusing on the larger composition. I was just enthralled at the random revealing qualities of the puddles.

Suddenly the sunlight poked through below the clouds, flooding the mural with a golden glow.

I knew it wasn’t going to last long so I moved to a few different locations, making careful exposures and moving along quickly. At times the tripod wasn’t perfectly level. I was in a hurry. Too much so, in retrospect. Thankfully that could be fixed in post.

But near the end of the glowing moment I managed to get the composition pretty close to the way I’d envisioned it, with the eyes of the goddess in reflection, along with the tree immediately to the south of the mural. Lush and green from the recent rain, it made the perfect color complement to the predominantly orange colors of the mural.

Mural-front-ripple_DSC8816-sw-dbaAfter the glowing moment was over I continued shooting in various reflection points, sometimes tossing a pebble into the water to create ripples and distort the reflected image.

Eventually I turned my camera around and shot a few of the sunset and the passing train. But I was so excited that i left before the big red glow bloomed after sunset.

Oh well. I’d caught my quota of light for the day.

~ by Daniel Buckley on August 6, 2016.

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