McDowell Mountain Sunrise

© Paul D.

McDowell Mountain Sunrise

Uploaded: March 09, 2011


This morning's sunrise, 4-shot HDR merge, then standard Curves/Levels/Sat/Sharpen, etc. No filters. The long sunrays are due to the narrow aperture and longer exposure time. I waited for months for the sun to rise at this spot, and when it did, I had about 20 seconds to fire off the four exposures... after that it was too high and too bright!

16-35mm @24mm, f/14, ISO 100.


Susan Weisensel March 09, 2011

Gorgeous sunrise Paul. #1359398

Nikki McDonald level-classic March 09, 2011

Stunning. I love the backlighting on the cactus and of course the sunrays. Excellent clarity, too. Beautiful image, Paul. #9282121

Liz blahh March 09, 2011

Beautifully captured! Love the Cholla when the sunlight hits it. #9282124

Carolyn M. Fletcher level-deluxe March 09, 2011

Outstanding! I love this! #9282218

Paul D. March 09, 2011

Thanks all, glad you like it. I was concerned that the sun was too near the center of the frame, but I couldn't pan any farther right because the terrain wasn't very pretty, too bare and rocky. So I just went for it as is. #9282294

Ruth Robbins level-classic March 09, 2011

Fabulous! #9282308

Paul D. March 09, 2011

Thanks Ruth, and thank you for urging me to post this shot. BTW, I took an iPhone shot of the setup while waiting for the sun to rise, which is did about 2 minutes later, lol! #9282351

Ruth Robbins level-classic March 09, 2011

Cool, you enter that if they have another photo of photographers category. #9282457

John E. Steinway March 09, 2011

Terrific image Paul. #9282462

Ruth Robbins level-classic March 10, 2011

EP!!! #9283965

Mike R. Howe March 10, 2011

Beautiful work,Paul...Well done!!! #9284551

Robert R. Goodman March 16, 2011

Hi Paul.Beautiful HDR of the McDowell.It been awhile since I've been out by the fort.Great capture indeed!!! #9293831

Ken Smith level-classic March 16, 2011

Hey Paul, you've got some great shots in your gallery...and I love the star photos. I would have tried in AZ, but it was a full moon...and yes, I enjoyed the view. Headed to Sedona tomorrow AM with my wife, bed and breakfast. Never been there but heard it's nice! #9294987

Paul D. March 16, 2011

MY gallery has great shots? Are you kidding me ken? I just went through all 13 pages, the images you have on there are unreal, your gallery could be an entire photo course, lol! I was amazed how many images were familiar to me, and then I realized how many were POTDs... I think I lost count somewhere around 15. Man, you never stop shooting, THAT'S an inspiration right there. My camera spends way too much time in the case, need to fix that.

Enjoy Sedona! Sun rises about 6:45am, be ready! ;-) #9295144

Wendy Stevenson April 11, 2011

Gorgeous! Love the rim lighting and shapes of those cacti! Beautiful capture! #9344878

Katarina Mansson April 11, 2011

Stunning capture - congratulations on your POTD! #9344894

Bill Houghton April 11, 2011

Paul, this is an outstanding shot. Congratulations. #9344927

Chris Budny level-deluxe April 11, 2011

What a beautiful sunrise capture, Paul! The backlighting on the nearest cactus is terrific. And the starburst effect on the sun is spectacular; I don't think I've ever been able to produce such long streaks from high-aperture. (I figured you had a starburst filter on.) Your patience for just the right time has paid off; congratulations on your POTD! #9344929

Shawn Jennings April 11, 2011

Fantastic work, Paul! Congratulations on your POTD! #9344954

Nikki McDonald level-classic April 11, 2011

Delighted to see the POTD badge on this beautiful image, Paul. Congratulations. #9344979

Graeme yew Chow April 11, 2011

What a shot ? and truly deserved to get the POTD and the winner next time. Congrats! #9344990

Sue L. Cullumber April 11, 2011

Hi Paul - beautiful. Congrats on you POTD! I'm really familiar with this area, as I hike there all the time - nice capture. #9344997

Debra Booth April 11, 2011

Gorgeous! Congrats on your POTD! #9345028

Bunny Snow April 11, 2011

The whole image is amazing, but the lighting and backlighting cinches the deal.

If this were after sunrise, the impact would be disappointing. And, if it were later in the day, it would be nothing to write home about. But, you captured it at the perfect time, using all the skills you've mastered both prior to snapping the shutter and again in DD. Thanks for the reminder of when this was captured and to use the closed down aperture for the rays of light.

Both your work and skills shine here, Paul. Beautifully captured and processed. This is so well done!!! Congratulations on your POTD!!!!

Symona R. Wood April 11, 2011

WOw!!! Congrats!! I'd love to have this on my wall!!!! #9345039

Carolyn M. DAlessandro April 11, 2011

Good morning Paul!
Congratulations on this awesome image. They speak of the best light and clearly you got it here. It is a WOW image...Bravo Paul, well done!!! #9345041

Gary Sagnor April 11, 2011

Wonderful capture Paul! It was nice to look at this morning on BP's POTD! Caught at the perfect time of day...I love how you planned this and put some thought into it, love the sunburst too!

Linda L. Ruiz level-classic April 11, 2011

CONGRATS ON YOU POTD! It was so worth the planning and wait. fantastic #9345060

Karen Celella level-deluxe April 11, 2011

Congratulations on your exceptional POTD, Paul. You captured many aspects of the perfect light all in one shot. The wonderful f/22 star burst, gorgeous rim light and a beautiful landscape. This is a winner! #9345068

Eric Highfield level-deluxe April 11, 2011

A real winner Paul! Congrats, on your POTD! #9345074

Richard M. Waas level-addict April 11, 2011

A well deserved POTD!!! Congrats....... #9345136

Michael Kelly level-deluxe April 11, 2011

A real stunner. Congratulations! Well deserved. #9345143

Ruth Robbins level-classic April 11, 2011

Awesome!!! #9345151

Karen E. Baumann April 11, 2011

I concur with so many lessons to learn and to put to use. You were there because you knew you wanted to be and you were prepared and now you are reaping the rewards. This is a stunner!!!! Congratulations on your POTD Paul! #9345164

Susan Jane Allen level-classic April 11, 2011

Totally amazing! Lovely work! Just goes to show, the early bird gets awesome results! #9345175

Pamela Koch April 11, 2011

A beautiful sunrise photo. Congratulations on a well deserved POTD! #9345180

Kathleen K. Parker level-deluxe April 11, 2011

What a beautiful sunrise landscape! You sure were persistent!! Congratulations, Paul, on your POTD!
kk #9345198

nicole shockley April 11, 2011

Amazing... well worthe the wait. I hope you have this framed somewhere in your house. One of the best shots I have seen yet!!! #9345265

Anne McKinnell April 11, 2011

Gorgeous image Paul, congratulations on your stunning POTD! #9345289

Erica Murphy level-deluxe April 11, 2011

BEAUTIFUL POTD!! I love the backlighting on cactus, so cool. Congratulations!! #9345308

Phillip A. Flusche April 11, 2011

Outstanding capture. Congratulations. I love this one. #9345325

Janice M. Borodezt April 11, 2011


Absolutely gorgeous. You did good. #9345334

Stan Kwasniowski April 11, 2011

Paul, congratulations, both on your reward and your patience to get this image #9345342

Craig W. Myers level-addict April 11, 2011

Patience + Preparation = Great Reward Beautiful image. Congrats on the POTD. #9345357

Paul D. April 11, 2011

What an absolute surprise and blessing to wake up to! Thank you ALL, and while I can't reply individually (I can't type that fast, lol), I have read every comment and it is MUCH appreciated. Call me a nut, but I asked the Lord to show me His glory that morning and that scene appeared, it was humbling. And I'm thankful to report that I did NOT run across any rattlers walking to and from that location. ;-) #9345358

roxanne F. clabeaux-michalak April 11, 2011

This is absolutely gorgeous - just perfect. Congratulations on a well-deserved photo of the day! #9345389

Joy Rector April 11, 2011

congrats on the POTD #9345499

Maria Coulson April 11, 2011

Paul, this is beautiful! Congratulations. #9345559

Rona L. Schwarz April 11, 2011

WOW! This is a super spectacular image, Paul!! Everything about it is glorious - the lighting of course is unbelievable, particularly on the front cactus, the starburst of the sun's rays, the landscape colors and wonderful textures - I could go on and on. Now I must go visit your gallery. Congratulations on a truly wonderful POTD! A Winner for sure! #9345616

Richard D. Love April 11, 2011

Congratulations, Paul. Truly a beautiful HDR image. The wait was well worth it.

Rick #9345772

Daniella Puente April 11, 2011

This is a wonderful image! the light is perfect, congrats! #9345853

Cindy Bendush level-classic April 11, 2011

Gorgeous Paul! Congrats on getting this shot and congrats on your POTD! #9345910

Deborah C. Lewinson level-addict April 11, 2011

Congratulations on your POTD, Paul, for this stunning image!

Debby #9345915

Ken Smith level-classic April 11, 2011

Hey Paul...way to go!! Congrats on your POTD>..very well deserved! #9345985

Paul D. April 11, 2011

Roxanne Joy Maria Rona Richard Daniella Cindy Deborah, I really appreciaste your kind words, thanks!

Ken, how about that, you and I took shots in the same month, same state only about 90 minutes apart in distance and they become POTDs in the same week. How neat! I'm still amazed. #9346086

Paul D. April 11, 2011

Oh, and I should have also said same subject matter and same camera, lol! #9346088

Denny E. Barnes level-deluxe April 11, 2011

Perfect timing and exposure, Paul!! Such a beautiful and outstanding image well deserves the POTD!! Congratulations!! #9346138

Donna La Mattino Pagakis April 12, 2011

Beautiful scenery, glorious lighting and image. Congratulations on your POTD Paul!! #9346236

Gary Lange April 12, 2011

Terrific image, well timed and nice light! Great HDR work. #9346715

Jeff Robinson level-deluxe April 12, 2011

Outstanding work Paul - Congrats on your Well Deserved POTD!! #9347533

Paul D. April 12, 2011

D, D, G & J: Thanks!! #9347584

Paul D. April 18, 2011

BTW, I doubt they'll see this comment, but I want to thank the BP staff for picking this one for a POTD, it's VERY much appreciated. #9357843

Ken Smith level-classic April 26, 2011

You da man! Congrats Paul!! #9371079

Ruth Robbins level-classic April 26, 2011

Congratulations Paulie, you deserve Gold for this. #9371281

Paul D. April 26, 2011

LOL! Ruth & Ken, my two cheerleaders... You saw this before I did! ;-) #9371382

Rona L. Schwarz April 26, 2011

On to Gold, Paul! Super Congrats on this marvelous capture and good luck in the next round! #9371528

Paul D. April 26, 2011

Thanks Rona! We'll see about the gold, there are a bunch of great images this month in the Nature & Landscape category... but I appreciate your comments! #9371909

Renee Doyle April 27, 2011

I'm thinking Gold for sure!! Congratulations Paul! #9371937

Karen Celella level-deluxe April 27, 2011

Congratulations on your wonderful finalist, Paul! #9373003

Shawn Jennings April 27, 2011

Congratulations on this fantastic finalist, Paul! #9373461

Susan Weisensel April 27, 2011

Congrats Paul. #9373466

Paul D. April 27, 2011

Thank you all! The response is overwhelming, I don't know what to say... funny, I had asked a friend (Ruth, her comments above) if I should post this image. I'm glad she said yes! Thanks again. #9373659

Diane E. Deming level-classic April 27, 2011

WOW! What can I say, but just an exceptional photo. Your patience paid off with a spectacular image! #9374889

Bojan Bencic level-classic April 27, 2011

Fantastic light and tone, Paul. Congratulations on your win! #9375553

Katarina Mansson April 27, 2011

Congratulations on your outstanding winner Paul! The light and POV are exceptional, tones and comp excellent - all beautiful. #9375630

Mary K. Robison April 27, 2011

All your patience paid off, Paul ~
CONGRATULATIONS on your well earned First Place Winner! #9375652

Graeme yew Chow April 28, 2011

Hi Paul. I really like your image and especially with the HDR , you did it incredibly. Congratulations and thanks for your wonderful comments.

Renee Doyle April 28, 2011

Knew it :-) Big congrats on this most deserving win Paul!! #9375825

Ellen Hodges April 28, 2011

Huge congrats on this stunning winner!! #9376003

Chris Budny level-deluxe April 28, 2011

Congratulations on your win now, too! This comes as no surprise for such a beauty! #9376040

Ken Smith level-classic April 28, 2011

The photo that keeps on giving...congrats on your well deserved win, Paul..and let's hope it scores well in the Outdoor Photography contest too! #9376487

nicole shockley April 28, 2011

Congrats on the WIN!! I knew it would go all the way, its to amazing not too! You give us all inspiration! :) #9376515

Linda D. Lester level-classic April 28, 2011

Just beautiful....Congratulations on your first place win. #9376527

Terry Cervi level-classic April 28, 2011

All your trouble sure paid off with this incredible photo, Paul!! Congrats on your stunning First Place win! #9376608

Ruth Robbins level-classic April 28, 2011

FIRST PLACE!! Awesome Paulie, Congratulations. You deserve it. #9376633

Usman M. Bajwa level-classic April 28, 2011

What a fabulous image, Paul. Double CONGRATZ on the POTD and your First Place GOLD, WTG!!

UB. #9376748

Nancyj E. Hovey level-classic April 28, 2011

on your POTD & FIRST PLACE WINNER!!!! 8o) #9376769

Debra R. Harder April 28, 2011

This is incredibly BEAUTIFUL, Paul! I saw this superb image in the Outdoor Photography magazine contest and I knew it would win something here. Huge congratulations on your OUTSTANDING FIRST PLACE WIN!! Deb #9376861

Bill Houghton April 28, 2011

Paul, congratulations on your beautiful win. Have a great day, Bill

If you have time, check out my website:
Bill Houghton Photography


Jeana Clark April 28, 2011

Congratulations Paul for this well deserved First Place Winner!!!!

~J~ #9377256

Irene Colling level-classic April 28, 2011

A stunning beauty Paul. Your skillfull capture of this backlit scene certainly deserves a gold award.

Congratulations Paul. #9377303

Paul D. April 28, 2011

Thank you EVERYONE. This is my first gold (and POTD) so I'm definitely not used to all the amazing responses, but again I do read every one and am very grateful! (to the BP Judges as well) #9377311

Paul D. April 28, 2011

Ruth, thank you for urging me to post this (I emailed her last month and asked if it was too boring before posting... her reply was "Paulie! Enter that!", lol)

Ken, thanks, although I still think your Monument Valley shot is more stunning! ;-) Funny thing about Outdoor Photographer, I had submitted it to their contest last month and then totally forgot about it. OP doesn't email you if you gain Finalist, I just happened to look last week and saw it, THEN remembered I even entered it! Honestly, I think my noggin truly is cement sometimes, lol. #9377341

Phyllis H. Burchett April 28, 2011

Congrats on this fantastic first place winner Paul! #9377422

Karen Celella level-deluxe April 28, 2011

Congratulations on your amazing first place winner, Paul! #9377488

Rodrigo Barsallo April 28, 2011

The waiting was very well rewarded. 20 seconds !!. Great, congratulations. #9377938

Merna L. Nobile April 28, 2011

Take photo, Sleep
Edit photo, Sleep
Received award, stop sleeping

Paul D. April 28, 2011

Thanks all! (Merna, you crack me up... lol!) #9378259

Rolando Rosito April 28, 2011

Very deserving winner Paul, congratulations!! #9378636

Rona L. Schwarz April 28, 2011

No surprise here at all, Paul - a most deserving First Place Winner, for sure! HUGE CONGRATULATIONS ON A SENSATIONAL, STUNNING IMAGE! #9378659

Joannie Bertucci level-classic April 28, 2011

Paul, your First Prize win is absolutely mind bending! Congratulations on this fabulous First Prize! #9378799

Lisa J. Boulden level-classic April 29, 2011

A stunning first place winner!
Well worth the wait and effort!
~♥~Lisa #9379538

Shawn Jennings April 29, 2011

Congratulations on your win, Paul! #9380467

Patti Coblentz April 29, 2011

Amazing light, tones, and dof, Paul...congratulations on all fronts...this is a spectacular image! WTG! #9380536

Paul D. April 29, 2011

Thank you, Rolando through Patricia, all of these comments mean a LOT, seriously. Planning for and going after this image was a neat project! I'm most thankful to our Creator, for He made the conditions just right that morning (and gives us all of our abilities)... my job was to just show up and capture it. #9380595

Emile Abbott level-deluxe April 30, 2011

Fantastic morning light capture an Congratulation on your first place winner Paul #9381430

Martha R. Mazon level-classic May 10, 2011

Amazing image, Paul!! The light on the cacti is incredible. I for one very much appreciate your months of planning and perfect execution in your moment of opportunity. :) Congratulations! #9397796

David M. Montero May 11, 2011

Terrific capture and lighting Paul. Congratulations on your first place selection. #9399955

Lori Carlson May 12, 2011

Congrats on all your recognition with this beauty, Paul!!
And thanks for sharing your experience~it's one of my favorite things about BP!!
Great work! Way to inspire! =) #9402063

Summer A. Kozisek May 16, 2011

Fantastic image Paul with wonderfully natural HDR work. Well worth the wait!!! Congrats on your recent POTD as well! #9407574

Val Feldman level-deluxe May 20, 2011

A BIG congrats also on the superb write-up in June's issue of "Popular Photography" of this beautiful capture being chosen as the winner of the Photo Challenge - Kudos, all around! :) #9416892

Paul D. May 20, 2011

Thank you everyone, the comments and been BEYOND kind! Val, congrats, you were the first one to notice PP, lol. I have to see if it's in the store yet! It's still hard to drink in the attention on this image, it is SO appreciated. #9417861

Paul D. May 23, 2011

I do have to clarify one thing: I was wrong in my description here and in the text I sent to Popular Photography: this was a SIX-shot HDR merge, not four like I stated here and eight like I stated in Pop Photo.

I seriously need more sleep, lol. #9424951

Paul R. Nelson level-classic June 27, 2011

Paul, I would like to join the others in congratulating you on the success you've had with this image and the well-deserved accolades; your vision, preparation and persistance paid off.

I would also like to applaud you in giving credit to God for this beautiful image of His Creation and to thank you for sharing your prayer request that morning. His answers can sometimes lead to unexpected Blessings. #9490920

Ann Varley level-classic September 14, 2011

It may be months after the fact, but allow me a moment to ring in my praise on this glorious image too!

I stumbled on your amazing collection of images when visiting your Snow Bird view tonight, my old winter stomping ground.

Amazing work ... congratulations! #9672031

Laura E. Swan level-classic January 25, 2012


There is a special touch of magic in this image. The viewer can feel it immediately. The light is inspiring and clean. The star-burst is perfect like God himself...and he lit up his desert creation just for you and allowed you to share it with the rest of us!

How lucky is anyone who has the chance to see this? I count myself in!

-Laura Swan

Paul D. May 02, 2016

Can't believe 5 years has passed since I took this, lol. #11469533

Paul R. Nelson level-classic May 02, 2016

And God is still Good! #11469562

Ruth Robbins level-classic May 02, 2016

Really cool to see this Paulie. I got one too. :) #11469569

Paul D. May 02, 2016

Paul Nelson, AMEN, you can say THAT again!

RUTH!! I know, I know, WAYYYYY too long since we yakked, so glad you popped on, I didn't even think about notification emails, lol. AWESOME on getting a pick, which photo was it?? DUH, I can go look... ;-) #11469657

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