SaddleBrooke Photo Club at Windy Point

Photographers’ Silhouettes by Eric Peffer

Barbara Wilder and Frank Earnest

Recently Frank Earnest, a member of the photo club, suggested that he would like to take a group on a field trip up the road to Mt. Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains to practice shooting panoramas. Windy Point is known for the scenic views before you get to the top of the mountain.

With much enthusiasm, we set a date to go. These are Frank’s instructions before setting out:

The goal of this SaddleBrooke Photography Club outing is to acquire a sunset/evening panorama of the city of Tucson from Windy Point up the Catalina Highway on Thursday, October 25.

Accomplishing a panorama will teach us how to:

1) Set up a tripod using a level indicator on the body and head that will permit the camera to swing on a level horizontal plane through the area of photographic interest.

2) Use manual exposure and focusing settings to set up the camera. We’ll use the exposure histogram and test exposures to set up the camera.

3) Use a camera delay or trigger to acquire successive images that overlap by about 30% over the area of interest.

4) Try several different compositions (more or less sky; landscape or portrait orientation of camera).

4) We will eventually get together at a club meeting to learn to use the Panorama feature in software (Lightroom or other) and stitch together the images we acquired into a panorama view of the city.

When I went up there to shoot some test panoramas, I used the PhotoPills app on my phone and determined that the sun will set over the Tucson Mountains to the right side of the image around 5:40 p.m. on October 25.


Bring along your camera, tripod, warm clothes (including gloves and hat with a wind strap), a head lamp or flash light and a picnic dinner with beverage of choice. We’ll leave SaddleBrooke about 3:00 p.m. for a 90-minute drive to Windy Point. We’ll have about 60 minutes to check out the geography, eat our sandwiches, get our camera gear all set up and take a few test exposures. Then we should have around 40-45 minutes to shoot our panoramas before the light is gone. We’ll need to use our flashlights or headlamps to get safely back from the cliff to the car for the ride home.

Here is a youtube video on acquiring a panorama.

Nine photographers took him up on this challenge and we got some great results. After a short hike to the rocky ledges, we found our spots to settle in to take our panoramas. The lighting was wonderful, with enough fluffy clouds to make the blue sky more interesting. People in the pictures added detail to the landscape shots.