Readers’ Photo Contest

May 23, 2019
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 9th Annual PHOENIX magazine

Readers’ Photo Contest

Seasonal Arizona

We sometimes joke that Arizona has but two seasons: Hot and Not Hot.
It’s funny but hardly true, especially the deeper one plunges into the Arizona high country, with its aspen groves, alpine peaks and verdant chaparral. In our latest showcase of reader-provided photographic majesty, we asked you to capture Arizona in her most dramatic postures of seasonal variety. And you delivered.

By Sabine Galvis, Ethan Millman & Irene Franco Rubio

The following 10 images were selected by PHOENIX editors, and the winner was determined by an online vote.

David Robinson
“Snow on Weavers Needle”

David Robinson, a professional guitarist and photographer, wielded his Sony a7R II camera in late February 2019 to capture “the greatest snowstorm I have seen here since my arrival in 1981.” Hiking in the Superstition Wilderness east of Phoenix, the Scottsdale resident glimpsed the “rare treat” of a classic wintertime image rarely seen in the Valley – a snowcapped mountain range, punctuated by Weavers Needle, a 1,000-foot column of volcanic rock that juts out of the wilderness like a white wizard’s hat.

Elias Castillo
“Chocolate Falls”

On an April afternoon last year, Phoenix barber and hobby photographer Elias Castillo drove his 9- and 6-year-old  children north to Grand Falls east of Flagstaff, telling them the muddy snow runoff was chocolate milk. Taken with his DJI Spark Drone, the photo gives a bird’s-eye view of the classic spring image. “People are so mesmerized [by the sight] of water in the desert,” Castillo says. “Bright orange, red rock and blue skies. It’s so different, and that’s what Arizona is to me.”

Stephen Goldstein
“The Tree”

Northern Arizona University student Stephen Goldstein was poking around Coconino County last November with his Mamiya 7II 6×7 film camera, looking to “document the lonely and desolate landscapes of winter in Northern Arizona,” he says. During the first major snowfall of the season, the freelance photographer stepped off the side of a road in the town of Parks and bundled his camera inside his jacket. While bracing against wind and snow, he captured this stark, Bergmanesque image of a lonely conifer – one of 15 he shot that day. Find his work at

Justin Weih
“Arizona Sunset”

Moving to Arizona from Taiwan 32 years ago, Justin Weih embarked on a long career as a Honeywell engineer and recently took up wilderness hiking after retiring from the company. Hiking to the summit of Usery Mountain Regional Park near Mesa last March, Weih found himself “lost in awe and wonder at the beauty of the blooming wildflowers at sunset.” He captured the image with a Samsung Galaxy S5, preserving the Valley’s most precious and fleeting season – spring – in a riot of floral color and rosy-fingered sunlight.


Bobby Garcia
“Sunrise and Power Lines”

A semiprofessional photographer who works in workforce analysis at Grubhub, Tempe resident Bobby Garcia snapped this eerie silhouette on a summer morning near Tempe Town Lake. Working with a Sony Alpha A65, Garcia waited for the sun to rise, using the industrial clutter to punctuate the smoldering warmth of desert morning. “I really love showing Arizona’s natural beauty,” Garcia says. “I was drawn to re-creating that feeling that I got when I looked at that picture. I wanted that feeling of what it’s like to live in the desert, and you can feel that warmth.”

Archie Tucker
“Train in Williams”

A snowbound train track isn’t the first image one may conjure of the Grand Canyon State, but Tucker’s shot of a locomotive near Williams in winter is classically Arizona nonetheless. Tucker, a curator for art galleries at Phoenix’s Herberger Theater Center, captured the stunning scene with a Sony A7 Mirrorless full-frame camera during a Grand Canyon Railway event over Presidents Day weekend this past February. “My wife, Connie, and I arrived early to select a spot to make the best image,” says Tucker, a Litchfield Park resident. “We started to worry around 11:45 a.m., but after another 10 minutes or so we heard the train whistle, and everything fell into place.”

Mike Raimondo
“Winding Through Fall”

While enjoying a hike with his wife on the West Fork Trail of Oak Creek Canyon last October, Phoenix IT manager Mike Raimondo was reminded of the crisp fall days of his native Chicago, and was surprised to find the same explosion of autumnal color in Arizona. Instinctively, he snapped the impasto of fallen leaves with his iPhone 8. “I called it ‘Winding Through Fall’ because we love seeing the gold and crimson leaves of fall, and this hike definitely met our expectations,” Raimondo says.

Jeff Luth
“radio Moon”

Executive recruiter and semiprofessional photographer Jeff Luth used a Canon 7D to snap this crisp, wintertime image of a full moon hanging above the Thompson Peak towers in December 2018. To get the image, Luth trekked to a residential street in the middle of McDowell Mountain Ranch, the range nearest his home in North Scottsdale. The image involved a deep-focus lens and extensive planning, including “a tool called The Photographer’s Ephemeris to coordinate when the moon would rise behind the towers and where I could capture that image,” Luth says. Find more of his work at

Barry Wolf
“Four Peaks Snow”

Like every other Valley resident, retired television producer Barry Wolf was astounded by the Valley’s late-winter snowfall in February. He says there’s “nothing normal” about snow and cacti coexisting in the same environment. “I was amazed and just had to capture the moment for others to see. It was all quite inspiring.” Training his Canon 5Ds and 70mm lens on the Valley’s eastern skyline, Wolf captured this lovely visual paradox in all its deep-focus glory.

Paige Harvey
“Asu Stadium at Sunset”

Nothing says winter in the Valley quite like a cloudless, 70-degree day capped by a beautiful sunset. Scottsdale resident Paige Harvey captures it all in this meditative image shot, ironically, with a years-old iPhone. “Obviously there’s the sunset, the changing scenery in Tempe Town Lake, and I loved the kayakers in it,” the Intel operations manager says of the photo. “The sunset was very colorful, and if you live in Arizona, everyone says the sunsets are the best in terms of the colors you see.”

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