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Creatures of the Sonoran Desert

Photographs by Rhonda Spencer of Tucson, Arizona.

Ferruginous hawk Katydid White lined sphinx Roadrunner

Saguaro flower and honeybee Ring-necked duck Ants Costa's hummingbird

Sidewinder Harris hawk Gulf fritillary Giant desert hairy scorpion


Click on a thumbnail image above to enlarge it.

Born in Oceanside, California, Rhonda Spencer is a self taught artist and photographer now resident in Tucson, southern Arizona. She began painting in her teens, and was drawn to photography as a means of capturing pictures that she could use as reference material from which to paint. Her first camera was a simple 35mm film model. She upgraded to a Sony Mavica MVC-FD71 digital camera, which stored images on floppy discs. She progressed through a Fuji Finepix S7000, a Canon Rebel and a digital Nikon to the two cameras she now uses and loves - a Canon EOS 5D and a Canon EOS 40D dSLR.

Asked about the lenses she likes to use, she says, "All my lenses are made by Canon. My favorite for landscapes is my 14/70mm zoom. For wildlife, I attach a 300mm prime lens, occasionally with a 1.4 tele-extender attached. I also sometimes use my 100/400mm zoom. My macro lens is a 100mm."

Rhonda's photography demonstrates great determination to get just the right shot. She says, "You have to learn patience, whether it's waiting for the right light or watching for an animal to change position." Rhonda will carefully stalk birds, inching slowly towards them and halting if the bird appears to take the smallest notice of her. She has trained herself to remain stock still for a long time so as not to alarm an animal she is approaching or encircling. "With cameras, you tend to lose your sense of time," she says. "Suddenly you wonder where it has gone."

She has an amazing ability to capture her subjects in just the right light. Asked how she does it, Rhonda says, "Luck and instinct, I'd say, developed from lots of trial and error over the years. I used to experiment with what I thought was right, check the results and do it over again to improve it. Now, I can look at a scene and think 'This is too bright or it needs more light, and automatically make the correct adjustment'." Although she uses fill flash every now and then when it seems appropriate, she prefers the natural light at dawn, when many animals are still out and about.

She says that people often seem drawn to her when she is taking pictures, and will frequently "pick her brain". She enjoys helping others to improve their photography, and is happy to explain her techniques to anyone who asks. "There should be no secrets in photography," she says. "Too many photographers are secretive about what they do to get nice pictures. They should realize their pictures will still be unique even if others follow their best advice. Everyone has their own eye."

Rhonda is happily married to hubby, Larry. They have three sons and eight grandchildren. Her images regularly appear in the publications of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Check out some of her fine photography there at Desert Digital Library. She has been invited to create an exhibit of her photography in the museum's prestigious Ironwood Gallery to appear next year in June, July and August.

Rhonda's images are available for sale at Westward Look Resort gift shop, in gift cards and as enlargements.

Email

Rhonda welcomes your comments about her photography, and can be reached at rdavs@msn.com.

Website

Visit Rhonda Spencer's Photography, at http://www.rhondaspencer.com/ where you can browse among her many fine photographic examples of desert flora and fauna.

Rhonda Spencer in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert, with a macro lens on her Canon camera.
Rhonda Spencer in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert, with a macro lens on her Canon camera.