[/caption] While the weather was rather cold and wet in the Willamette Valley and snowy in the Cascades during the Christmas holiday, I found myself back in Arizona enjoying a rather warm Christmas. The high on Christmas was 78 degrees so I started wondering why I ever moved away from Arizona. Oh, yea! The summer’s last 6 months and there isn’t any water, ocean or much vegetation around the Phoenix metro area. However, it was nice to spend a week in the sun. I found time to hike in the Lost Dutchman State Park as well as in the San Tan mountain preserve. However, the best part was spending two separate days 4 Wheeling in the Sonoran Dessert. I was surprised that I took most of my best photos on these trips. We spotted dozens of old mines and old mine shafts on these remote trails. We also came across several old mining cabins and wagon stops. The best part was visiting what looked like an old Silver mining operation that was amazingly in very good condition. Since we followed several different creek beds, there were a lot of trees and different types of vegetation that you normally won’t find in the desert. The weather was about 70 degrees but I could just imagine how hot it gets near these dry creek beds. The temperatures could easily top 120 degrees due to the heating of the rocks in all directions. I could just imagine that it would be like standing in a convection oven. Since it was almost impossible to take any good photos while I was being bounced around in the jeep, I found that I was able to take several good shots whenever we stopped long enough for me to point my camera and start shooting. We did stop several times whenever we came to a point of interest so this gave me enough time to get some really great photos of some areas that probably don’t get many photographers. I took this shot while standing inside a small cave that was carved out by the creek. The sun was just above the top of the cave so I moved far enough back that I could bring out the blueness of the sky and the reds in the rocks without getting any glare. I was using my Canon T1i Rebel along with my Canon 18-55mm lens. I attached my UV, warming and CIR-PL filter to help enhance the sky and rocks. Since the glare was pretty intense, I made sure that I had my lens hood attached. The desert is a perfect example of why you should always use a CIR-PL as well as a warming filter whenever needed. The warming filter enhances the redness of the rocks and the PL brings out the blueness of the sky, without creating any glare from the sun. I had the camera in Program mode so the F stop was at F-6.3 and the shutter was at 1/100 second. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.3. I never had a chance to use my tripod since we were always on the go. However, I would have used it several times if I would have had the time. I can only imagine how colorful the Tortilla mountains are during spring. I could see all of the desert plants that bloom during the springtime and I hope to be back this spring.