Ron Scott Pictures the Desert Then and Now

By Marilyn Noble

Ron Scott exploring ancient ruins.

Ron Scott exploring ancient ruins.

Ron Scott, the people’s choice award winner in our spring photo contest, used to race through life. He finished forty marathons, including the Pikes Peak run twice; ran ten fifty-mile races; and even did the Leadville 100, a brutal hundred mile run at elevations around ten thousand feet and higher. But then a worn out knee caused him to slow down and begin hiking. And that’s when he discovered the joy of photography.

Scott came to the desert from Southern California on an ASU wrestling scholarship. After graduation he stayed to teach in the Mesa School District where, over a thirty year career, he taught elementary and middle school physical education, fourth grade, and kindergarten. When he retired, he began spending time on the trails in Usery Mountain Regional Park in Mesa. “I fell in love with it,” he says, and soon became a park volunteer. He was especially taken with the cactus and expansive landscapes and decided he wanted to start taking pictures.

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His first camera was a Sony Cybershot, a 7MP point and shoot, which was good for taking flower photos. But then he left it on the bed of his truck, and it fell out, which, he says, was a blessing because he it allowed him to move up to a DSLR. His brother-in-law encouraged him toward Nikon, so he invested in a D-90. He was happy with it. “You can’t go wrong with Nikon or Canon,” he says. But then, in another tragic twist of fate, he dropped it on the floor. He replaced it with a D-7000, a 16MP rig that gives him great flexibility whether he’s shooting long distances or up close. Scott also owns a professional grade printer that creates images in sizes up to nine-by-thirteen inches, but he stresses he’s not a professional. “I’m not a pro,” he says. “Being professional would be too much like work, and I’m retired. I do this purely for my own enjoyment and that of my friends.”

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Full moon over Pass Mountain

That’s not to say he doesn’t share his work. Scott has won three Photo of the Day contests on capturemyarizona.com, and the Maricopa County Parks department chose his photo of a full moon over Pass Mountain in Usery Park for the art on their annual parks pass. He also entered dozens of his photographs in the Rio Nuevo contest, and won two of the weekly prizes. “It’s kind of fun to throw it out there,” he says with a laugh.

Petroglyph on Black Top Mesa, Superstition Wilderness

Petroglyph on Black Top Mesa, Superstition Wilderness

Scott gravitates toward wildlife and landscapes, but recently, he’s discovered a new love. He’s been hiking the back country with Brennan Basler, known around Usery Park as Ranger B. They’ve been visiting and documenting many of the lesser known ruins in the county park system and in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness in Central Arizona. “It makes the hiking more interesting because people don’t know the ruins are there,” he says. Some of them in the park system are just a few yards from the maintained trails, but they remain camouflaged by the desert landscape. And because they’re rarely visited by modern humans, the ruins and their contents remain intact.

Scott says they’ve seen seven-hundred-year-old corn cobs and other detritus in the ruins, and the handprints of the builders remain frozen in the mud plaster on the walls. The ruins in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness, because of their relative inaccessibility, are especially well-preserved remnants of the Salado civilization, and Scott wants them to remain that way. While he takes photographs, he doesn’t share the locations.Scott.5

In addition to hiking, Scott rides his bicycle and has started running a little, just because he misses it so much. But it’s the photography that brings so much pleasure to those fortunate enough to view his work. We’re looking forward to plenty more of Ron Scott’s views of the desert world around him, both modern fauna, flora, and landscapes, and ancient architecture.

Ron Scott Peoples Choice

The People’s Choice Award Winner

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