Earlier this week, while camping in northern Arizona in the Coconino National Forest, I had the fortunate chance to witness the birth of an evening primrose flower as it slowly unfurled from its green bud at dusk. We watched a first bloom for almost 45 minutes; a second one nearby took less than 7 minutes to open. It was one of the most beautiful natural events I’ve ever seen.

If you’d like to see it too, check out the video I just posted of the second bloom at 2x real time speed (so it’s about 3 minutes long) – enjoy!

The evening primrose were well past peak and at the end of their season. Only a few buds remained on Monday, and it’s likely those have already bloomed.

That said, we’ve heard reports that areas near Mormon Lake (location 12 in the Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers (2nd Ed.) guidebook) are fields of gold right now…

RainTo all of you who have performed the Rain Dance, we thank you!  That liquid gold has finally returned to Arizona!

With the drenching we’ve had yesterday afternoon and this morning, combined with Arizona’s autumn season coming to an end about two weeks early, we start turning our sights not just on enjoying the holidays, but also on getting excited about our images for next spring during the wildflower blooms!

Three resources we use frequently this time of year to help us visualize when and where the flowers might appear include:

  1. NOAA’s El Nino Forecast: (www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/index.shtml)  Published in the second week of each month, this free report forecasts weather patterns based on various models.  According to their reports, Arizona moved out of the drier La Nina forecast in May and the onset of the wetter El Nino looked promising…until August when it dissipated!   Now forecasters suggest we’ll stay in a “Neutral” pattern, so we’ll likely be not too wet, but not too dry, in the months to come.
  2. The Farmer’s Almanac – Long Range Weather Forecast /7-Southwest Region:  (www.farmersalmanac.com/long-range-weather-forecast/southwest-us) Surprisingly accurate (even though they predicted drier conditions during December 12-15th…), this resource provides weather prediction in 3-day increments.  You’re able to see two-months worth of information, but if you sign up for a free account, they will show you their crystal ball for four-months ahead instead.  (I signed up earlier this year, and I’ve yet to receive a spammy-like email from them after doing so.) Their reports forecast sporadic moisture now through March which seems to match what we’d expect in the Neutral weather pattern NOAA’s predicting.
  3. Rainlog.org:  (rainlog.org)  This free website provides the actual amount of rain collected in specific areas across Arizona.  Using the Date Range or Monthly Report options, we see that November was much drier than December for most of the state but there are a few wildflower hot-spots that have seen solid rainfall in both months.  For example, the Gold Canyon area near the Superstition Mountains saw roughly an inch of rain in November, and has already seen a half-inch in December.  That could mean a good start for the flowers in places like Lost Dutchman State Park (location #31 in our Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers book), Silly Mountain (#32), Peralta Trail (#33), Hewitt Canyon (#34), and the Apache Trail (#48).

So what will happen come next February?  Only Mother Nature will tell when the Mexican gold poppies, lupine, and all the other beautiful blooms arrive next spring!  Keep in mind that the annuals are more picky when its comes to precipitation; so even if we don’t get the perfect mix of rain, warmth, and light for the poppies, the less-demanding perennials like brittlebush, desert globemallow, palo verde trees, and all the cacti are loving every minute of this rain too!

Wishing you all a “picture-perfect” holiday season and a very Happy New Year in 2013!  And whatever you do, please keep doing the Rain Dance!

Analemma Press logo

The very talented, Dana John Wentzel (http://danawentzel.com) designed our logo.

Whenever Paul or I mention to someone that we’re in the process of writing and photographing for a book, by far, the most common response is:

“That’s fantastic!  Who’s your publisher?”

The short answer:  Analemma Press, L. L. C.

The long answer:  The first thing Paul and I did after our initial meeting in spring 2010 didn’t have anything to do with photography or writing.  Instead, we started evaluating the market for our idea and developing a query – a formal sales pitch, if you will – to shop our idea around to various traditional publishers.  We were ready to send lengthy letters to a number of selected outlets.

My ears perked up, though, during the 2010 Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) Conference as a number of highly successful book authors shared their experiences with self-publishing.  In less than three days, they collectively talked me out of sending our book idea to a traditional publishers.  They asked, “Do you know who you’re market is?”

“Yes, we think so,” I replied.

“Do you know where to find them?” they inquired.

“Yes, we think so,” I replied again.

“Are you willing to dedicate your own time and money to promote and sell the book to these customers, which you’re going to have to do anyway with a traditional publisher?” they posed.

“Yes, we know so,” I replied to their final question.

“Then publish it yourself!” they suggested enthusiastically and without hesitation.

Though the market analysis effort has already proven to be a valuable activity, we never sent our query letter out to anyone.  We consciously decided to produce, print, and promote our book without the support from an outside publisher.  Then in April 2011 (I joke, in a short moment of downtime/boredom), I formalized our path by creating my own publishing company, Analemma Press, LLC.

Which leads to the second most frequently asked question:

“What’s an analemma?”

Here’s an explanation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analemma.

Naming a new business is tough!   We brainstormed a list of ideas, mostly related to light, photography, creativity, hope, blah, blah, blah.  Nothing grabbed us.  However, after National Geographic posted a photograph of the sun’s analemma during the 2010 holidays (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/12/photogalleries/101228-sun-end-year-analemmas-solstice-eclipse-pictures/), I knew in an instant what name I wanted:  “Analemma Press.”

No, I am not one of the fortunate ones who has recorded this spectacle of nature (but you can bet it’s on the list of things to do!).  I’m enthralled with the planning, effort, and skills involved to capture such an image, though.  As I sketch out my own attempt to photograph an analemma in the future, in the meantime, this name serves as a daily reminder that with the proper planning, effort, and skill, anything is possible, even those things that seem so ridiculously far out of reach…like self-publishing a book!


QUICK BOOK UPDATE:  We’ve worked out a few print issues during our proofing process this week, so we’ve given the printer final approval to press.  Printing starts this Thursday, and we’re hoping to have the books in our hands within the next two weeks (barring any major issues)!!


“Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me.” ~Carl Sandburg

I remember the moment vividly, but to this day, cannot tell you why.  In the summer of 1997, after completing my final college course, “Creative Writing,” I candidly shared with my then-boyfriend-now-husband, Craig, “You know, I would love to write a book someday.  But I have no idea what to write about.”

Without salable topics and content, the notion of ever becoming a writer seemed far-fetched.  Instead, I happily headed to my first job at Intel Corporation in Phoenix, Arizona as a business analyst, ready to put my brand new Business Administration/Computer Information Systems degree to good use.  Corporate life was stressful for this Type-A personality, though.  At my mother’s insistence, I took an “Introduction to Photography” course at the local Chandler-Gilbert Community College to give me a creative outlet.  I showed up to the first class without a camera or a clue, and left five semesters later with an improbable dream of becoming a professional photographer someday.


Paul Gill began photographing in 1975, after receiving his Bachelors of Fine Arts from Arizona State University and working as an art director for 17 years, designing and producing publications and fine art books for companies like the Scottsdale Center for the Arts.   Fifteen years ago, while exploring every nook and cranny of Arizona and building his landscape portfolio, Paul came up with what he thought would be an interesting tagline, “Wild in Arizona.”  But he had no idea how he could incorporate it with his photography.


Paul's Poster

A draft of the poster Paul wanted to create in 2008 for Arizona's national and state parks using the tagline, "Wild in Arizona."

Our paths crossed in September 2003 while on an Arizona Highways Photography Workshop “Colorado Fall Colors” with photographer Jim Steinberg.   Paul was the trip leader/assistant; I was an eager student wanting to learn how to photograph using color slides, since my early training was exclusively in black and white film.  I also made some great friends on that trip, and Paul and I kept in contact once the trip ended.  After a phenomenal learning experience with Jim and Paul, I started to sell my photography at art shows and to editorial and commercial clients.  Then in early 2007,  I left Intel to pursue photography and writing full-time.

As I was trying to get my new business off the ground, Paul was reconsidering his “Wild in Arizona” idea.  In 2008, he pondered developing posters for Arizona’s state and national parks, each of which show the tagline, “Wild in Arizona” with a photograph of the unique wildflowers for that area.  A good idea, but it succumbed to higher priority submissions and assignments.  Arizona Highways, Natures Best, Smith-Southwestern, and numerous other paying gigs took precedence.


On April 21, 2010 – in another moment I’ll never forget – Paul forwarded an email to me from a lady wishing to organize a private photography workshop to capture Arizona’s wildflowers.  After seeing Paul’s amazing wildflower photographs, she also asked, “I have googled Devils Potato Patch, Hills of Silver King and Silly Mountain to no avail.  Is their (sic) some resource book that would guide me to these locations?  Any help you could give me would help.  Thanks.”

Paul taking a break during a working session for the book at Colleen's home. Yes, that's a growler of Epicenter from San Tan Brewing, our "unofficial sponsor" who provided numerous liquid assets during our journey.

The answer to her question was, “No. There isn’t a book out there that shares this information.”

We hear these kinds of questions from people all the time.  I’m not sure what it was about this particular email, but it screamed, “OPPORTUNITY!!”

I typed a message back to Paul as fast as my little fingers would hit the keys, “Did you catch this – she’s given you an incredible opportunity!  “Write a book that guides people to the very best areas to photograph wildflowers in Phoenix or Arizona.”  Who else has done this?!”

Paul immediately responded, “Yes you can have all my images if you want to write and publish.  A book on locations and how to shoot. Love it. Should be called ‘Wild in Arizona.’  See all the opportunities opening.”

Five days later, Paul and I met at San Tan Brewing to review a proposal and outline for a book called “Wild in Arizona.”


Today, we both chuckle when we reminisce about the many past, seemingly ridiculous thoughts we never let go of for some reason:  to write a book, to become a photographer, to put a great idea to use…somehow, someway, someday.  Here we are, after 10-15 years of dreaming and 15 months of the hardest work we’ve ever done, combining our unique talents and working  together on our final edits and preparing our book, “Wild in Arizona:  Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, and How” to go to the printer in mid-September.

It was unplanned, it was unexpected, but certainly it has been one of the best things we’ve worked towards in our lives thus far.  And we can’t wait to share it with all of you soon!


© 2011 Wild in Arizona/Analemma Press, L. L. C. Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha