The Wild in Arizona team cordially invites you to join us for the opening reception of Paul Gill’s “Wildflower Photography Exhibition” this Saturday, April 1 from 2-4 p.m. at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior, Arizona.

Stop by to view his breathtakingly beautiful 20 wildflower prints and chat with him about how he made his inspirational images. Paul suggests these photographs “..are some of my favorites from the past 25 years – from grand carpets of wildflowers in large landscapes to more intimate closeups, and getting inside the flowers unseen details.”  Read more about the exhibit at arboretum.ag.arizona.edu/paulgill.html. See more of Paul’s work on his website at paulgillphoto.com.

Paul will also be signing copies of his and Colleen Miniuk-Sperry’s award-winning guidebook, Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, & How.

And bring your camera to make your own images!  Boyce Thompson Arboretum is in full bloom with a plethora of flowers showing off in the Demonstration and Cactus gardens.  The grounds are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $12.50/person unless you possess an arboretum membership (which provides free entry).  For more information, visit arboretum.ag.arizona.edu/about_us.html.

We’ll see you at Boyce Thompson this Saturday!

A single Arizona lupine in a field of Mexican gold poppies in the Superstition Wilderness Area east of Phoenix, Arizona. By Colleen Miniuk-Sperry

As we anticipate the arrival of this year’s (hopefully) bountiful bloom in Arizona, now is a great time to ensure you have the right gear to make the most of your upcoming wildflower photography outings.

But first, let’s be clear. Possessing the fanciest or most expensive equipment will not make you the world’s best photographer or guarantee amazing images. Both Paul and I philosophically agree that THE most important tool in making personally meaningful photographs is your brain and eyeballs (and hey, those are free!). We also believe in the two sayings: “Less is more,” and “The best camera is the one you have with you.”

Paul has his Canon 65mm 1-5x macro lens on, his Hoodman Hoodloupe attached to his camera, and a cable release in his hand. He’s ready to photograph those brittlebush flowers!

However, some specialized gear for wildflower photography can help expand your ability to solve creative challenges in the field.  As such, here’s what we tuck in our camera bags before heading out on our flower photography shoots:

  • A camera! Bring a backup camera too, because, well, Murphy’s Law…
  • Extra batteries for camera: Be sure they are fully charged!
  • Extra memory cards
  • Lenses:
    • Macro lens (with a 1:1 or 1:2, not a 1:4, magnification ratio).  We prefer the 100mm focal length.  If you plan to photograph insects on flowers, you might invest in a longer focal length, as it will allow you to stay a far enough distance away without scaring off your bug or butterfly.
    • Telephoto or normal focal length lenses paired with extension tube(s) or a close-up filter
  • Tripod: Preferably one without a center column or one with an adjustable center column so you can get low to the ground (which is where the flowers are).  We prefer Manfrotto‘s carbon fiber options because they are lightweight and very easy to use.
  • Focusing rail: Make precise adjustments to you positioning and focusing instead of moving your tripod
  • Cable release or wireless shutter trigger:  Keep your camera from shaking during the exposure.
  • Reflector/diffuser: Add light to shadows with a reflector; create an “instant cloudy day” (aka, even, diffused illumination) over your smaller scene with a diffuser.
  • A Wimberley “Plamp”An indispensable contraption that can hold a flower or a clump of flowers still in the wind.
  • Hoodman Hoodloupe: So you can carefully review your image on your camera’s LCD even in the sunniest of conditions.
  • Filters - primarily for broad landscape scenes of expansive carpets of flowers.  We use and recommend Singh-Ray Filters (Use discount code Colleen10 to receive a 10% discount)
    • Polarizing filter: Reduce reflected glare and haze; increase color saturation; and enhance or eliminate reflections.
    • Graduated neutral density filters: Balance out exposures between the sky and land by holding back light over overly bright areas of the frame.  If you are new to this type of filter, we recommend investing in the Galen Rowell 2- or 3-stop soft gradation filter.  We find using the 4″x6″ sizes to enable the most flexibility to position over our lenses, especially with wide-angle ones.
  • Artificial backgrounds: Mat boards, scrapbook paper, or cloth in natural colors like blue, brown, green, and black.
  • Rain gear for your camera: Clear plastic garbage bags or shower caps work, but an OpTech rain sleeve works a bit better in a steady drizzling .  If it’s pouring, a Think Tank Hydrophobia won’t let you down. Don’t forget a golf umbrella, too!
  • Lens cloths: For keeping your lens free of raindrops and dust.
  • Knee pads or a small gardening pad for kneeling
  • Small backpack to put it all in:  We like ClikElite (Use discount code CEB10 to receive a 10% discount)

Colleen demonstrates how to use a Wimberley Plamp near Mormon Lake, Arizona

In our “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflower (2nd Ed.)” guidebook, we not only present this list of equipment, but we also share in-depth tips on how to use a lot of it in the field through our the Photography Tips, Making the Photo stories, and various location write-ups.

While we’re happy to help, your best and most reliable resource for gear-related questions will certainly be the helpful experts at Tempe Camera in Tempe, Arizona (one of our valued book sponsors and the local shop we frequent).

Last Friday, I took a quick ride out along Highway 60 from Phoenix to Superior. While there are lupine and gold poppies in the center median near Gold Canyon, the desert around Superior still looks very green. I was encouraged by the leaves, though, and a smattering of white popcorn flowers, which typically serves as a good and an early indicator the rest of the flowers are on their way.

They are coming, so time to get yourself–and your gear–ready!

Arizona has received the rains needed the past three months. As a result, the desert is green, and we are starting to see wildflowers sprout

The rains need to continue every few weeks or the sprouts will produce less bloom stalks. We do have a 40% chance of rain this week, and we all hope for more (so all together now, rain dance!). So our current prediction for the Sonoran Desert wildflowers is a normal spring bloom…

BUT! This rain pattern we’re currently seeing is similar what we saw 2010, when we saw a big lupine bloom (see photo below from Silver King Mine, location #36 in our Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflower guidebook). If we get a lot of rain in February, we could also get a owl clover carpet bloom like we had in 2005 in places like the Eagletail Mountains (location #18 in the book).

If we don’t see much rain this month, we still have the old faithful poppy fields like we have seen in the last few years at Peridot Mesa (location #48). A few poppies are already starting to show around Lake Pleasant Regional Park (#20), White Tank Mountain Regional Park (#21), and Lost Dutchman State Park (#31).

If you would like to start planning your wildflower outings in Arizona this spring, pick up a copy of our book to help get you in the right place at the right time: Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflower. Thanks for your support!

And keep an eye on our blog here.  We hope to have a field report up soon!

Author Bruce Taubert, editor/publisher Colleen Miniuk-Sperry, and graphic designer Paul Gill marvel over the new Wild in Arizona book (we might have been a little excited but this was pre-champagne…LOL!)

IT’S HERE and IT’S STUNNING!  We’re thrilled to share our newest guidebook, Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife by Bruce Taubert arrived yesterday afternoon.

And do you know what that means?!  That’s right!  Yesterday and today were our fabulous “Book Ship Days” (one of my favorite days ever).  Bruce, Bruce’s wife Anne, Paul and Colleen were on hand to not only welcome the books off the truck, but also to ship you your pre-ordered, autographed copies!

We created a short behind-the-scenes video to give you an idea of what our day looked like yesterday on YouTube (direct link: https://youtu.be/O4H4cwNr09I):

Tell me Bruce’s first look at his first book isn’t totally priceless!  If you pre-ordered the book: YOU MADE THAT MOMENT HAPPEN!  THANK YOU!!

We couldn’t wait to get them into your hands, so all pre-ordered books have shipped as of this afternoon!  Those of you living in the Phoenix area can expect to receive your books in the next day or two.  For those who live outside of Phoenix but within the United States, I’d start checking the mail for your books in the next three to four days.  International shipments can vary tremendously depending on the country’s customs process, so those of you living outside the U.S. will probably receive your books in the next one to four weeks.

Those who pre-ordered eBooks were super lucky.  All eBooks were emailed via Analemma Press this morning (so check your inbox or your spam/junk folder if you ordered one but can’t find it) so they got an early sneak peek of what Bruce’s book looks like.

After working on for three years, we’d now love to hear what you think about the book/eBook.  If you drop Colleen an email at cms@cms-photo.com, I’ll be sure it gets to the whole team.  We might even add you to our new book testimonial page too!

We cannot thank our corporate sponsors, Indiegogo fundraising supporters, and everyone who has purchased a book thus far enough for the overwhelming and generous support we’ve received to bring this book (our dream!) to fruition.  Take a second to check out our awesome sponsors and those Indiegogo supporters who contributed $100 or more to our campaign at http://wildinarizona.com/sponsors_wildlife.html.

Then grab your new book and get WILD in Arizona!

P.S. If you love the book so much and want to pick up another copy for you or a friend–or you missed pre-ordering–the book/eBook is now available from http://www.wildinarizona.com so you can order additional signed copies.

Author and photographer Bruce Taubert

The Wild in Arizona team is thrilled to announce our newest book guidebook, Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s WILDLIFE, A Guide to When, Where, & How by wildlife photographer extraordinaire Bruce Taubert is now available for pre-order through our new Indiegogo campaign at www.indiegogo.com/projects/wild-in-az-photographing-az-s-wildlife-book!

Set for a July 2016 release, Bruce’s beautiful wildlife guidebook includes:

  • 50 spectacular locations to find a broad diversity of animals to photograph across Arizona
  • Over 220 inspiring color photographs with technical information
  • 14 instructional wildlife photography tips
  • 12 “Making the Photo” stories
  • A comprehensive Photography Basics and Gear Checklist section
  • A Shoot Calendar to find the best wildlife photography opportunities year-round

But we need your help! Publishing will be expensive!

To publish the wildlife book will cost about $15,000, considering costs associated with printing, shipping, etc.  Bruce, Paul Gill, and I started an Indiegogo campaign, where we are seeking your assistance in raising $5,000 to help us cover less than half of these costs to publish the book.

Now through May 18, 2016, as a thank you to YOU–our valued supporters–for your help, we are offering:

  • Discounts on the new book and eBook (which won’t be available after the campaign concludes)
  • The chance to get your name in the book forever
  • Private half-day and full-day workshops with Bruce
  • A three-day private workshop extravaganza with Bruce

The money raised during this campaign will go directly towards the printing costs of the book–and to help Bruce’s dream come true!

So don’t delay – pre-order your copy today!  We’ll ship you the first books hot off the truck in July 2016 when it arrives!

And then please help us spread the word by sharing the Indiegogo campaign link (www.indiegogo.com/projects/wild-in-az-photographing-az-s-wildlife-book) with your family, friends, and camera clubs – anyone you know who might enjoy photographing wildlife.

For more information about this book, please visit the book’s website at www.wildinarizona.com.  Two of our book reviewers had this to say about Bruce’s book: 

“Reading this book is like having the author in the field with you and gaining the knowledge and inspiration to plan your own wildlife photographic adventure.”
~Amy Horn, M.Ed., photography lecturer at Northern Arizona University, and photo workshop leader

“Author and expert wildlife photographer Bruce Taubert, with more than four decades of experience in the field, shares his insider information, lushly illustrated with his stunning photographs of Arizona’s extraordinary menagerie of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. This book reveals their hiding places and teaches you effective nature photography techniques that enable you to capture your own striking images of the untamed world.” 
 ~ Peter Ensenberger, former Arizona Highways Director of Photography and photography workshop leader

So if you’re WILD about WILDLIFE, then pick up your discounted copy today!

Bruce, Paul, and I thank you for your support!

It’s raining again this morning in Phoenix and the only things fuller than the typically dry desert washes right now are Paul’s and my email inbox’s flooded with questions similar to “With all this rain we’re getting, will this be the killer wildflower bloom we’ve all be waiting for in the Arizona desert?”

After less than spectacular blooms for the past several years, this year, we are optimistically encouraged by the amount of precipitation – and as a result, the greening desert.  Although the verdict is still out on what will develop, we do have some early indications of what may come to pass for this year’s desert bloom.

We have been tracking the actual rainfall in a number of key flower hot spots since November, which is when we need abundant winter rains to trigger the sprouting process.  (We need solid rains in November and December, and then steady sprinkles in January, February, and March for a great annual bloom).   Based on rainlog.org data, here’s what we’ve seen in areas where rainfall amounts are collected:

As you can see, the season didn’t start off terribly well (zero rain in November), but has rebounded quite impressively in December and into January (and it’s still raining, at least in Phoenix, as we speak).  Whether December’s amounts were enough to make up for November’s will remain unknown until we see the magnitude and depth of the spring bloom beginning in the next three to six weeks.

First globemallow bud in Paul’s backyard from yesterday

Around the start of the new year, the desert experienced a couple of freezes.  The brittlebush bloom had begun early in some locations, but then those buds froze.  The perennial plants seem to be re-budding as the weather warms, which is good news.  The poppies and other annuals were also affected by the freeze.  How much so, though, will also remain a mystery until we start to see the annual bloom appear.

February is a critical month.  Sort of like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, everything needs to be “just right.”  Too much rain could encourage the grasses to grow and choke out flowers.  Too little rain could cause a smaller bloom.  Cold weather could slow the progress and delay the bloom while warm weather could speed it up.

According to NOAA, Arizona remains in an El Nino Watch status with a 50-60% of this system emerging onto the scene in the next two months.  An El Nino typically brings additional rain to the desert southwest,  which can affect the annual, perennial, and cactus bloom starting in late February through June.  The Farmer’s Almanac is also predicting rain showers for the area from February 1-7 and again February 21-26.  If this prediction pans out, it’s the steady sprinkles we need at the precisely the right time of year.

First poppy bud in Paul’s backyard from yesterday

What can you do to get ready for what’s to come?

Keep your fingers crossed, everyone!

Colleen & Paul

Thanks to many of you, we are SOLD OUT of our “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers” books.  We continue to have requests for copies (that we don’t have) and many of you sent in great suggestions for new locations and new flowers.

Sooo, we need more books!

After considerable thought, Paul Gill and I (Colleen Miniuk-Sperry) are working hard to come out with the Enhanced 2nd Edition of our award-winning guidebook,   “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, & How” (scheduled to be published in March 2015).

We’ve listened to your suggestions, and as such, the enhanced 2nd edition features:

  • 13 new spectacular locations
  • 12 new featured flowers
  • 10 new “Making the Photo” stories
  • Over 80 new photographs
  • An updated Bloom Calendar

In other words, we’ve made an award-winning guidebook even better!   (To view more information about the original book, visit our website at www.wildinarizona.com.)

But we need your help! Publishing will be expensive!

To publish the Enhanced 2nd Edition will cost about $14,000, considering costs associated with printing, shipping, etc. (Most authors do not make money on books, and this is why they call us “Starving Artists!” LOL!)

Paul and I started an Indiegogo campaign, where we are seeking your assistance in raising $5,000 to help us cover less than half of these costs to publish the book.  We are so passionate about helping others grow in their own photography and helping others get outside to enjoy all that Arizona has to offer.

As a thank you to YOU, our valued supporters, we are offering discounts on:

  • The new book and eBook!
  • Private half-day workshops with me
  • One-day workshop with Paul and me - only 5 available!
  • 3-day Arizona workshop extravaganza with Paul and me – only 3 available!

And the chance to get your name in the book forever!

To jump in on these exciting, but limited-time, perks, visit our new Indiegogo campaign at www.indiegogo.com/projects/wild-in-az-photographing-az-s-wildflowers-book now through February 6, 2015.  And then get your camera ready for Arizona’s upcoming spring wildflower bloom!

As always, thanks much for your support!
Paul and Colleen

We are so thrilled to finally announce our “top secret” Wild in Arizona project:  the new guidebook, “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife!”  If you liked our wildflower book and you enjoy photographing wildlife, then this will be an outstanding resource for you as you explore the Grand Canyon State in search of critters, big and small.

But neither Paul nor I (Colleen) will be writing or photographing this book.  While both Paul and I photograph wildlife on occasion (typically when it runs into our landscape scenes…), we both knew there was one person who would knock this book out of the ballpark…and we are equally as excited to announce that we’ve partnered with him to make this come to life!

Wildlife photographer extraordinaire, Bruce Taubert, has joined our team to author and photograph the next book in our series, “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife.”  (Paul will focus on graphic design and production, while I will serve as the official publisher.)

If you do not Bruce already from his amazing photography work in magazines like Arizona Highways or his highly-sought after photography workshops, then here’s a quick snapshot of his credentials:

Bruce Taubert

Bruce has been photographing the worlds wildlife and wild places for over 40 years.    His work has been published in Arizona Highways magazines and calendars, Smith-Southwestern Calendars, WildBird, Birders World, Ranger Rick, Arizona Wildlife Views magazine and calendars, Conservation International, several websites, Bat Conservation International and a host of educational books and other publications.  Bruce produced most of the photos for the Arizona Game and fish Departments “Bats of Arizona” and was featured photographer in “El Cielo” a book dedicated to the conservation of a cloud forest in Tamaulipas, Mexico.  Bruce is lead photographer on several Arizona Highways Photo Workshops and teaches photography workshops in Africa and Ecuador. 

 Bruce  has lived and worked in Arizona since 1981.  After receiving his PhD he began his career as the Chief of Fisheries for the Arizona Game and Fish Department and retired as the Assistant Director for Wildlife Management.  Bruce was a founding member and President of Arizona Watchable Wildlife Tourism Association and a Board Member on Watchable Wildlife Inc.  He also was a founding member of the international conservation non-profit Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.  Bruce spent 20 years traveling the world working on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.  Bruce’s first trip to Africa working for the FAO was in 1979 and he has returned 14 times. 

Despite a busy year, Bruce has already typed out a first draft of the manuscript and has offered some absolutely incredible wildlife photographs to help begin with layouts.  We still have loads of work ahead of us, but we are working towards a mid-2015 release.

But we could really use you’re help right now!  We’ve put together five different possible options for the cover of this new book and would like to know your thoughts.  Which one do you like the best?  Why?  Are there any you don’t like?  Why?  Don’t be shy! Let us know what you think by leaving us a comment below and we’ll enter you in a drawing for a FREE copy once we release it next year. Your input will help guide our decision of which cover to use!

Here are the five, in no particular order:

Cover #1

WIA Wildlife Cover #1

 

Cover #2:

WIA Wildlife Cover #2

 

Cover #3:

WIA Wildlife Cover #3

 

Cover #4:

WIA Wildlife Cover #4

 

Cover #5:

WIA Wildlife Cover #5

We thank you for your help, and can't wait to share this wonderful new resource with you soon!

~Colleen, Paul, and Bruce

 

Autumn arrives to the West Fork of Oak Creek in previous years.

Following a long closure after the devastating Slide Fire this summer, the Oak Creek Canyon, including the famed West Fork (north of Sedona) reopens today! Just in time for autumn!

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/story/travel/road-trips/2014/09/30/oak-creek-canyon-sedona-open-slide-fire/16473799/.

The trees in this area typically start donning their fall coat in mid-October, with the peak right around Halloween and lingering into early November (depending on the weather).  Although fire crews made a concerted effort to protect this riparian area, it’s unknown how that will affect (if at all) the changing of the leaves on the trees that remain.  Best thing to do?  Grab your camera and check it out!

Happy shooting!

Autumn arrives to the West Fork of Oak Creek in previous years.

 

 

We’ve just learned some BIG news!  We’re so excited to share that our book has just won FOUR awards in two international book competitions!

The 2012 International Book Awards has named our guidebook as the:

  • Winner of the Best Nature Photography Book
  • Winner of Best Interior Design – Non-Fiction

As if that announcement didn’t already make our year, our book was also recently named a Finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards for:

  • Best Travel/Travel Guide
  • Best Overall Design

As the saying goes, “No man is an island” and as such, we have a long list of people to thank, including the two organizations who coordinated these contests.

We truly feel these awards honor the team effort between not just the two people with their names on the front cover, but also our talented editor, Erik Berg, in addition to our awesome focus group members who helped us finalize the layout and design of the book:  Erik Berg, Kelly Pape, Denise Schultz, Bev Secord, Kerry Smith, Holly Smith, and Floris Van Breugel.

We also have our generous book sponsors to thank for helping us see this project come to fruition: Tempe Camera, Arizona Highways Photography Workshops, Wimberley, Hoodman, Think Tank Photo, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and STO-FEN.

We’d also like to thank our families for their patience and understanding when we’d disappear trying to capture that final shot or to rewrite the Introduction for the 11th time in the middle of the night.

Most of all, though, we’d like to thank YOU for reading our blog, buying our book, and sharing it with others!   Your ongoing support means so much to us.

So tonight, we raise our glasses to you, our valued team and community, in celebration.  CHEERS EVERYONE!

~Colleen and Paul

P.S. If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of the book or eBook and would like to (or maybe you have a friend who might enjoy it?), please visit www.wildinarizona.com to order.  We’d love to send you a copy!  OK, that’s all for the shameless self-promotion plug… :D

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