Are you WILD about wildlife?

If so, then mark your calendars! Join photographer and author Bruce Taubert at enthralling photography workshop on April 28, 2018 at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum (BTA). During this special event, Bruce will narrate photographs, share anecdotes, and explain exposure and composition techniques from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. He will also answer questions after the class concludes. The session costs $50 for non-members (or $37.50 for Arboretum annual members – who don’t pay separate garden admission). In addition to the two-hour slideshow and class, pre-paid enrollees will get a free copy of his award-winning guidebook, “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife” (a $25 value).

Bruce’s book spotlights 50 spectacular locations to find diverse animals to photograph across Arizona. It’s packed with 220 color photographs, technical information, instructional wildlife photography tips, “Making the Photo” stories,  a comprehensive checklist of photography basics and gear, and a calendar that predicts year-round wildlife photography opportunities.

For four decades, photographing Arizona wildlife has made Bruce’s life rich with experience and anecdotes, from netting bats after dark, to staying calm while face-to-face with massive bull elk on the Mogollon Rim. He earned a doctorate in wildlife management and retired a few years ago as assistant director for wildlife management at the Arizona Game and Fish Department. He has taught Arizona Highways photo workshops and lectured about wildlife photography at the BTA. Bruce’s work has been published in Arizona Highways, WildBird, Birders’ World, among dozens of other magazines.

To learn more about this photography workshop, visit https://arboretum.ag.arizona.edu/photoclass.html (scroll down to the April 28th event listing). To register, call the arboretum at 520.689.2723 during daytime business hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. AZ time). To see more of Taubert’s photos and read more about him at brucetaubert.com.

Javelina at the Desert Photo Ranch. Photo by Bruce Taubert.

If you are looking for a new place to photograph Arizona’s desert wildlife, then look no further than the new Desert Photo Retreat!

Ron and Janine Niebrugge recently acquired a 10-acre piece of the beautiful Upper Sonoran desert east of the town of Marana in the Tortolita Mountains (north of Tucson). Although the Niebrugge’s have lived at the property for three years, this is the first year they have opened it up to outside photographers.

According to his online bio: “Ron attended college at Eastern Washington and then went on to get his masters at UCI. After graduating from UCI he stayed on in So Cal where he met his wife, Janine. In 1991 they returned to Alaska and made Seward, Alaska home, where they still reside. In 2002 Ron, along with Janine, decided to follow his passion for photography on a full-time basis, leaving comfortable corporate jobs for the unknown life of a professional photographer. Ron and Janine never looked back.” His striking photography work can be found at http://www.wildnatureimages.com.

Fox at the Desert Photo Ranch. Photo by Bruce Taubert.

At the Desert Photo Retreat, saguaros, ironwood, palo verde, and tons of cactus pack the property. It also features a permanent water source, and the birds are fed abundantly. Thus, it’s a haven for wildlife.

Although Ron seemingly sees all of the desert birds visit his new home, I visited recently to specifically to photograph javelina and gray fox. The birds are easy, the fox predictable, and the javelina reliable. Two blinds on the property put you in the best position for great morning and evening light.

The javelina image is one of several I took on my first visit. These cute but voracious “pigs” are best photographed at the pond blind. The gray fox begin their activities at dusk and are active all night. Flashes and some knowledge of remote photography will help. The fox make several visits to the pond blind during the night. If you can stay up late, you should be successful. Ron’s other blind is set up primarily for desert birds and is incredibly active.

An airstream trailer is available for overnight stays on the property for singles or couples. It’s better than most hotels I stay at. For an additional fee, Ron can guide you for a half- or full-day.

The only downside? The Desert Photo Retreat is only open from October through April.

Give the Desert Photo Retreat a try! You will not regret it.  Learn more at Desert-photo-retreat.com.

~Bruce

Fox at the Desert Photo Ranch. Photo by Bruce Taubert.

Ahead of the Rest

Are you WILD about wildflowers? Who wants to join the “poppy-razzi?”

The Arizona desert hasn’t seen much rain this winter to trigger a spectacular spring bloom. But, this is the perfect time to dust off your camera and macro lens and get ready for a more impressive bloom in the future. Besides, there will still be flowers to photograph…if you know where to look…

Join “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers” authors/photographers Paul Gill and Colleen Miniuk-Sperry at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum (where the staff consistently water their plants…) on our fabulous “Wild About Wildflowers…and Macro Photography” workshop to polish up your flower and macro skills at the beginning of the spring season. We’re SO wild about wildflowers, we have not one but TWO two-day sessions planned: March 17-18, 2018 (sold out) and March 24-25, 2018 (9 spaces left).

Over these two jam-packed days, you’ll benefit from hearing approaches and ideas from two different successful photography instructors to help you refine your own style. You’ll not only have the opportunity to hone new skills out in a safe and supportive learning environment, but you will also create meaningful macro photographs to be proud of. Fun guaranteed!

If learning, playing, laughing, and photographing wildflowers is your thang, you won’t want to miss this outing! Come join the “poppy-razzi!”  For more information and registration visit http://cms-photo.com/Workshops/2018Wildflowers.

We hope to see you there!

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

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