If you’re interested in photographing autumn colors in Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona, I’d recommend you immediately stop reading this blog, grab your cameras, and hit the road NOW!  The colors in the upper canyon are past peak, so this week will likely offer one of the last chances of this year to photograph in one of Arizona’s most scenic canyons!

The sycamores, maples, cottonwoods, and Arizona grape are still showing some color along 89A starting at the renowned West Fork of the Oak Creek Trail (about 11.5 miles north of downtown Sedona) and north up to Pumphouse Wash (about 13.5 miles north of downtown Sedona).  Even though peak appears to have occurred last week – leaf drop is significant and browning out fast – there are still fantastic opportunities to record autumnal hues on these two canyon hikes.

The West Fork of Oak Creek Trail allows for an easy-going, meandering hike along a tranquil creek.  Even a short stroll along the path offers fantastic photographic opportunities (we often joke that you could point your camera in any direction here and capture a great image!).  Bring wide-angle, macro, and telephoto lenses to match the broad subject matter you’ll encounter.  Pack a polarizing filter to enhance or eliminate the reflections in the creek.  And don’t forget an extra lens cloth, water shoes, and a tripod to stabilize your camera during long exposures if you plan to get in the water.  Keep an eye out for poison ivy, which will appear red this time of year.  For additional information about the West Fork of Oak Creek, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/recreation/red_rock/westfork-tr.shtml.

A hike through Pumphouse Wash offers a more strenuous outing, but you’ll likely be one of few people in the canyon, making it an excellent spot for those seeking solitude.  There are no formal parking areas, but two dirt pullouts exist – one south and one north of the signed Pumphouse Wash bridge – on the west side of the road.  The wash runs under this bridge.  It’s a bit of a scramble to drop into the canyon from the north pullout, but the definitive social path shows the safest way down.  Once in the canyon, head eastward.  A trail does not exist.  Instead, you’ll be rock hopping on volcanic and sandstone boulders of all sizes almost the entire route.   Plan on a little extra time for the extra effort you’ll put in.  The best color currently appears within the first 45 minutes of your trek.  Because the scenery can look busy and visually overwhelming along the wash, try a normal or telephoto lens to help isolate your subjects here.  A polarizer will help bring out the colors left in the leaves.

Areas like Grasshopper Point and Slide Rock State Park displayed patchy color, trending towards browning out.  Mother Nature may decide these areas won’t see a lot of color this year, but there are chances to photograph the occasional tree showing a vibrant branch or leaves gracing the ground with a macro lens.  For more information about these two areas, visit:

All for now, happy shooting!

-Colleen

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!

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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)!!

~Colleen

There are days in the book publishing process when you think you just can’t get any more excited.  After all, what could be more thrilling than finishing that last sentence of writing or capturing that final photograph we needed for the layout or sending the completed files to the printer?

Seeing the proofs of our book!  That’s what!

Today, we had the chance to see precisely how our book was going to be printed.  Sure we’ve gone through a few sheets of paper at home trying to check alignments and read through the text during the editing process.  But nothing can compare to seeing your very first book on the exact paper and in the exact format we’ll see with the final product.  It’s really REAL!

In the Fedex packages delivered this morning to Paul’s house, we found our book cover, a bunch of huge sheets with our pages in the signature alignment (odd to see pages 9 and 24 right next to each other in this arrangement, which I don’t totally understand…), and a handful of blue booklets compiled as we’ll see it in several weeks in final book form.

With all the editing for commas, extra spaces, word choice, and the like being completed before the files are even sent to the printer, the only three things we’re looking for at this stage of the game are:

  1. Do the colors look correct?
  2. Are the crop marks – where the printer will cut the pages – cutting off anything important?
  3. Is the print quality high?

Overall, Paul and I (both being remarkably anal, er, I mean “detail-oriented”) were tremendously impressed with the proof quality.  The colors were spot on, everything fit perfectly within the crop marks, and the print quality resembled the quality you’d see in an actual photograph hanging on the wall.  Save for a few minor text color changes, this baby is ready to print!

As our amazing printing team finished prepping the files, one of the team members emailed us some unsolicited feedback.  We don’t mean to brag, but here’s what Donald had to say:

“On a personal note, I am truly impressed with the scope and detail of your book – I never imagined such a comprehensive book was possible.  Many of the images leave me speechless.”

Since we’re so over-the-moon we saw a sneak peak of our book today, we’d like to give you a sneak peak as well!  On the Wild in Arizona website at www.wildinarizona.com, we’ve just posted a FREE 23-page PDF sample of the book!  Inside, you’ll see the official table of contents, three different locations (out of 60), an instructional tip (out of 17), our amazing book sponsors, and more information about Paul and yours truly.

To download, you’ll need the free Adobe Reader software available at Adobe (get.adobe.com/reader).  You can save it, print it, share it, use it as a decorative place mat, wallpaper your bathroom with it – whatever you wish.

Once you’ve had a chance to read through it, drop us a note either here or on Facebook to let us know what you think of your first taste.  We’ve kept this to ourselves for almost 18 months now, so we’re dying to hear what you think!  And if you like what you see, please feel free to share the link to the free sample with anyone you think might enjoy this guidebook.

As always, thank you for your support,

–Colleen

Aspen leaves showing autumnal colors on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

If my air conditioning bill is any indication, it’s been a really long and hot summer here in Phoenix, Arizona, so we’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of fall!  Weather forecasts indicate stormy days are ahead for the Grand Canyon State, as a cold front is expected to move through the area tomorrow.  Perhaps this is the change in season we’ve been waiting for?  Please?  Pretty please?!  With a cherry on top?!!

One of the first places in Arizona to see fall colors is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Situated at over 8,000 feet elevation, the Kaibab Plateau is home to a multitude of color-changing trees, primarily quaking aspen, Gambel oak, and Arizona walnut.  With the combination of warm days and cool nights, this area’s display of color typically peaks around the last week of September.

Not this year!

A visit to this area last week showed the development of color – on the whole – moving a little more slowly and appearing more spotty than normal.   As you drive in along Highway 67, you’ll notice a checkerboard of vibrant patches of yellow and orange aspens intermixed with completely unchanged green-leafed aspens among ponderosa pines.  Spots near the Warm Fire burn area and around DeMotte Park offer the best color en route to the national park right now.

It’s about the same story inside the park.  The burn areas are showing off palettes of yellow, orange, and even red-colored aspen leaves, and are likely at peak as we speak.  On the other hand, quick hikes along the Transept and Widforss trails revealed a lot of green.  Rangers suggested the cliffs along the Transept Trail covered in oak will likely start their peak show the second week of October (almost two weeks late!).  Check out either of these easy paths towards sunset with a wide-angle lens in hand to get one of the best views of autumn arriving to the Grand Canyon.

In search of autumnal signs, we also traveled along a number of our favorite dirt roads – namely Forest Roads 611 and 219 near the East Rim of the canyon – where some stands of aspens exhibited brilliant color, while others appeared comfortably dressed in their summer greens.  These spots offered seemingly endless close-up photography opportunities of multicolored leaves with a macro lens.

Some aspen stands are nearing peak color along Forest Road 219 en route to Marble Point, Kaibab Plateau, Arizona

Though the arrival of fall is late at the North Rim this year, there are plenty of photographic opportunities on the Kaibab Plateau and the Grand Canyon National Park worth the 7-hour drive from Phoenix.  Scenes of Wotan’s Throne from Cape Royal and Mount Hayden from Point Imperial at sunrise and sunset would not disappoint any landscape/nature photographer!

But when things aren’t going the way you planned, sometimes you have to push a little harder and change your perspective.  Though I expected to come home with memory cards full of lively trees in their peak fall colors, I instead came home with a handful of scouting shots related to autumn (as Galen Rowell once suggested, “If it looks good, shoot it.  If it looks better, shoot it again.”) and a memory card full of pictures showing a lone pinyon pine tree beneath the spectacularly clear Milky Way from Marble Point (at the end of Forest Road 219) during a moonless night.

Indeed, it is a photograph of a lively tree!  Just not one that turns color…

The Milky Way shines brightly above a lone pinyon pine tree at Marble Point along the East Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Happy fall and shooting to you all,

– Colleen

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