Underneath the poppies at Peridot Mesa (Photograph by Paul Gill)

Despite a somewhat rainy November and December, the desert has been dry as a bone for the first three months of 2012.  Some areas, including Phoenix and its surroundings, have not seen a measurable drop of rain this year!

No doubt the lack of much needed precipitation has affected the annual bloom this season.  Though we saw an extremely early and rare poppy bloom near Superior and Globe, we’re seeing a low-to-nonexistent bloom in typically reliable spots.  Without new moisture in the near future, we could also see a low-to-non-existent perennial bloom as well – meaning the globemallow, brittlebush, and lupine might not show their beautiful colors well this year either.

So all together now, everybody do a rain dance!

Peridot Mesa shadows (Photography copyright Paul Gill)

Here’s what we’ve found in our most recent wanderings…

Current Hot Spots:

  • Peridot Mesa on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation is still miraculously showing smaller carpets of Mexican gold poppies on the inner basin and northern slopes, but the area is starting to seed out.  So stop reading this blog and go out there RIGHT NOW if you want to photograph this area this year!  It’s on its way down….don’t forget to pick up the required $10 permit from the Circle K in Globe before visiting Indian lands.
  • Boyce Thompson Arboretum has spotty poppies sprouting near the Cactus Garden and a broad mix of wildflowers in the Desert Garden in the Demonstration Garden.  Many cactus and succulents are just now starting to show some blooms.
  • Desert Botanical Garden has an abundance of Parry’s penstamon, brittlebush, lupine, blanketflower, and a few Texas Mountain Laurel trees – which smell like grape soda! – in bloom.  Did not see much in the way of cactus blooms yet, but it’s still early to see buds.

Peridot Mesa (Photograph copyright Paul Gill)

Showing, but Just “A’ight”:

  • Some blooms past the saddle on Happy Camp Road near Peachville Mountain area.
  • Gonzales Pass showing healthy Parry’s penstamon and desert globemallow
  • The white albino poppies were still showing along FR459 at Bartlett Lake this past Sunday, as were scattered chuparosa, brittlebush, lupine , scorpionweed, and owl clover; I could count the number of chia we saw on one hand.  Continue driving past the saddle and look for the dirt pullouts on the left side to find the limited set of flowers.  Be sure to pick up the Tonto Pass at the Ranger’s Station or Bartlett Lake Marina before parking along the road.

Not Happening:

  • The Mexican gold poppy show at Peachville Mountain and Silver King Mine Road is done on the east side.
  • The rangers at the Lost Dutchman State Park are reporting some spotty flowers along the Jacob’s Crosscut Trail. While I did not have the chance to hike that trail on Friday, the lower elevations close to the parking areas are barren of wildflowers, save for a few bunches of fiddleneck.

    Lupine and poppy buds (Photography copyright Paul Gill)

Rumor Has It…(We’ve not seen, only heard from others):

  • Catalina and Picacho Peak state parks are reportedly still showing Mexican gold poppies and an array of other flowers right now, thanks to a little bit of rain in the Tucson area in January.  Keep your eye on the Arizona State Parks Ranger Cam at azstateparks.com/rangercam/index.html for the most up-to-date sightings for these and other state parks.

Happy shooting,

~Paul and Colleen

Silver King Mine Road/Peachville Mountains

#38: Silver King Mine Road (page #128)

As a quick follow-up to our last blog post and to answer some of the questions we’ve received overnight from readers (thank you!)…

For those who have picked up a copy of our “Wild in Arizona:  Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, and How,” turn to page 128 for the Silver King Mine Road which gets you into the Peachville Mountain area to which Paul Wolterbeek referred in the last post.  We’ve provided directions, a map, and photography tips to help get you to the right place at the right time and record this magical site.

Before you head out this weekend, please also take a minute to review the “Leave No Trace Principles” section on page 24 so that everyone may enjoy the first taste of spring!  We can’t emphasize treading lightly enough.

Now, if you haven’t purchased a copy of our guidebook, you can pick up a signed copy and/or eBook at http://www.wildinarizona.com/order.html.  Or stop by the Boyce Thompson Arboretum Gift Shop which is en route to the Silver King Mine Road area.  Silver King Mine Road is just one of 60 different locations featured in the book to see Mother Nature’s bounty in between now and September!

Happy trails,

~Colleen

The poppies are coming!  The poppies are coming!Mexican Gold Poppy

While some northern states are still buried in snow, it’s almost 70 degrees here in sunny Phoenix, Arizona (gotta love winter in the desert!). Thanks to some healthy rains in November and December (not so much in January though), combined with mild but warmer temperatures, we’re starting to see wildflowers in the desert already.

Poppies, like the one on the right from a couple years ago at Florence Junction, are beginning to pop up along the roadsides, as are blooms of globemallow, brittlebush, and desert marigolds. The result of human hydroseeding efforts, these early bloomers suggest the wild bloom may be just around the corner…on the early side if this weather continues…

Our good friend, Paul Wolterbeek at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park reports:

“Check out Peachville Mountain (north of Superior, AZ and best accessed from the Silver King Mine Road off highway 60)  over the next two weeks for hillsides of Goldpoppies — from 5 miles away you can already see the first west-facing hillsides turning orange-gold. Poppies are blooming now, but peak color should be 10-14 days ahead. Judging from the size of the hillside swaths I saw today – could be breathtaking by next week (maybe even this coming weekend).

Lesquerella, also known as bladderpod. Photo courtesy of Paul Wolterbeek.

Today I hiked a section of Arnett Canyon south of Boyce Thompson Arboretum with my co-worker Gonzalo, who lead me to a nice (though small, isolated and remote) hillside of goldpoppies. Photographed ‘em with charismatic saguaros in the background. Not my best poppy JPGs ever, but still my first for 2012 so I’m pleased! Red Maids and Henbit were abundant, we also saw a few scattered Firecracker Penstemon, Bluedicks, Bladderpod (both yellow and the “purpurea” variety with white flower clusters); Blackfoot Daisies – and even Desert Lavender. One Desert Anemone growing in the volcanic rocks down by the dry creekbed was a welcome surprise. Blooming flowers were few, but unusually early this year for our elevation (2,400 feet); Gonzalo pointed out abundant lupine, phacelia and other annuals that will flower over the coming weeks. Spring’s already looking good!

Photographers: if you go, please be careful and walk lightly – don’t trample small shoots that are coming up, Feb. 8 is still quite early in the season, with many flowers yet to bloom – so please tread lightly over all the lupines-to-be, phacelia, mallows and others that aren’t showy yet, but soon will be.”

Wolterbeek – who’s definitely as wild about wildflowers as we are!! – also kindly sent us a list of the first signs he’s seen of spring within the state park, which included:

  • “Marah gilensis (WILD CUCUMBER), all over the park – watch for skyward-reaching vines and coiled tendrils the plant uses to climb above host plants it uses as ladders to reach sunlight. clusters of starfish shaped flowers now will turn into fruit shaped like a medieval mace.
  • Crossosoma bigelovii (RHYOLITE BUSH, aka ragged rock flower), a cool shrub endemic to areas with volcanic rock, rhyolite, such as you find with our towering volcanic cliffs at BTA that are remnants of picket post mountain’s volcanic past. rhyolite bush is flowering strong this week, in fact many are at peak now — early this year.
  • Lycium exsertum (TOMATILLO), larger shrubs all along the main trail which began flowering back in January – and are at peak right now.  Flowers are tubular and downward pointing — worthy photo ops when they’re being worked by native bees. watch for little red berries on these shrubs in a month or so.
  • Simmondsia chinensis (JOJOBA), a member of the boxwood family, and a common desert shrub known for the coffee-bean-sized brown seeds you can snack on if you’re hiking a desert trail from may-through-july when ripe. you can’t easily tell the sex of these plants during fall and winter – but its obvious now when they’re flowering. many of these are at peak at BTA now. flowers are nondescript, green and unshowy – but its an important native plant if you’re into ethnobotany.
  • Lesquerella purpurea (PURPLE BLADDERPOD), the very first of these began blooming this weekend right along the trail up above Ayer Lake. despite the name, look for white flowers.
  • Phacelia distans (PHACELIA, scorpionweed); a member of the waterleaf family, the very first scattered few of these are blooming along the ‘switchbacks’ section of trail down below picket post mansion, just above queen creek. expect to see thickets of this photogenic, fuzzy & blue/purple/violet flower by mid/late February.
  • Ephedra viridis (MORMON TEA), like jojoba, this one’s unshoy and innocuous, but look closely at the flower clusters and you’ll see they resemble pine cones. they’re related.”

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum will start up their excellent guided wildflower walks with Cass Blodgett starting the first weekend in March.  For extra photography help, Paul and I will return to the Arboretum on March 3rd for another round of FREE presentation and photo walks.   For details on these two opportunities, check out http://ag.arizona.edu/bta/.  We also have a full schedule of additional events posted on our Wild in Arizona website at http://www.wildinarizona.com/events.html.

Starting within the next week or so, we’ll start posting field reports based on Paul and my upcoming outings so stay tuned to our blog here!  Another great resource to bookmark is the DesertUSA Wildflower Reports at http://www.desertusa.com/wildflo/wildupdates.html.

Happy color chasing!

~Colleen

Desert marigold blooming in Paul's garden

Will we have a good wildflower season in 2012?  That’s the million-dollar question, one we’re already trying to answer!

Though the start of the Arizona wildflower season is still several months away, we’ve started to actively track the precipitation now to help predict what will happen next year.  The current models say the Grand Canyon State will experience another La Nina year, which indicates a drier than normal year.  That said, forecasters are expecting weekly erratic rains now through January.  Keep your eye on the current weather and the Farmer’s Almanac for the Southwest region at http://www.farmersalmanac.com/long-range-weather-forecast/southwest-us/, which provides predictions for the next two months.

Mother Nature will ultimately decide how next year’s wildflower season turns out, but we’re already seeing signs of beautiful blooms.  The photos here are from Paul’s wildflower test garden this week, which show some wild poppies and scorpionweed beginning to show.  There’s even a desert marigold in full bloom!  The small poppy sprouts still could freeze off.  Marigolds bloom year-round so this type of growth is normal, but it looks better than last year.

Poppy sprouts from Paul's garden

Stay tuned to our Wild in Arizona blog, as we’ll be posting up-to-date information from the field as things develop now thru next March.  In the meantime, be sure to grab your copy of our newest book, “Wild in Arizona:  Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, and How” (http://www.wildinarizona.com) to read more information about predicting wildflowers and to get ready for next spring’s bounty in Arizona!

~Paul and Colleen

We’re excited to announce our first Book Signing Event with one of our valued book sponsors, Tempe Camera, on December 10th from 9 am to 5 pm.

Stop by to pick up your copy of our newly released book, “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, and How.”

Co-authors Colleen Miniuk-Sperry and Paul Gill will be on hand to sign books, share behind the scenes stories about the photos in the book, and chat about the 2012 spring bloom forecast.

In addition to the book signing, Colleen will be presenting two educational 30 minute sessions (times TBD) about “When, Where, and How to Photograph Arizona’s Wildflowers.”

And thanks to our book sponsors, we’ll also be raffling off great prizes from Wimberley, Think Tank Photo, Hoodman, and more throughout the day!

So come on down to Tempe Camera on December 10th to have some photo fun and gear up for the holidays and next year’s wildflower season! Friends, family, and photo enthusiasts all welcome at this FREE event.

Colleen and Paul look forward to seeing you there!

Yep, it's real!

Though we’ve had plenty of time to think about it – 18 months to be precise – we didn’t know how we’d react to seeing our first book in our hands.

Just seconds after the moving truck came to a halt in front of my house and the driver revealed the contents of his cargo, Paul grabbed a heavy, back-breaking cardboard box of 54 books off the truck, ran up the short driveway, sliced open the box as fast as he could with a key, and pulled out a single copy.  To smell it.  Nothing like fresh ink on glossy pages to prove an existence.

We didn't expect a moving truck to deliver our books! But 3200 pounds of books arrived on two very large pallets...

As I grabbed the now three-dimensional version of our book out of the same box, my hand covered my mouth as tears welled up in my eyes.  I whispered, “Oh my, look at what have we done.”

Then, celebratory hugs were in order, “We did it.  We really did it!!  It’s here!  Whoohoo!”

Jubilation turned instantaneously to panic for us two Type-A personalities, though:  quick, thumb through it.  Did any of the page numbers get cut off ?  (No, of course not, that’s just silly!)  How do the photos look?  (Wow, they look like photos printed on photo paper!  Two thumbs up to our printer!  Awesome!)  And holy crap, are all those boxes really going to fit in my garage?!  (Yes, so long as we re-stack them on the pallets…and let’s just hope lots of our friends have lots of friends!!)

Temporary insanity aside, both Paul and I now feel an overwhelming sense of gratefulness.  I’ll spare you an Academy Awards-like “thank you” speech, but we have an incredibly long laundry list of people to thank for helping us and encouraging us in seeing this book – our dream – come to fruition…we hope to be able to thank you each of you in person soon.

Shipping our pre-orders today. Thank you!

For those of you who pre-ordered the book:  THANK YOU!  We’ve signed and shipped your order to you late this afternoon, so be on the watch for it this week (U.S. based) or next week or so (international).  For those who haven’t ordered a copy yet or are considering gifts for the upcoming holidays, we have plenty of copies hot-off-the-press waiting to send to you (and all your friends! HA!)!

Whenever you get a chance to take a peek at it, we’d love to hear what you think so drop us a note either here, on Facebook, G+, or via email.

The truck didn't have a lift gate, so we had to unload all the books from the street to my garage.

Happy reading and happy shooting!  And most of all, thank you.

~Colleen

Paul is too modest to toot his own horn, but I’m sure happy to!

I just opened the December 2011 issue of the Arizona Highways magazine, and saw that one of Paul’s photographs has been included in the “50 Greatest Photographs” to have appeared in the magazine.  You might recognize this exquisite shot, as it was first published this past March as the opening two-page spread for the Wildflower portfolio.

One things for sure, Paul knows how to photograph wildflowers!

Congratulations, Paul!

Dew drops cling to a Mexican Golden Poppy and refract a nearby saguaro in the droplets. Sonoran Desert west of Bartlett Lake, Arizona. Paul Gill Photography

 

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)!!

~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

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