I recently had the pleasure of meeting Colleen Miniuk-Sperry. Collen and her husband Craig were passing through Moab en route to destinations north. We’ve “known” one another online for a year or so but had never met in person. We all met up at my gallery one evening during their quick visit to Moab. Many laughs were shared and we learned that Colleen and I both share a general disdain for empty blue skies. Clouds, give us clouds!
For those of you who don’t know her, Colleen is a super talented outdoor photographer in Arizona with an impressive client list including National Geographic and Arizona Highways. Her online galleries are filled with breathtaking images from throughout the U.S. She’s a three time Artist-in-Residence at Acadia National Park and her work from there is among the best I’ve ever seen. She’s also an in-demand workshop leader and public speaker, which comes as no surprise to me given her easy-going personality and passion for photography.
Colleen was generous enough to give me a copy of her recent book, ”Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers – A Guide to When, Where and How“, which she co-authored with Paul Gill. Having lived in Arizona for 18 years I’ve got a bit of a love affair with the state. My favorite season in the Sonoran Desert has always been spring. It doesn’t hurt that temperatures are moderate but the biggest reason I so enjoy the transition from winter to summer is that the desert bursts into a kaleidoscope of color. Wildflowers of every hue sprout below towering saguaro cactus and imposing mountain skylines. It is truly a photographer’s paradise. But ”Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers” isn’t just a guide to desert wildflowers. It’s got the entire state covered – north to south, east to west, deserts, mountains and canyons – it’s all in there. And, it isn’t just a guide to photographing wildflowers. Colleen and Paul also included some essential tips on landscape and macro photography.
“Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers” starts out with a description of how to use the book for maximum benefit. It then transitions into a detailed explanation of Arizona’s wildflower seasons including information about what climatic conditions typically result in a bountiful wildflower bloom. There’s also some cautionary tips about the flora, fauna and weather in Arizona that you need to be aware of when exploring and photographing this magnificent state.
The book is divided into five sections that break Arizona into Northern, Western, Central, Eastern and Southern regions. I immediately appreciated this as it makes it uber-easy to find locations specific to the area in which you will be traveling. Another great organizational tool is the inclusion of a summary of the pertinent information on the first page of each location description. Here you will find the bloom time, ideal time of day, type of vehicle required for access to the area and hike difficulty. Again, this makes it easy to further narrow down the sites you’d like to visit. Once you’ve nailed down a few key locations to photograph, it’s time to dig into the real content. Each location contains several beautiful photographs and a page or two describing the area, the types of flowers you’ll find, the gear you’re likely to need and any other details you might find helpful. You’ll also find a map that shows campgrounds in the area, roads, trails and, this is the coolest part, where to find the best wildflower blooms! Each photograph is accompanied by a description that includes the type of wildflower and the equipment used to make the image. Yeah, Colleen and Paul thought of everything.
Even the appendix is useful. In it you will find references to a few more books to assist with wildflower identification and a bloom calendar to help you quickly identify when is the optimal time to visit each location.
“Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers” is a great resource for photographers, hikers and anyone who enjoys the colorful spring bouquet of wildflowers. It is available as a paperback book or as an e-book. You can purchase it in either format on the Analemma Press website or, if you find yourself in the Moab area, stop by The Edge Gallery to pick up a copy.