It takes a special formula of rain in the fall followed by more rain in mid-winter to deliver wild flowers in the spring. Given that Arizona is a desert, rain is not that common. We can go many, many months without so much as a drop.  For us to have enough rain at the right time is like a special alignment of the planets. I would say it happens maybe once every 10 years. 

2018-2019 is one of those years. We had record rains in October, and a cold and rainy winter. Not much fun for those vacationing here during our prime months, but the results have been worth the sacrifice.

Poppies cover the mountains
It is hard to believe this is a desert with the lush green ground cover and endless golden poppies.
Poppies blanket the hills

Purple lupines line roadways and hiking trails. Amidst the lush greenery are flowers of all colors – purples, pinks, oranges, reds, whites and even blue.

Poppies and lupines – the perfect complement of color.

The beauty of the wild flowers is hard to resist, especially my favorite, the poppies. I just want to capture every scene so as to be able to enjoy the flowers the whole year through. Just looking at a computer screensaver of beautiful golden poppies brings a smile to my face.

One might think photographing flowers is easy. After all, they just hang out on a stem. Don’t be so easily misled.

Some of these flowers are very shy. If the sun isn’t up, they don’t open up. During the beautiful light of early morning or late afternoon, all those sunny faces are closed up tight. They want full sun.  If I try to capture these flowers at the perfect time of day (the golden hour), all I get is a clump of petals or a bud shaped flower. 

Shy poppies

There is another group of wild flowers that are not shy at all. In fact, they  get so excited to get their picture taken that they just can’t stay still. They start dancing around and waving their petals. Yes, you guessed it, blurry photos. 

So how does one capture wild flowers?  

I’ve employed a couple of scandalous techniques. One is to sneak up on them so they don’t have time to get excited. Another approach is to shoot them on a sunny day, but from the shade. And the third is to use a telephoto lens so they don’t see me near by.

Too early in the morning for these shy beauties, they’ve only started to open up.

After a lot of work and many outings, here’s a few shots I was able to capture.

The rare light yellow poppy
Shot from the shadows
More purple beauties.
Finally, look at these smiling faces.

If this is the spring wild flowers, I can only imagine the cactus blooms will be just as spectacular and they are just around the corner.  

Remember, it’s all about the light, especially with Arizona wild flowers.