Chasing Sunflowers

Last week the Washingon Post ran a front page photo of a woman standing in front of a huge field of sunflowers. After reading the caption, I learned that the sunflower field was located somewhere north of Baltimore, MD, about 12 miles from the PA line. I knew that my Saturday was free and a quick check of the WeatherBug let me know that the weather was supposed to be amazing. With everything lining up favorably, I started packing my camera gear Saturday morning for the 2+ hour drive North to capture some sunflowers.

Although my GPS did a great job of guiding me to where I believed the sunflower fields to be, they were nowhere to be found. Luckily I had my iPad with me and after a little more research I was able to find one of the fields and started setting up my tripod for some colorful shooting. Right off the bat I noticed one critical thing, sunflowers grow with the flowers facing the morning sun. This would have been good info to know before showing up in the afternoon with the sun firmly planted in the western sky. Nevertheless, I started working the field and flowers for everything they were worth and then packed up for the long drive home. I didn’t get very far though because about 10 minutes down the road I found an even larger field and this was obviously one of the more popular spots because there were about 30 or so other photographers there with all sorts of gear and a lot of step ladders. Obviously this was not their first rodeo.  I shot here for a while longer and then packed up and headed home to start processing some images.

Here’s a few shots from the day -

I sort of cheated on this next shot by grabbing the stalk of the flower and turning the face of the flower a little more towards the camera. No flowers were harmed in the making of this photo.

I wasn’t the only one hanging out in the fields. I found this guy grabbing a quick snack on one of my subjects.

Ever wonder where all those sunflower seeds come from? I used to until I saw this. This is what is hiding behind the face of the flower. When all those little blooms fall out, it leaves behind this very cool grouping of seeds.

What you can’t see in the photo below is my baseball cap being held high in front of the lens to shade against the sun and creating some ugly lens flare. It’s always good idea to wear a hat when on a shoot!

This turned out to be one of my favorite shots on the day. I had to position the camera just right on the tripod so that the sun was peeking in from underneath the top flower. I had my lens aperture set to f/22 so that the sun would form that great starburst affect. The first couple of images were okay but the flowers were pretty dark so I used a flash to counteract the backlighting and pop some light where it was needed most.

If you would like to try your hand at some sunflower photography you still probably have time to get some good shots before the flowers completely drop their petals. Just follow this link to open a Google map page with a pin dropped right on the location.

Comments

  1. I like that last shot, too, Jeff. And you gotta love those clouds!

  2. I really like photos 1 & 5 – In the first one, the flowers seem sad that the sun is no longer facing them. And in photo 5, the sunflowers just seem to go on for miles. thanks for sharing

  3. I love the grasshopper; he looks like he’s annoyed that you interrupted his lunch :)

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