A few years ago I heard about these sunflower fields that grow in the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, MD. The state plants the fields primarily to lure doves – which come after the flowers are mowed down – for hunting season in September. For the few weeks each year the fields are in bloom, it attracts photographers like me, artists, hikers, and birders.
Last week I made several visits out to the sunflower fields with two different photography http://www.meetup.com groups that I belong to. In previous years I have just gone by myself and I have gone late in the morning (10 a.m., but at least it wasn’t high noon, which as any photographer knows, harsh sunlight is a no-no). It was a very interesting experience to meetup with my fellow photographers and talk with them about their shooting styles and methods, and what equipment they use.
Here are some tips and tricks from my visits to these fields, as well as the pointers I learned from talking to the other photographers:
- Be sure to take bug spray, as there are bees and other bugs in those fields that you will be swatting at.
- Take a step ladder with you. This is so you can get the wide sweeping views of the fields. This was my first year of bringing along a ladder (I kept forgetting to take it along the last few years I’ve been), so I was able to get the sweeping views of the fields I had heard so much about. I not only got the wide sweeping views of the fields, but interesting perspectives of the flowers as well.
- As I mentioned earlier people mainly go there to photograph the sunflowers, but the flowers are not the only subjects you can take pictures of. For instance, in a past year I have gotten a macro shot of bee on a flower. This year, a member of one of the meetup groups wanted to take pictures of birds, such as goldfinches, so she was using an app on her smartphone to attract the birds. Further, I saw another person taking pictures of a spider web. Additionally, while there one day, I had the opportunity to take a picture of a dog.
- Lastly, I did a little Facebook Live (I had been wanting to do one for a while, as I love technology and trying new things, so I figured this was a great time to try my hand at doing one). Anyway, I interviewed one my fellow meetup members and his advice was to practice, practice, and practice. Just keep going out there and shooting. Find what you like and hone in on that and keep trying new things. In terms of macro photography, the key is to make sure everything is in sharp focus.