For the last several years, one of my favorite things to do in the summer is visit the sunflowers at Mckees Beshers in Poolesville. I start stalking their website usually at the end of spring to find out when they will be blooming. I have been going almost every year since 2011.
In that time, I have taken a ton of photographs of sunflowers. It is well over 1000. Until recently I still hadn't finished going through all of them, I took way too many. For me, it's not just about getting that special photograph, it's about the experience as well, which is something that you can only understand by being there. If you haven't ever visited, please go.
There are a lot of variables photographing sunflowers, a lot I am still learning but there is a lot involved, here is my list:
Time of Day
When is everyone else going?
I will start with time of Day, it makes a big difference in your photograph, this one was taken at 1:00 pm using a Polarizer filter:
I was actually going for bright skies, shadows and sun. By using a Polarizer Filter I was able to capture this and not the blow out over saturated colors that previously had my camera screaming "what are you doing?"
In this picture it was taken right at sunrise:
I think sunrise is now my favorite time to go but it does have it's draw backs. You don't know if your going to get clouds, or what kind of sunrise and also things are very wet. Depending on your equipment and the way you dress, this might not be the most pleasing. The morning in this photograph I had to do a lot of work to keep my equipment dry, not fall in the mud BUT watching the sunflowers wake up with the sun was quite an amazing experience. They all turned to greet the sun. That is not new information but when you are surrounded by them and watch it happen, it's quite amazing. The other amazing thing was my husband and I were the only ones there at this time. This was the morning after a huge storm and people were just finding out they were blooming, but getting up at 4 am, hiking through the woods in the dark and watching this unfold, I keep repeating myself but it was quite amazing!
This one was taken at sunset:
While it's beautiful to see the sunset going down behind all of these flowers and I do enjoy it, so do a lot of other people. If you want to capture the sunset arrive early and stay late and watch the show.
The first time I really photographed at McKee Bashers I found out about it a little too late and arrived after full bloom. I put it on my calendar so I wouldn't miss it the following year. The following year I took off work to make sure I wouldn't miss it. The problem was when I arrived it was raining and a storm was approaching. I chose not to leave, I'm glad I did.
Here is the result:
I call this print, Rainy Sunflowers. My kitchen was done around all of the colors in this photograph and is currently still hanging in my kitchen. I have sold several prints of it and it also won Audience Choice Award 2016 at the Carroll County Arts Council. It was amazing to see the sunflowers in full bloom for the first time and along with the stormy skies. I'm so happy I was able to save this moment in time.
Here is another picture taken almost at the same spot, different angle, different day and year and 5 camera's later:
Here is another with the approaching storm:
For me, this is probably the biggest event of summer. If you haven't experienced it please take a weekend and go see them. Wear long pants, appropriate shoes, take water, and also bug spray. There are a lot of bugs and a lot of bees, but the bees mostly leave you alone if you leave them alone.
Another important thing to remember is if you go early in the morning, and actually anytime, there is a lot of wild life. Please be respectful and be safe. I did hit a deer this year on my way to photograph during sunrise...the deer actually hit me and I was going slow since I knew they were there but she still found me. They are everywhere especially that time of the morning.
Click below for a slide of just some of my many sunflower prints from this year and the past several years! All sunflower prints on my website and also on Etsy are on sale through the end of August. Use code Sunflowers2017 for 20% off on check out!