Last week I attended a photography workshop aimed at preparing for the annual flowering of the sunflowers at the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area near Poolesville, Maryland. The sunflowers are planted for migratory birds but a byproduct of this effort is a beautiful field of yellow-gold flowers all coming into flower at once. It is not unusual to see 20 to 30 photographers out there at 6am waiting for the first touch of sunlight.
After attending the workshop I decided to join the other photographers in pursuit of the perfect image. I got up this morning at 4:45am and following the last hints of moonshine down the misty country roads to the field of sunflowers. Mine was the fifth car there this morning. I walked out in the field and took my spot next to a chosen row of sunflowers and mounted the camera on my ancient tripod. And then the fun begins as you experiment with various ways to view that which has been photographed by many people already. Before the sun comes up it takes a pretty long exposure to get the sunflowers but with a good camera it certainly can be done.
However the real objective is to take advantage of the first rays of sunlight on the flowers. I didn’t choose the ideal spot for that early light. There were trees blocking the sun but eventually I did get some sunlight, especially for some closeups.
All the while you can sense the great potential of this area for birdwatching as well. At one point a lovely Indigo Bunting landed on one of the sunflowers in view. Unfortunately my lens chose this point to develop condensation on the outside so I have this very impressionistic view of the Bunting, as though a sudden fog had descended onto the field. It’s definitely worth checking out as the seeds ripen in the future.