Every year there are several sunflower fields planted at McKee-Besher Wildlife Management Area, in Poolesville, MD. The reached peak bloom on July 13 and should be at peak for the next two weeks. So every year photographers and everyone else travels to the area to see around 48 acres of sunflowers. Since I have been hearing about these field for the past couple years, I decided it was time to go and see them for myself. So I got up around 6:30 AM to make the hour drive over to Maryland to see the sunflowers.
It was pretty easy to find the first set of fields because the parking lot was full, and there were lots of people loading and unloading camera, tri-pods and ladders. They use the ladders to be able to shoot down onto the fields, though the sunflowers are only about 3 – 5 feet tall depending on the field. I passed up this first area and headed further down River Road to Sycamore Landing Road where the other field was located. I parked at the parking area then walked down the road to the field. I’m very glad I had the super strong bug spray (99% DEET) and my hiking boots because there were a lot of bugs and it was very muddy. The sunflowers in this area were around 3 – 4 feet tall. There were also several bumble bees, which basically ignored me. When I was done in this area I drove back to the first parking area, which cleared out, along River Road to do a little shooting there.
For this photo shoot I used both my 18 – 200 mm lens, 60mm macro lens and a graduated neutral density filter with me. I did also pack tri-pod and ladder both of which I did not use. The neutral density filter worked great on the sky. I could meter off the sunflowers without blowing out the sky, thus keeping it nice and blue. I was shooting at an ISO 200, with an f8 –f16, and a shutter speed around 1/150s depending on the light. I ended up 71 shots that I liked. Overall it was a very productive morning. You can see the photos here McKee-Besher Sunflower Gallery.
As a side-note I would love to shoot in the area again, but with a model dressed in Civil War era sundress or maybe something more creative.