Poppy art: Use your imagination!
I’m lucky to live in the south of The Netherlands close where Vincent van Gogh used to live and paint in a short period of his life (from December 1883 – 1885, Nuenen, Noord-Brabant, The Netherlands). At the start of June some farmers don’t mow their fields yet. This way you can find fields filled with wild flowers and especially the beautiful red poppies. It’s actually good for them as it attracts bees, which are needed to pollinate their harvest. Unfortunately this proces is often ignored at most places nowadays. Poppy art: Use your imagination!
Right time, right place
Poppies are delicate flowers and very weather dependable. In the early morning most flowers will be closed and start to open during sunrise (even on cloudy days). They need sun and rain like most plants. If there is too much sun and draught during the day most flowers will be gone at sunset. Better will be an overcast day if you like to have a daylong field filled with poppies. Rain will do them good even if it’s a lot. New flowers will come out and the period of flowering usually will be extended. The best time will be around the last week of May until the second week of June. Of course it’s location and weather depended.
Where to start?
Now you’ve found the right spot and if you’re lucky you will find yourself at a sea of red flowering poppies. It’s good to start with some wide-angle shots during (misty) sunrise if you have a nice sky along with it or even without the sky in the photo. Make advantage of gradual grey filters for a balanced exposure if needed. It’s also good to use a (short) tele lens to photograph the field. With a (short) tele lens you will compress the density in a photo meaning you will see less “space” between the flowers and the amount really stands out. I often use the Nikon 80-400 AF-S VRII F5.6 for this.
Go with the flow
Now you have this in your pocket you can begin to walk around the field and go with the flow. For example if there’s a lot of wind try long shutter speeds to create abstract painterly shots. With sunlight I prefer to shoot poppies in backlight. Every kind of weather has its possibilities and it’s the trick to find the unique and advantage out of it. Even grey weather can be inspiring. With the high key the unique you will achieve subtle contrast and detail against an overexposed grey (turns into white background) sky. Flowers, which stand out against the grey sky work, best most of the times in these circumstances.
Use your imagination and try different angles from each side, they don’t walk away ;). When you go real low and almost photograph from the ground up you will get a “bugs eye view”. Wide-angle lenses are good for this effect. An angle finder can be a useful tool in this situation. Don’t stop after 2 or 3 visits and try to go beyond the usual. Sometimes you will find surprises and other times you will have to observe and walk around. Insects, water drops, spider webs, bird’s can bring your Poppy “alive”. Also try to experiment with movement, double exposure, and under- and over exposure, flash, different lenses, etc.
Want to know more?
I can help you with this process if you like. Visit my website to discover the workshops and photo tours I host through the year. Visit: http://www.agfoto.nl
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