Sunday, July 15, 2012


Nothing says summer like a big yellow Sunflower against a blue sky with white puffy clouds!   After a week of rain, the skies were clear on Saturday morning and it was time for a short trip to find something to shoot.   I had heard about a sunflower field in Piney Flats Tennessee, which sounded like fun.  All I knew was the name of the road.   Turns out that road is pretty long and we had no idea where along this long winding road the field was.  We drove from one end to the other and saw no sunflowers.   We turned around and headed back not knowing if it was even still there.   After a few miles we saw it!  It was in a curve and up from the road a bit which made it hard to see coming our first direction.

The owner happened to be out when we got there and with a wave of his hand let us know it was OK to take some photos.  The flowers weren't in the best shape this day.  Maybe it was the hot dry spell we had through all of June, or maybe it was the torrential downpours we had a few days earlier.   Either way it was going to take a little walking around to find the best angles to get the flowers with an interesting background, good light, and no distracting elements in the photo.   It was close to mid-day, which is typically a bad time for taking photos outdoors.  I needed to take a practice shot to check out the lighting.   I walked up to the first good specimen I saw, quickly focused and took the practice shot.  No tripod, no worrying about the f-stop or shutter speed.  Just a quick shot.

After that I wandered around the field with my camera on the tripod (I almost always shoot on a tripod) composing shots with attention to details in each photo.   After a while I had 80 or so shots (every shot yields three images at different exposures) and we headed home for lunch. 

While the photos were still loading, I decided to see what I could do with that first practice shot.   Little did I know it would turn out the be my favorite of the day.  I liked the lighting, the composition and the depth of field.   After a few tweaks on the computer I had this sunflower image.

I worked on the others but I didn't like any of them as much as this first one.

Seems like there were some lessons here:
  • Don't make any assumptions about the quality and value of something (or someone) without taking a close look.  My assumptions may be completely wrong or keep me from seeing the real beauty.
  • The beauty in a photo has less to do with my skills and equipment and more to do with God's creation.   Not only did he create the flower, but he provided the conditions that highlighted the beauty of that creation.
  • The rules of photography, such as don't take photos outdoors at mid-day in bright sun, are not rules but guidelines.  I need to remember that.
I hope you enjoy this Summertime Sunflower.   I'm going to print it and have it available for purchase in the Star Trails Downtown Gallery in Kingsport around July 23rd.


  1. I love the photo, but I love the lesson even more. Thanks for both! Suzanne

  2. Richard - thanks for the post and especially for the life lessons at the end. We all need to take a closer look most of the time. Thanks!

  3. Beautiful shot Richard, love the contrasting colors in this, nice advise as well !!

  4. this is a very beautiful shot, sunflowers are very nice flowers.