Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What's All the Buzz About

What's all the buzz about? Bees and lots of them! When you are standing in the middle of a large field of sunflowers there are bees everywhere. In fact, I now understand where they came up with the term "Busy as a Bee".

My latest photo shoot was in the middle of a huge field of sunflowers. Among the many challenges of shooting these beautiful sunflowers is the slightly unnerving constant buzzing of bees. Once you realize that the bees are busy polinating and not interested in stinging photographers it is easy to focus on the task at hand. The other challenges related to shooting sunflowers are the sheer size of the plants (most over seven feet tall) causes them to move with the wind and pose some composition challenges with getting a good angle/perspective. Lastly, the darker center of the flowers tend to make it difficult to get natural looking exposures.

On this particular day the lighting was very strong and back-lit with brilliant blue skies. Certainly a striking composition if you can get the proper exposure. To help even out the exposure I used my built-in flash to provide a little fill lighting which helped illuminate the center of the flower while still including the wonderful back-lighting of the petals.

It was quite a sensation being literally surrounded by big sunflowers, of which most were over my head. While I was taking some larger overall views from my car, I noticed a deer that started jumping up in the adjacent wheat field, so I shifted my focus to this beautiful whitetail doe. I ended up pursuing this deer to see if I could get a better photo opportunity. As I was walking along the edge of this field I also noticed a lot of monarch butterflies and a few small birds. Lucky for me the deer did make another appearance and this time I was ready!

While I was standing in a pocket surrounded by sunflowers on three sides I heard this very loud humming and I thought it surely must be a monstrous bee! I turned around to see this hummingbird looking at me and hovering less than two feet away. It just seemed very curious and looked me over pretty good before continuing on its way. It was actually too close for my lens to focus and therefore I didn't get the picture. However, I was fortunate enough to capture another curious bird that posed nicely while sitting upon a sunflower. What a treat for the senses both visually and audibly. Nothing like connecting with nature in the middle of a field of sunflowers!

Specifics on this shoot:

Camera - Canon EOS 20D Digital SLR
Lens - 100-400 f4-f5.6 Image Stabilized Lens
Tripod - (None used) all images were hand-held
Flash - Built-in flash was used for fill lighting
ISO - 100-200 (Sunflowers)
ISO - 400 (Deer)
Exposures - varied from f5.6 to f16 depending on the focal length and desired depth of field.
Shutter speed - 1/125 - 1/500 S. The action shots of the whitetail deer was shot at 400 ISO, at f7.1 and shutter speeds of 1/1000.

Click here to view my Sunflower Gallery

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic work Jake! Thanks for all of the great tips. I just love those sunflowers and the great action shot of the deer! Great combination of writing and photography...I felt like I was there. Great work, keep at it! - Erin Kaiser