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IN THE FIELD: Gotta Do What Ya Gotta Do

As photographers, we often brave inclement weather, or find ourselves in precarious positions, and even appear absurdly out of place…all in an effort to get “the shot.” We are of a different breed than most folks. Earlier this week, all three of these traits came into play when I was out shooting the blooming trees and wildflowers of spring.

This was not exactly an easy task considering the weather we have been having. The local weather forecasters have been predicting it would be sunny with a few clouds and breezy for nine days in a row. Well, they got the sunny part correct. The breezy part is an altogether different story.

When I think of breezy, I imagine tall grasses and wild flowers and the branches of trees gently swaying in the wind. What we have been experiencing in the part of the country where I live is more like gale force winds. The wildflowers that have grown tall enough to actually feel the effects of the wind are not gently swaying but are closer to horizontal in their stance. Limbs and small branches from trees are beginning to succumb to the force of the wind and are dropping to the ground. For better than a week now it has felt like a huge storm was about to unleash its fury.

In order to get this photo, I parked my Jeep in a fallow field next to a busy road. As I walked into the field, I was leaning against the wind at close to a 45 degree angle. I set the camera to continuous auto focus, adjusted the aperture and shutter speed to help stop the motion of the flowers and proceeded to lie down among the wildflowers. I composed the shot so the sun was at my back with the blue sky in the background. Then I had to wait for the wind to slow from a steady 40 mph, to gusts of about 20 mph. I fired off quite a few shots while trying to keep the flowers in the viewfinder. I have no doubt our blogger friend Steve [Portraits Of Wildflowers] has experienced these same conditions.

As a side note, these flowers bloom this time every year, but I have no idea what they are. I haven’t been able to identify them from books or online sources. Any ideas?

  1. April 11, 2012 at 9:35 am

    seems to me they are “spartium junceum” if I am right… We have here too and they are so many in the fields, and I love them… Thank you dear David, I enjoyed reading your post and watching your beautiful shot. Have a nice day, with my love, nia

    • April 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      I still have not found out what they are, but they are everywhere in fallow fields and alongside roads. It’s nice to see splashes of color while driving.

  2. April 11, 2012 at 9:43 am

    You are a braver photographer than I am! I’m a big chicken when it comes to certain types of weather. 🙂 Nice shot!

    • April 11, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      Thanks Teri, Most weather doesn’t bother me…except for lightning. I stay indoors to watch that. It wasn’t too bad out there…iIt was warm but super windy!!!

  3. April 11, 2012 at 9:51 am

    This is great, David! The yellow flowers against the blue color of the sky is a very pleasant combination. And I like how I can see the movement of the flowers on your photo.

    • April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks Gracie, I liked how the flowers looked against the sky also. I must have looked pretty silly out there in the wind moving back and forth trying to keep the flowers in the viewfinder.

  4. April 11, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Breezy conditions are where I get lost in the moment – watching the rhythm of the moving plant, and being ready to capture when it settles. It looks very much like Oilseed Rape (canola) to me. The fields surrounding where I live are filling up with the bright yellow colours of said crop.

    • April 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      Ding Ding Ding we may have a winner here! After looking online, it sure does look like rapeseed. I will continue the quest and see if one of the local farmers know. I would bet they would. I love to watch the waves in grain fields when it is windy.

  5. Jo Woolf
    April 11, 2012 at 11:27 am

    A beautiful and very uplifting image, which was very welcome today! A lovely combination of colours. We’ve tried to photograph plants in these conditions too, and we know how hard it is. Your suffering was rewarded though!

    • April 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      Thanks Jo, It was tough but honestly suffering is a bit strong of a description. Wind blown determined may be better. It literally blew me back to the Jeep. Then opening the door was a challenge!

  6. April 11, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Great photo, David. I have experienced what you described. I don’t do flowers now as much as I used to. Maybe because of the high winds that we have quite often. But I know what you mean, you just have to time the gusts, and hope. You done good, as we say here in west Texas. 🙂

    • April 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks Bob, it was a might breezy out there…ground level wasn’t much better. Folks driving by must have been thinking “what is that nut case doing?”

      • April 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm

        Yeah, I know. Been there, done that. 🙂

  7. April 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    A great shot for such windy conditions — and hats off to you for perseverance!

    • April 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks Mufidah, even with rope I don’t think I could have kept a hat on my head LOL!! You are right though…as I was driving by I saw a great composition with the sky as a background so I just had to turn around and go for it.

  8. April 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    For those type of windy conditions, what a great capture and detail! The colors are gorgeous too. Fantastic all the way around!

    • April 12, 2012 at 8:37 am

      Thank you Donna, when I saw the whole field covered in these flowers with the blue sky in the background I had to stop and give it a try!

  9. April 11, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    It came out well given the wind!

    • April 12, 2012 at 8:39 am

      Thanks Fergie, I heard later while driving home that the forecast was for sustained winds of 40+ mph! No wonder I was blown back to the Jeep!

  10. April 12, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Another fantastic photograph.. I love the yellow against the backdrop of the blue sky and cumulus clouds!!!

    • April 12, 2012 at 8:42 am

      Thanks MD, I almost didn’t stop at this spot thinking I would see more fields with the sky in the background on the way home. Nope…saw more fields but the background was trees. Glad I turned around and went back!

  11. April 13, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Your blogger friend Steve has indeed experienced the conditions you describe. Wind can be the enemy all right, especially in the world of macro photography, where movement is magnified. On a separate matter, I find that lying down, as you describe, can be a good way to get a novel perspective on things.

    I’m sorry I don’t recognize what the yellow wildflowers are; it seems that those upright pods would be a clue. Is there a local native plant society or biology department at a university that you could turn to?

  12. April 13, 2012 at 10:58 am

    I kinda figured that…the wind has been relentless for 12 days now. But when there is a will…there is a way. I can imagine the difficulty you have with a macro lens (I’m still budgeting for one).
    I’ll have to contact the local extension service to see if they can help identify the plant.

  13. Nandini
    April 17, 2012 at 5:14 am

    When I was clicking the fennel flowers, i too experienced the same. But patience did pat off in the end.

    Beautiful photo, David. Loved it! 🙂

    • April 17, 2012 at 8:29 am

      Yes it certainly does pay to be patient!!! These flowers are blooming everywhere…I need to find out what they are!

  14. April 17, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    They certainly look like rapeseed (canola). They spread like weeds and can be found nearly everywhere now. Bright yellow and a sickly oily smell. If you are near fields of this, it hits the back of your throat. Not the most pleasant smell in spring!!!!
    I think you have achieved a spectacular result considering the circumstances. Everything else from now on will be simple!!!!!

  15. April 18, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Thanks for the kudos Kate!!! I’m beginning to think it’s canola also. I think I will call the local extension office to see if they can verify this.

  16. April 19, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Hey folks…I did some more investigating and most folks I spoke with think this is mustard. I thought it was a bit early for this to be blooming but with the early spring we are experiencing…

  17. April 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Just by doin’ what you gotta do you gotta vivid shot!

    • April 21, 2012 at 10:35 am

      It was so windy that I didn’t get many shots where the plants were actually in the frame or they were so blurry I couldn’t post them!

      • April 21, 2012 at 10:36 am

        Hit post comment by mistake. Thanks for the compliment John!

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