Memphis Sunflowers – Don’t follow the crowd

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July in Memphis, Tennessee it is hot. It doesn’t ever seem to cool down. The days a long the sun rises early and sets late. The humidity is feels like it is 100%, but in actuality it is about 80%. So hot and humid in fact, my lens instantly has condensation on it after coming from the air conditioning at home and car into the outside. I think there is a lesson to learn there about keeping your camera in the environment you will be shooting in a bit ahead of the shoot, but that is a different story for a different time. I am ready to capture images of these Memphis Sunflowers.

Memphis has hundreds of acres public parks and space. There are a few area that are filled with Sunflowers that are there for the public to enjoy, taking pictures of, etc. Amateur and professional photographers are usually all over the fields taking portraits first thing in the morning and from 5 PM until there is no more light. All of these are planned and staged shots.

Capturing My Images

For me, I don’t like taking staged photographs of people. I want to capture real emotions, spirit, or action when I get images of people. But capturing wild life is completely different. With this in mind, I leave the people to follow a recipe for their pictures and I set off to go down the path less followed.

These fields have bees pollinating these flowers and they are hard at work going from flower to flower. If you are lucky enough, with a fast enough shutter speed you can capture these creatures at work. Here are a couple examples:

The busy bee at Shelby Farms
The bee is busy in this sunflower field. Happy go lucky guy!


Sunflower at Shelby Farms
Sunflower season in Memphis is a beautiful site. Gives this bee a job to do that he loves.

Unexpected Beauty

You also never know what you what other animals and wild life you will see, so be prepared with your camera out. This yellow finch was grabbing breakfast one morning, I’m just thankful I had the zoom lens to get him. He was probably 100′ away from me and as soon as someone approached him he flew off.

Breakfast bird
Yellow finch gets his breakfast on the Memphis sunflowers


Lastly, don’t focus so much on the details that you completely miss the big picture. Sometimes as the sun sets the clouds and fields come alive. If you are busy looking for the birds and bees you might miss something like this one:

Clouds over the sunflower field
Clouds over the Memphis sunflowers field in Shelby Farms, Memphis, Tn.

In short, don’t be afraid to experiment with your subjects. Try new things, new angles, keep an eye out for what will be unique and don’t take the same boring shot everyone else there is.

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