Sunflower Starburst!

Location: Woodland, CA
Time: Sunset
EXIF: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV| Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 II USM | 17mm | f/22 | 1/60s | ISO 100

Another one of those things that I didn’t even know existed until I got into Landscape Photography. The Sunflower fields in Yolo County. Field filled with Sunflowers is truly a beautiful sight. I didn’t know that these fields were just about 2 hours from home. Sometime last year, a discussion started in the Photography group about heading to Dixon to find these Sunflower fields. Unfortunately, the timing didn’t quite workout. We couldn’t go and when we could, Sunflowers weren’t blooming.

Over the course of last few weeks, photos of beautiful Sunflower fields started popping up on various social media sites. We knew that the timing was right and we had just a few weeks before the Sunflowers disappeared. A plan started brewing and the date was set for the weekend. Initially, the plan was to shoot Sunrise at the Sunflower fields. The more I thought about it, Sunrise didn’t make sense at all. I checked weather forecast and
neither Saturday nor Sunday had good prediction for Sunrise.

 In order to shoot Sunrise, we’d have to leave in the wee hours of the morning and we’d probably be only able to hit one or two spots. Moreover, trying to find a good comp in an unknown location is next to impossible. None of us have been to the Sunflower fields so it was going to be a shot in the dark, literally. So, I made my case and everyone agreed that we’ll go for Sunset on Sunday.

 We went to one of my friends place to park our cars and go in one car. We got to the first location with plenty of time left for Sunset. We knew the light at that time was pretty harsh and we aren’t gonna get any keepers but we wanted to try different comps to see what’ll work.

While we were experimenting with different comps, one of our friends decided to fly his drone. He got the drone several months back but hasn’t flown it much. He still wasn’t comfortable with flying it. It took a while for him to get the drone off the ground. Once it was up, he realized that his camera wasn’t working. He fixed that and took it to air again. Once in the air, everything seemed to be find until wind became a factor. He wasn’t able to quite control it and the drone went crashing to one of the trees and then to the floor. It was funny and scary at the same time 🙂

We spent about 45 minutes in the first couple of locations. We didn’t think either of the locations would be ideal for Sunset. We then stopped at a barn and totally trespassed to get a few shots. I was so scared of getting shot but we came out unscathed. More on the barn location in another post.

From the barn location, we went hunting for this one location that another Photographer told us about. This Photographer got an amazing shot with Sunflowers in the foreground, a lone tree in the background, and amazing colorful sky in the background. We knew the clouds or colors won’t be there but we wanted to find that lone tree.

After driving for about 45 minutes, we realized that we have been looking for the wrong thing. We were looking for a lone tree in the middle of the Sunflower field. We didn’t find one. We did find several trees including lone trees on the side of the road, next to the Sunflower field. We found one Sunflower field with a nice tree on the side of the road.

We were tired of driving around so we decided to just stop here for Sunset. Sun was going down pretty fast anyway. We setup our tripods for the first time and started experimenting with different comps. Everyone tried to get a starburst with Sun behind the tree. With my 16-35 lens, I knew that I’d get a crisp Sunstar. It was just a matter of finding a good comp.

For this particular shot, I shot a bit wide and then cropped to get this comp. I not only cropped but had to remove a bunch of stuff in Photoshop. Well, when I say I removed a bunch of stuff, it was actually Sowmya 🙂 She has lot more patience than I will ever have. She did a great job of removing a bunch of stuff that no one even knew was there.

I wish I had clouds and colors that day. This same shot would have been significantly different if there were clouds that lit up that day. Oh well! There’s always next year. I heard that the Sunflowers are already done this year.


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