Friday, October 1, 2010

Accomplishing a mission

So, of you photographers out there, who ever gets a great idea for a shoot or subject matter, and when you go to shoot it, things never seem to measure up?

-That's my case far too often.

Anyhow, here's a quick story about how one such mission of mine actually came out really close to what I had hoped for, and finding out about a good cause at the same time:

I wanted a picture like this:

I had this idea from seeing part of a European bike race in which whatever network it was on had a camera van riding parallel to the peloton (say that 10 times fast) as the 70 or so riders moved by a field of sunflowers which must have been easily 5 square miles, as you could see it span into the hills.

My wife and I started a very sporadic search for anything even remotely close to this in New England. After learning (about a month later) that sunflowers have a very short lifespan for their blossoms, we re-focused our search during July, when we were expecting the flowers to actually be in season. We eventually stumbled upon "Buttonwood Farm" in CT, which ran the annual Sunflowers for Wishes program. A private farm in which the owners plant massive, several-acre fields of sunflowers to attract visitors and tourists to their already well-trafficked dairy farm (ice cream!) operation. The proceeds from tours, sunflower sales etc, are donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which I am sure you're all aware of.

We were in luck. The peak (just one) week for the flowers was ending that very weekend. We immediately planned to head down on what was to be the very hot/humid Saturday morning.

The drive was about 2 hours in 100% blue skies and increasingly warm sunshine. We arrived about 11:00 am or so, and I knew the trip was worth it. I was about 1/4 of a mile from where I took the above photo, when I first insisted we pull over after about 10 seconds of driving by one of their largest blooming fields.

The majority of the day was spent exploring the various fields, shooting different angles, and just strolling with my wife as we joked about how much I would start sweating when I tried to hold still for a photo (it was that hot).

You may have noted by now "Dan, you said you drove down in blue skies, your picture has a lot of clouds in it."

Yes. Yes well, I'm getting to that.

After cooling off not nearly to a satisfactory level from the unfortunately-messy ice cream break, we began to make our way back down the road towards the car to call it a wrap. I noticed a woman who was perched on the small bluff of grass next to the stone wall separating the field from the road. She was painting the view in front of her in acrylics, it looked great. After much debate about possibly disturbing her I eventually worked up the ask my wife to ask her if I could take a photo of her painting the field...
She immediately told (Andrea) that it would be no problem, and I happily started snapping away.

That's when we heard the 1st heard the thunder.

If you look just above the tree-line, and below the clouds you can actually see the rain coming down in that photo. It reminded me a bit of watching distance rainstorms when you've summited any reasonably sized mountain.

After informing the very disappointed artist "But I was just about to start painting the actual petals!", of the impending storm (she didn't hear the thunder) , I quickly walked along the stone fence and took several frames of the scene you see before you now. With the clear blue skies, the sun washed everything out. Now, with the diffusion of partly cloudy skies, the field was perfectly lit for what I needed.

Overall it was very satisfying to take in the views and actually get some nice photos out of it. I'm very glad we made the journey. Plus we made a bit of a donation by purchasing a bunch of cut sunflowers. (They lasted about a day. :|

Oh, and I took this during our ice cream pit stop; it makes me feel far away...something about it.

See you next time.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, the cloud patterns made it more dramatic anyway. (You're turning into Mike with your stories, minus the descriptions of mammalian innerds (etc.)
    And I LOVE the picture(!) but you already knew that.