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Swaying Poppies

Close to home
On the 13th of June I managed to travel over to a poppy field close to Wall Heath today to capture a glorious Poppy field before it was damaged by the rain. I have passed this field a number of times but have waited until they looked their best and the weather looked favourable.

The field is about 20minutes drive from home so it was easy to plan my trip to coincide with the ideal conditions.

Tourist attraction?
I parked up and set about getting the kit out of the boot. There are stories going around that the farmer, needing to ‘rest’ his crop field for the year, has planted the wild flowers. If he has, he has (possibly unwittingly) created his very own tourist attraction! There is a steady stream of families and couples walking around the field and taking photographs.

Set up
I waited until most had left and the sun started to go down before setting up for my attempt at capturing this field of colour. I set the Nikon D3 up on my Manfrotto 055B Pro tripod and connected my remote shutter release. My Nikkor 16-35 f4 VR was in place to capture the broad expanse of colour.

I metered the poppy field and sky in turn using the spot metering facility in camera to see the exposure latitude of the frame. The image would need to be balanced with my Lee Neutral density filters. With the horizon being a clean line I had no trouble using the ‘hard’ grade filters.

I chose my usual settings, mirror lock up, aperture priority, evaluative metering at the camera’s native ISO setting. I then minutely adjusted the composition using my Manfrotto 410 geared head until I was happy with the frame in my view finder.

I chose my Lee Filter and slotted it into the filter holder slot. Checked the viewfinder for accurate positioning. Re-checked all camera settings and took a test exposure.

The exposure was good with no blown highlights on the histogram and plenty of detail in the shadows - I don’t use the LCD to look at the image for exposure, instead I trust the histogram. With sunlight making the LCD sometimes difficult to see properly you can easily be fooled by the LCD image. I tend to expose to capture the most highlight detail so I can process the file knowing I have the most detail captured…..known as “exposing to the right”.

I was not satisfied with the image on screen. I wanted some movement in the poppies so I decided to fit my B&W Circular Polariser to extend the exposure further. This would have the added benefit of saturating the colours as the sun was coming into the frame from the left hand side of shot. Polarisers are most effective when placed at 90deg to the sun.

That’s better! Waiting for some evening breeze before tripping the remote shutter, I have managed to capture the foreground poppies swaying in the wind. A quick check of the histogram and that’s the shot.

Whilst there I take a number of images including some shots isolating the poppies but I already have my interpretation of this field safely on my compact flash card.

You can see the final image in a larger size by clicking the thumbnail image below:-

Swaying Poppies

Stiperstones Dawn
Heart of England Landscape Photography....