When I was a kid I clearly remember my mom saying “Good morning sunshine!” to me and my siblings, particularly on school mornings when we would wander upstairs bleary-eyed and wishing we could go back to bed for just a few more minutes of sleep. That phrase has always stuck with me over the years and, come to think of it, I need to start saying it to my own two boys. Who knows…maybe they will remember it when they’re older too :)
On my bike ride home from work near the end of July I passed a couple sunflowers at the base of a hill near a retirement home, and made a mental note to return to the same spot the following morning in order to get a couple shots of the flowers as the sun was rising. It was kind of the same idea as last week’s photo, but this time it was entirely intentional and I clearly knew in advance where I wanted to go, what I wanted to photograph, and how I wanted the composition to look. Sort of. And I’ll get to that in a second.
First, for a bit of context, here’s the scene:
Not much to look at, right? I think that’s why I biked past this little grove so many times without really noticing anything. But if photography is taught me anything over the years, it’s that I really do need to slow down, look harder, and really see the picture opportunities right before my eyes. So that’s what I tried to do, and when I came back this way the very next morning I had a clear idea of what I wanted to capture, where the light would be coming from, what elements I wanted to use in the composition, etc.
I spent a few minutes wading through the tall grass taking pictures of the flower on the far right from a variety of angles, and I was specifically trying to get a picture with the flower on the left and the sky poking out through the trees in the background. Here’s my favorites from the shoot, as seen in my Lightroom library.
I eventually settled on #6 (you can see dim gray numbers behind the thumbnails) because I liked how the discrete elements of the composition came together to form a cohesive whole: the sky in the top-right corner, the bright yellow flower in the middle, and the green leaves behind it which created a nice sense of contrast as well. Originally I thought #5 was my image of choice but the more I looked at it the more I realized that the streak of blue sky blended in a bit too much with the yellow petals, whereas #6 created a much stronger composition and the green background really served to highlight the subject.
It was a fun exercise in finding a picture opportunity that was dulled just a bit when I got back on my bike and found my shorts and legs covered in hundreds of small little burs from the grass. I spent the rest of the day picking them off but it was a small price to pay for a picture I really liked :)