Sunflower Fields - A Photoblog
A Sunflower field is a fascinating place to visit, both for a photographer and a regular traveller. When you look at a sunflower, it would surely bring a smile on your face. But when you look at a blooming sunflower field, it is difficult to name what you feel. All we can say is our heart fluttered the moment we first laid our eyes on a sunflower field. In this article we take you on a visual journey of sunflowers fields and leave you with a quick guide on how to shoot sunflowers.
To start with, we were so captivated by the idea of visiting sunflower fields that we scoured the internet looking for information on when and where we can find Sunflower fields in India. We could not find much useful information but finally found one picture on Indiamike forum where someone posted a picture of a sunflower field taken between Hampi and Badami in Karnataka in the month of August. Based on this little glimmer of hope, we rented a bike from Hampi and set out on a trip to explore places around Hampi yearning to see sunflower fields on the way. Note that this was before Gundlupet near Mysore was even written about and named as flower pot of Karnataka. Little did we know about the jackpot we were going to hit.
Before we get into full fledged fields and some photography tips on shooting Sunflowers, lets understand what the Sunflower plant looks like. Over the years, there have been varieties of sunflowers developed around the world. The sunflower plant could be 10-15 feet high when full grown, though most flowers we encountered were 4-5 feet high. Most of the flower plants that you might be familiar with would be more elaborate, meaning they would have many flowers in one plant. Sunflower is a seed head plant meaning one plant has only one flower which is full of seeds. It does have a wild version which could have many flowers in one plant, as the name suggests. However, they are not too common and you would not come across a farm of wild sunflowers.
A small sunflower bud almost looks like a face with its eyes closed. The bud is smaller in size and has its petals all curled in while the plant grows in height. This is because the Sunflower has all its florets in the central area and needs protection before they are developed. At some point, usually when it has reached its maximum height, the petals slowly start peeling back and opening up. You may find some flowers which have their petals partially open. You would then start seeing how spectacular a Sunflower could be.
It can take 3-4 months for a Sunflower plant to fully bloom. But once it does, it surely looks so pretty. It feels like a face that had its eyes closed is now happy and smiling. The face is bright and all lit up. Once the petals have fully opened up, the central disk of florets continues to grow.
If you are interested in getting some tips of how to photograph Sunflowers, scroll down to end
If we go deeper and focus on this amazing pattern that the florets form, you will see a structure in the randomness. The objective of the flower is to have as many seeds as possible in the central area. Now how would it achieve this? It starts growing from the centre outwards, but what should be angle at which each seed grows so that it maximizes the number of seeds? Sounds like a mathematical problem? Well go on to read about Golden ratio, Golden angle, Fibonacci series and how a Sunflower uses these concepts here. Without making this article geeky, the only point of all of this is that nature has a way to make things beautiful which is scientific and mathematical. We perceive things as beautiful because they follow some scientific principles and mathematical rules. And a Sunflower is one of the many such beautiful things found in nature adhering to these concepts. If you are someone who feels lost in all the above logics, just see the below pictures to be hypnotised by nature's magical patterns.
Sunflowers are also known as composite flowers, because within the large flower head that you cannot miss, you might not realize hundreds of small florets. These florets contain pollens. The primary purpose of the lovely yellow petals is to attract bees and butterflies. These bees and butterflies are important for pollination.
After the sunflowers have been pollinated, seeds start forming underneath the florets. These are little heavier and as more seeds form, the flower finds it difficult to bear the weight. It then starts to droop and that is a sign of the sunflower ageing. The Sunflower seems to look sad and the leaves start drying up. The view of an entire sunflower field at this stage is quite heart aching. What remains is a drooping black head full of sunflower seeds. Thats when you know its time to harvest. You remove the head, pluck out the seeds, some seeds are used for processing oil or consumption while others are used to store and sow for next cycle. And thats how the life of Sunflower goes, something we realized was so similar to humans.
The most interesting thing about Sunflower is also something you may have already heard of - They are heliotropic plants - meaning the plants responds to sun's movements. However, this is seen mainly in younger days of the plant while the flower is still growing. Once the flower is fully open, it stops following the Sun and stays where it was, usually the east. What is incredible is what happens at night. Sunflower obviously detects direct sunlight and tracks it through the day heading from east to west. But it also has an internal clock (again similar to humans) which works with its ability to detect light. This internal clock helps it go from west to east during the night in anticipation of the next sunrise. Isn't that amazing?
This happens till they get old and stop moving. When they would get old, they continue facing the same direction through rest of their lives, usually east. Knowing how plants which are fixed, non-movable things show this movement is even more interesting. It turns out that the growth in stem is responsible for heliotropism. At night when the flower needs to move from west to east, it seems there is growth in only west side of the stem. This allows the flower to automatically tilt towards east. The opposite happens during the day. The plants know that Sun is extremely important for their growth and they want to take as much as possible. It almost feels like they are in love with Sun and keep chasing their love through their prime. And don't be surprised in case you come across a rebel who refuses to look in the direction where everyone else is looking. We all know fellows who choose to walk on a different path against the tide!
How to shoot Sunflowers
So now that you know enough about Sunflowers, you surely want to click good pictures of a sunflower field. Here is a quick photography guide that you can download which will help you shoot sunflower fields.
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Hope you enjoyed going through this photoblog and learnt a few things about Sunflowers and how to photograph them. Pin one of these images to mark this article for future reference. Feel free to drop in your comments below. Check out other photography blogs.