This time of year, I am always on the lookout for poppies. Handfuls of poppies that sprout up along roadsides are relatively common but finding fields full of poppies can be rather challenging.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to stumble across a field containing poppies just outside of Avebury but every year since, it has failed to yield any more. I had presumed that if a field contained poppies one year then you could expect them to appear again the following year but it seems as though poppies require the ground to have been recently disturbed in order to bloom.
This year, a friend had posted a photograph on social media of a local poppy field and I was really rather excited for the chance to get some more images! So, after finding out exactly where the field was, we decided to head over to capture some photographs during that evenings "golden hour". We lucked out with a brilliant blue sky just as the sun was starting to set. Here are a few of my top tips (and favourite images) to get the most out of photographing poppies.
1) Shoot from below
You can easily get a little overwhelmed if you are lucky enough to find a field full of poppies. I personally like the effect that you can get by getting down low and shooting up at 45 degrees. That way you can isolate the flowers - if you have a blue sky then all the better!
2) Use a wide angle lens.
If you do find lots of poppies in one place, try and use a wide angle lens (e.g. <24mm) to show the landscape in its entirety. To make the most of the image you may want to try and find an additional focus. Although I am not a huge fan of pylons, in this instance it has acted as a handy focal point to help impart scale and add a little extra interest.
3) Reduce distractions
Shooting from up high (this shot was taken by holding the camera above my head!) I angled my camera down so that I filled the field of view with just poppies. My aim was to avoid capturing the brick houses on the horizon which would have distracted from this stunning view.
4) Shoot into the sun
As I previously mentioned, these photos were taken during the golden hour, approximately 1 hour before the sun was due to set. My aim was to capture images backlit by the sun. Not only does this result in a high-contrast image, the setting sun also highlights the red petals and provides a halo effect around the stems and flower heads. I think its rather beautiful!
5) Use a wide aperture
Personally, I love a shallow depth of field! Using a wide aperture such as f2.8 I was able to focus on one plane and throw the rest of the flowers out of focus.
6) Find an interesting subject
Of course, the poppy flowers themselves are beautiful but I find it rather difficult to get a good photo of a single bloom. The poppies are very delicate and individually they can look a little worse for wear! Instead, look out for small clumps of flowers or choose to focus on the seed heads.
Do you have any top tips for photographing poppies? Please share them below. If you have tried out a few of these techniques then I would love to see the results.