Traverse City Sunflowers Update

Lat year I wrote a post about some sunflower fields in the Traverse City, Michigan area. Well this is the Traverse City Sunflowers Update!

I went to that spot just last night to find that the field had been replaced with corn. Bad news right? Well not really. The land plots are rotated from corn one year to sunflowers the next. There are still sunflowers plots all over the area and I went on a mission to find how I could get close to them. During this pursuit I saw some signs for a Maple Bay Park and Recreation Area. It's a county ran park that just so happens to weave through some sunflower fields. The location is between Angel Rd. and Bates Rd. on the west side of US 31 N heading towards Elf Rapids. You will see a sign for the park but it's a bit weird because it looks like a driveway to an old farm house. You pull in and drive a couple hundred yards and soon you will find yourself at the edge of a sunflower field.

I took the gravel road to the end of the park and it seems there are some trails and whatnot. I didn't do any exploratory hiking because I was there for the flowers and the sun was setting fast. Maybe next time.

The sunflowers this time of year in Northern Michigan are still in decent shape. Some look pretty rough but they all have open blooms. I prefer sunset for these locations. I like the back lighting as opposed to the front lighting sunrise brings to the sunflower.

This post picture was taken during a sunset using a 70-200 IS @ f8. I shot this handheld while I played with the exposures in manual mode to make sure I didn't blow out the sky and also make sure the flowers weren't to dark. No filters needed for this particular shot.

HDR Photography

HDR Photography has an ongoing debate among the professionals. Photographers either love or hate HDR Photography. Those of you that don't have a clue what HDR is, it's the blending of multiple exposures into one photograph. This process usually takes place in a software program such as Photomatix or Photoshop. This isn't going to be a tutorial just an opinion on HDR. To learn more about HDR  check out the king of HDR Photography Trey Ratcliff.

The people that like HDR photography the most seem to be the average person that has no idea what HDR Photography is. The people that hate HDR the most is the photography purists that believe that it has no place in photography and believe its more a graphic art.

I myself don't really care one way or the other as long as the photograph looks good. This weeks post picture was taken handheld using the HDR technique. In a situation like this I would normally use my ND grad filters to darken the sky a bit so I could get the exposure I was looking for but in this case I was driving when I happened upon the scene. Instead of getting out my tripod, getting out my filters and making this a long drawn out ordeal (besides I was trying to get to a spot for sunset) I decided to use HDR.

You can see what I was faced with in terms of the back lighting and the bright sky with the dark foreground. Not very appealing

HDR photography is just another tool in the photographers toolbox. Whether you choose to use the HDR "tool" is up to you, but for me it's a tool I will always have in-case I need it.