Forgotten Summer Fields
This is a terrible time of the year to be a sports fan- basketball season is over, football hasn’t started yet, baseball is in the dog days of summer, golf is, well…golf and hockey (Wait, did hockey have a season this year? Are they still playing? Did anyone notice?) is just too tedious to pay attention to. Professional hockey is like taking your sister to the prom- who cares?
Same can be said for photographing in July. the wonderful springtime rush from the first wildflowers is past as is the fresh greening of the farms and forests. Birds have finished migrating and settled down to nesting duties, mammals are also having babies but they are look bedraggled and moth-eaten now, the skies in most of the country are either hazy from summer smog or summer humidity (or summer smoke from wildfires!) and the national parks are jammed with summer tourists, anxious animals and frustrated photographers. So what is an outside photographer to do?
Well, you can head to the high country of the Rockies, Sierras or Cascades and look there. The skies are generally clearer, the locations, once you get off the beaten track, are generally less crowded and because of the altitude the summer season is just beginning with its wonderful burst of activity. I’m heading for Colorado as I write this with plans to hike up through the aspens to treelike to catch the first alpine wildflowers and the clear mountain vistas.
If you can’t come with me, I suggest you take a closer look around you at the things that you normally pass off or pass by as photographically uninspiring. If you live on or near a coast, go visit a working harbor. If you live in a city go visit an outdoor market or junkyard. If you live in the midwest or deep south go, anywhere, just go! Or if you live near a field, a wild or close to wild field, go there. An overgrown, deserted lot will do as well, as will a neglected garden or ravaged woodlot.
Fields are one of the most overlooked habitats for photographers. Fields are places we walk through to get to where we are going or look past to see what is pretty beyond. but there is much to see in a field or any abandoned area. July is the time when field wildflowers (what gardeners call weeds) come into their own. This is especially true in prairie country where July and August are the peak flowering times of the year. Everywhere else though fields and those overlooked weeds are also beckoning and worth exploring.
The gallery I have included below was mostly shot this morning on the edge of my lawn where the mower is kept out and the wonder is allowed to blossom. The nice thing about most field flowers is that they are usually pretty tall so you don’t have to get into some back-twisting position to photograph them. This is also the time of year when juvenile insects like grasshoppers and beetles are very abundant and make for easy subjects. In August the spiders become increasingly more common and spider webs, bejeweled with dew are there for the taking.
If you want to take pictures of butterflies and crickets and spiders go out first thing in the morning when it is cool. Because they are cold-blooded insects are still when it is cool and when they are covered in dew they have to wait to dry out before they can move. the best way to find these magical subjects is to get on your hands and knees and start crawling around through the weeds and high grass. You will get some very odd looks from your neighbors (not that odd looks are anything unusual for you) but you will also get some great photos.
So don’t give up your photography for the summer, go out and explore the nearby passed by whatever it might be. I think you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.