Poppy Fields, Leamington Spa, 2021

The Leamington Spa poppy field sprung up in June 2021.  At the time I was just so happy that the field was near to home.  I remember going to the field one barmy summer’s evening to take photographs.  The light was beautiful and the field was so colourful with the poppies swaying in the gentle breeze.  I stayed there late into the evening well after sunset taking many pictures.  I wrote a blog about my time there.  One of my pictures was of several poppies standing proud against the colourful sky.  One picture from that evening at Leamington Spa became a slow burner.  I had two requests from charitable organisations wishing to use the picture to advertise their remembrance day activities.   In 2023, I decided to enter the International Garden Photographer of the Year (IGPOTY) award.  Many of my poppy field photographs were appropriate for the Wildflower Landscapes category.  I entered pictures from my visits to Worcestershire last year and with one entry to complete, I selected the Leamington Spa poppy field picture.  I was surprised and pleased that this was the picture that was shortlisted.  Then I was more pleased that the picture was highly commended in the final judging. This slow burner of a picture had done well and is now included in my slowly increasing portfolio of competition successes.

Well done to the winners and all the other entrants. This link opens up the Wildflower landscape awards section of the competition.

Reflections on my success.  

I can remember taking this picture and the composition was different to my normal views of wildflowers. I had deliberately taken a low down viewpoint and used an onboard flash to pick out the flowers. Initially I was unsure of the picture and almost disowned the view. However, common sense prevailed and I posted the picture on my blog and social media accounts.  I was taken aback that I had requests from different charitable organisations that wished to use the picture in promoting remembrance day events.  When the time came to enter IGPOTY, I chose to add this picture to my portfolio.  Even though the picture was taken two years ago, I thought it may catch the eye of the judges. The picture received a highly commendation award and I received many good wishes from friends about the picture.  What can I say about providing advice about your photographic work.  Never give up on your work. Most of my pictures are taken for personal enjoyment. I also enjoy the feedback from family and friends who enjoy seeing my pictures. Also remember that what you may think is not ideal may strongly resonate with other people.  Finally think differently. By all means take the pictures that look like they are from a postcard but they do not necessarily win competitions. Something quirky or a scene that has not been photographed before will generate interest. Such pictures are more difficult to find but if you keep looking you will find them!

This is my original post from the poppy field in Leamington Spa. A special evening.

Poppy Fields in Leamington Spa

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Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023

The alarm went at 3.30am and it was time to haul myself out of bed.  I was going on a journey of 50 minutes to a field in Bewdley, Worcestershire.  There were reports of poppies in the field near to Blackstone nature reserve.  Sunrise was at 4:54am so I needed to get there promptly.   I met up with an old friend and work colleague who I had not seen for several years.  He was there armed with his camera ready to take pictures.  The place was very quiet and the weather was on the chilly side. There was more cloud cover than my app “Clear Outside” was indicating. Will there be a good sunrise? Time to find out as we crossed the road and set off for the poppy field.

Social Media had left instructions of how to get to the field. This was from the Poppy and Flower finder Facebook page.

“Park at the (Blackstone) picnic site, walk across the road as there is no vehicular access. Follow the path to just under the old railway bridge and take the path on the right by the bridge and it’s there.”

The poppies were there in their glory and I spent the next two hours taking pictures in the field. The sunrise was fleeting although I was able to get a starburst as the rays broke through the treeline.

Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
Poppy panorama.
Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
Poppy landscape.

I took many pictures with one or two more memorable ones. Blue cornflowers added a blue dash to the red sea of poppies. There were some pops of white from cow parsley who were unsuccessfully trying to compete with the poppies.

Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
Red poppy, blue cornflower
Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
A dash of white in the red.

I was starting to get cold standing out in the field and the cloud cover had smothered the sunshine. It was time to say good byes to the field and to my friend and head home to process the pictures. The early start to the day was memorable and I hope you enjoy the pictures that I selected.

Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
Red on Green
Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
Poppy flowers
Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
Poppy flower ridge.

Postscript – I learnt on social media that the farmer was out on his tractor and mowed the field that evening. Presumably he was fed up with all the photographers and other sightseers. The action set social media into meltdown as people vented their frustrations as they realised that would not be able to experience the field. I am not here to judge the action of the farmer who owned the land, I was just pleased that I had seen the poppy field in its prime.

Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
The red sea.

I have been fortunate over the last few years to see several fields. In 2020, I visited the fields in Minworth, near Sutton Coldfield. The next year I was pleased that a poppy field turned up in Leamington Spa which was close to me. Last year, the field was in Churchill, Kidderminster and again was a beautiful summer experience. I have documented my poppy field travels below.

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Mural Leamington Spa

I just love taking pictures of street art around the West Midlands. As a companion piece to my photographic walk around Royal Leamington Spa, this is a detailed look at the street art around the Grand Union Canal area.  There are several wall murals that are worth highlighting and many are curated by the Brink Street Art group.  Each is interesting and whilst I know some of the artists, the vast majority I am unsure about.  I have put down the Instagram link to Brink Street Art Group if you wish to find out more about these images.  I will update the blog to give the recognition to the artist and their mural so please contact me. If you are visiting Leamington Spa, then they are worth a visit to see.

Leamington Street Art
Those eyes!
Mural Leamington Spa
The pen is mightier….
Mural Leamington Spa
Almost Neon light eyes
Mural Leamington Spa
Cheese, cat and a mouse. @JulesMuck
Mural Leamington Spa
Balancing
Mural Leamington Spa
Across the canal.
Mural Leamington Spa
A pair of eyes.
Mural Leamington Spa
Crow in the moonlight.
Mural Leamington Spa
The beauty of swans.
Mural Leamington Spa
Colourful street art by N4t4

If you liked this then take a look at the street art in these cities.
Birmingham – Digbeth Art and Hi-Vis festival 2021
Bristol – Clifton to Bedminster

Some of the artists featured Jules Muck, N4T4, (to be continued)


Poppy Fields, Leamington Spa, 2021

Poppy field season is upon us and after a very damp May, it is noticeable that many plants and flowers are delayed in making their appearance by around 2 to 3 weeks.  The recent bout of sunshine has had a dramatic effect on everything, stimulating the countryside into life.  It is lovely to see all the flowers in full bloom.  But back to poppies, each year one finds it increasingly difficult to find these elusive flowers.  Farmers appear reluctant to let their fields turn into a sea of red for fear of the unwelcome attraction it brings.  For photographers such red carpets are a heavenly delight designed by the supreme being to bring joy to anybody who loves taking a picture.  Keeping to the sides of the field and not trampling the delicate flowers into the ground is part of our photographic code.  We too are horrified by the poor regard some members of the public have for poppy fields which in turn make it difficult for others. Therefore if visiting such places then respect the countryside.

Poppy Field
A carpet of red

I got the call (via Facebook) from my Photo Buddy, John Bray, informing me that a Poppy Field had been sighted just north of Leamington Spa.  It had already been announced on the local Facebook pages.  The field is not that accessible being surrounded on two sides by a country road that is better described as speed test track for the locals.  The partially hidden gate leads into the field which has a gentle westerly elevation.  Taking care not to trample more vegetation than is absolutely necessary, we slowly navigate ourselves to the top of the field taking pictures along the way.  We arrived at the field at 7.30pm and then by 8.45pm we had filled up our photocards with red poppies.  There will be some serious editing of the numbers of pictures taken when I get back home. 

Poppy Field
Making sure to stay to the paths around the field

When you are in a poppy field there is the intense red of the flower petals and then there is the gentle swaying of the stems in the breeze.  It is most restful and soothing to gaze over the red rippling petals of the flowers.

Taking pictures of poppies is one of personal taste.  I like the distant telephoto shots where the flowers are compressed, and you are able to convey the carpet of red.  For many of the pictures. I placed my polariser filter on the lens so as to pick out the reds.  Also concentration is needed so that the horizon does not go wonky or there are any unnecessary distractions inadvertently included in the picture. 

Poppy Field
Some poppies are higher than others
Poppy Field
The Poppy Field set in the surrounding countryside

There was strong sunlight, so I was able to use it to my advantage to back light the stems of the poppies.  This makes for an attractive look and highlights the spikey hairs on the stems. 

Poppy Field
Back lit poppies

There is also the “kitchen sink factor” where I wish I had brought all my lenses including my wide angled lens.  I should also have brought my graduated filters.  What I did bring that still surprises me with its quality, is my Fujifilm x100v and of course I did have my iPhone.  But the workhorse of the evening was my Canon 5D mark IV with both 24-105mm and the 70-200mm lens.  And the all-important tripod.

Poppy Field
Captured in a mini world

I also brought my lens ball.  I never know when it is going to be a good picture when I use it.  I was happy with the result of this picture with the poppies even though it was hand held.

Poppy Field
Deep red poppy colour

Decision time!  Where is the best picture for that sunset view?  There is a hint that we may get a colourful sunset, so we had to find the ideal place.  This is where you get an adrenaline rush and we pushed to the back of the field.  There was dense overgrowth but luckily there was a path on the perimeter that allowed us to get a view of the sunset radiating over the field.  We were happy with the position of our cameras on for the photographs.  Taking pictures of the sunset can be tricky and without my graduated filter (mental note must remember to bring this in future trips), I took several bracketed shots with the intention of building up a HDR picture later.  As the light dropped it was possible to compensate for the exposure.

Poppy Field
Sunset clouds and poppies

Then the sunset came into its own and the sky turned a pinky red.  Remember earlier that I said that there is someone up there who enjoys seeing a good photograph.  Well he or she decided to turn on the light show, and it was very much appreciated.  I just retreated into a happy world of taking pictures.  Surfacing around 10 o’clock it was dark, and we had filled our cameras with enough poppy pictures for the evening.

Poppy Field
Beautiful sunset complimenting the poppies
Poppy Field
Yellows and reds of the sunset
Poppy Field
A yellow sky
Poppy Field
A line of red holding up the sunset

Walking back to the car I turned back for one last look and there was the crescent moon in the sky with the embers of the sunset still illuminating the red poppies.  I reflected positively on the evening and John said it had been “A perfect antidote to a crazy life”.

Thank you, Poppies.

Poppy Field
The moon over the poppy field

If you enjoyed reading about this poppy field then you may wish to read my previous blog on Poppy Fields and my other entries on the Cotswolds Lavender fields