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

Poppy fields, Kidderminster, June 2022

When you first behold a poppy field, immediately the intense red colour catches the eye. You stop and take in the beautiful scene. Such poppy fields are rare and also transient. Similar to the bluebell season, their intense red colours grace the landscape for a couple of weeks and then they are gone. I have been fortunate to see two poppy fields in successive years. The first was in Minworth, which is now a housing estate. Last year a poppy field sprung up in Leamington Spa which was close to home. Both fields were beautiful in their own individual way.

Poppy fields, Kidderminster, June 2022
Poppies on the landscape
Poppy fields, Kidderminster, June 2022
Catching the sun’s rays

This year I wondered if I would be lucky to see a poppy field. The changing nature of the landscape with increased density of house building means that many fields are being lost. As June began, there were several reports of poppy fields on social media but all were a long car journey away. Then reports of poppy fields began to surface in Worcestershire. After careful searching on the Internet, combined with advice from a friend who lived in the area, I decided to get up early and check out a poppy sunrise. Setting off early I arrived near Kidderminster at 4.30am. I chased the low lying Strawberry full moon along the Motorway. The disappearing moon looked magnificent in the morning sky. I arrived at what I thought was the poppy field site and disappointingly there were only clumps of poppies. Deciding to stay, I made the best of a poor display and concentrated on the individual poppies. After an hour, I decided to call it a day and head home.

Poppy fields, Kidderminster, June 2022
A panoramic view

As I got into the car, I thought to myself surely there must be a field of poppies around here. Social media does not lie or does it? On a spur of the moment decision, I turned down the next lane off the main road. I drove for about half a mile and thought this is stupid as there is nothing here to see. As soon as I thought this, I looked to my left and saw a beautiful sea of red poppies. It was 5.45am, sunrise had gone but there was still lovely light. I lost an hour of my life just taking pictures around the field. The landscape favoured the photographer and I satisfied my desire for taking lots of photographs of poppies. I am not convinced I took the best photographs but I did enjoy myself. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Poppy fields, Kidderminster, June 2022
Tracks in the field
Poppy fields, Kidderminster, June 2022
A view of the field used by BBC Weather Watchers
Poppy fields, Kidderminster, June 2022
A close up of the poppies
Poppy fields, Kidderminster, June 2022
The strawberry moon over the poppies

In 2020, the year of the pandemic there was Minworth, Sutton Coldfield
In 2021, there was a poppy field in Leamington Spa.
My friend John Bray made a moving piece on the poppy fields for the BBC that is well worth a view.

Poppy fields, Kidderminster, June 2022
The Poppy fields at Churchill, near Kidderminster.

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

For the last few years I have viewed pictures of poppy fields with a mixture of fascination and some jealousy.  I always wished that I could take some pictures of these lovely wild flowers.  Many of these fields seem to be around the Worcester and Hereford area of the West Midlands.  It would mean a long travel and a very early start or a late return.  I should be more dedicated!  Browsing Instagram, I saw a friend and colleague post pictures from a poppy field in Sutton Coldfield.  So we arranged to meet one evening and as the weather is so perfect this month, it turned out to be a most beautiful evening as well.  

A road of poppies
Picture taken by Dr Anthony Cox

Anthony and I met up at Minworth near Sutton Coldfield.  The field was beautiful.  The poppies had created a carpet of red over the whole field.  Several people has gathered in the field including photographers.  We stayed around till 9pm as the light started to fade.  It was exciting to see the colours and the light playing on the poppies and their stalks.  I was tired and getting the post out was not until the following morning.  I got some very nice feedback from the pictures and the whole project was very satisfying.  So I have ticked off a major photographic project on my bucket list.  The poppies have been photographed!!!!

Setting sun
Poppies lit up by the sun
Leaning towards the sun
A drone view of the poppies
Almost gone
Two photographers Damien and Anthony

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