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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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.

For the first time since mid March, I am back on campus and it was a lovely morning. There were very few people around and I had brought my camera along. The Campus looked beautiful and the lack of cars certainly allowed unhindered views of the buildings. I did like the area where the wild flowers were near to the University gates. This series of pictures of the University shows it off and makes it look glorious.

Wild flowers and Old Joe
Wild flowers and Old Joe
Lovely light on campus
Lovely light on campus
View of the Green Heart
View of the Green Heart
Old Joe in the morning sunshine
Old Joe in the morning sunshine