Every year at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, Maryland – just outside of Potomac on River Road – the people at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources plant sunflowers on some of the 5 acres in the area to attract game birds. Rows upon rows of tall green stems with giant yellow flowers on top, as tall as 6 feet! I heard of these fields for the first time this year when another D.C. photographer was asking about the blooming season. This was back in April or May, so I’ve been patiently waiting for the flowers to peak, which is usually mid-July. The best field, this year, in my opinion was the first one you encounter heading west on River Road.
Sunflowers are called “tournesols” in French because they are known to turn with the sun. So I was a bit surprised to see that this particular variety planted in McKee-Beshers fields were very lazy sunflowers and stayed put, making it a challenge to light up the seed disc in the center while offsetting the brighter backlighting from the early evening sun. Good thing I brought a reflector to help a bit, in addition to some post-processing assistance. If these flowers are, indeed, not turning, then unfortunately it looks like mornings would be the best time for a shoot. Regardless, it was still amazing to walk down the rows of giant flowers and be swallowed by their beauty. I would imagine that they still will be blooming next weekend, since the website says peak blooms last two weeks, so you should check them out if the weather is nice. Allergic to bees? They are everywhere, though I don’t think they are the stinging kind. I came away with a nice allergic reaction to something or other on my arm, but it was mild and went away after a good scrubbing, so maybe it was something that was sprayed on the flowers or the little hairs on the stems?
Make sure to bring all your fun photography equipment you can carry – lenses (macro, wide-angle, telephoto, fisheye, etc.), reflector, polarizer, small ladder for a different viewpoint, etc.!! If you don’t have those, I also took some great shots with my iPhone! Or don’t take any shots at all and just enjoy the experience.