Giant Sunflowers Invade Denver International Airport

Ok perhaps a little dramatic for a title to a blog, but it's nonetheless true and hopefully I'll get some Google juice going for that title! So how do giant sunflowers invade Denver International Airport? Every August, around Denver International Airport (DIA) there are huge fields that utilize crop rotation just like every farmer does nowadays. Each year the fields move around, but are in the same basic locations. The sunflowers found in these fields can grow past 6 feet tall and feature heads much bigger than dinner plates (Helianthus giganteus). 

I have been going out to the sunflower fields east of Denver since my first summer on the Front Range back in 2011, and every year there is a new challenge. Sometimes the lighting is absolutely epic, but you waited too long and all the sunflowers are drooping. I have seen perfect fields but smoke from wildfires essentially blocking out the sun and make for a brown featureless sky. 

Last summer, my good friend Chase Shipley and I headed out after work to photograph the fields on what looked like it was going to be a stunning sunset. When we arrived, there were already a who's who of photographers out there, Rick Louie, Colby Brown, and more had already set up shop. One great element of these fields is that they are so big that everyone can photograph them, and still find different angles and perspectives. 

Earlier that week I had rented the new Canon 16-35mm f/4L IS and boy I was I thankful that I had rented that excellent lens. It was wide enough to capture all of the beautiful sunflowers and still had plenty of sky to compose the gorgeous sunset. Chase and I ended up being out there for about 2 hours, patiently waiting and sharing the stoke of witnessing the beauty of God. 

This photo easily become one of my favorites from 2014, and is one of my most favorite images I have ever taken. I manually blended two exposures in Photoshop CC, and finished editing with Nik Color Efex Pro and Lightroom.