In the summer, there is a magical place located right outside of downtown Raleigh along the countryside. It's a secret 50 acre sunflower field and it is truly a showstopper. Actually, it's not that much of a secret anymore. Now it has become a pop-up tourist spot every July for locals here in North Carolina. It's a beautiful scene! With a place as gorgeous and radiant as this, it's no surprise it is gaining so much attention. I am glad people are coming from all over to see it because I think more people need to get outside and appreciate the awesomeness of nature. Plus it is a great place to take photos and make memories.
Aside from the eye candy the sunflowers provide, Raleigh harvests these sunflowers to create thousands of gallons of biodiesel, which is then processed into fuel to run tractors, trailers and farm equipment. The field is located at mile 25 on the Neuse River Greenway Trail and the drive to get there is pretty nice. I love the open grassy fields as you approach the area.
If you plan on visiting (which you definitely should), you need to go soon. Sunflowers don't stay perky and vibrant for long as they have a short life-span. I would definitely recommend dressing for really hot weather and wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Bring water and snacks too! It gets really hot out there in the field, especially if you are staying for a while and taking lots of pictures. The sun feels like it's beating down on you if you go in the late afternoon up to sunset.
This particular day I saw so much life. First I saw a cat resting in the shade beneath the sunflowers. She looked happy as can be and was extremely friendly. Some of the pictures of her make me laugh. I also saw a lot of cool bugs. The sunflower field and grass alongside of it were home to butterflies, grasshoppers, moths, katydids, stinkbugs, crickets, and so much more. It's a very biodiverse little field.
Equipment and tips: I shot with my 35mm prime lens, the 100mm macro lens, and the 18-140mm zoom lens. For all insect and bug shots I used an f-stop around 2.8 to get a creamy background and isolate the subject. I also made sure to use my lens hood for the bright afternoon sunlight shots so that I wouldn't have sun glare on any of my photos. If any photos seemed too overexposed, I brought down the 'highlights' some during the editing process in Lightroom to give it more of a natural look because shooting in bright daylight (around 12-4:00pm) can be challenging.