Sunflowers & Lupine

I have to admit, summer is not my favorite season for photography. For a lazy photographer like me who likes her sleep, I find the early sunrises and late sunsets challenging, as well as the harsh bright light in the middle of the day. But I love photographing sunflowers and lupine, and in Northern California, we get both! Sunflowers in Sacramento, and lupine on the shores of Lake Tahoe, both occurring in early to mid summer.


The image above was taken of a sunflower field in Davis, located at the corner of Pole Line and Road and East Covell Boulevard, in late June. I typically take bracketed photographs, blending three different exposures, dark to light, in Adobe Lightroom, but this was a single exposure shot of the setting sun over a field of sunflowers in Davis. I’m not sure why this photo came out better than any of the other 100 or so shots I took this particular evening; it could have been a split second of perfect light or the way the polarized filter was angled to catch the light, but I really loved the way the sun illuminated the back of the sunflower petals. Believe it or not, I actually needed to tone the saturation down!


I recently spent a fantastic weekend camping in Lake Tahoe in early July, and I had heard about the blankets of purple lupine on the shores of the north side of the lake near Tahoe City, so naturally I had to check it out. Despite the promising chance of a decent sunset from the interesting clouds, the sunset color turned out to be a bust. However, the purple lupine blanking the shoreline was vibrant and colorful, and it’s interesting to note that this lupine phenomenon only occurs in summer during years with low water levels!

I was also surprised to see hundreds of ladybugs on the lupine, so while I was waiting for the non-existent sunset color to appear, it gave me a diversion to photograph the gorgeous red ladybugs on the purple lupine with a shallow depth of field, using my telephoto at 100mm.

Sunflower and lupine are two photogenic flowers not to be missed, both providing a thick blanket of flowers for photographic opportunities! I saw many photographers in both of these locations shooting what were, undoubtedly, gorgeous portraits of couples, families, and children. If you’re into photographing flowers, these two locations in the summer are not to be missed!

My name is Beth Young, and I'm a licensed architect specializing in healthcare facilities, with a strong passion for capturing the beauty of the natural world through photography. Please feel free to browse or comment. If you wish, prints are available using long lasting and high quality photographic paper or museum quality canvas using archival inks at my website:

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