I’ve had a busy several days.
I was in Woodland, California (Yolo County – north of Sacramento) shooting at/for/with Muller Ranch.
Muller Ranch is HUGE and they grow lots of different things like cucumbers, peppers, olives, nuts …
Colin Muller and I had been working on my visit for awhile.
Everything was dependent on the crops … which are, of course, dependent on the weather and other variables.
When he contacted me and said, “Now!” I knew I only had a short window to work with.
So, last Sunday, I drove seven and a half hours up the Central Valley (the most boring drive on earth!) and arrived in the late afternoon.
After checking into my hotel, I decided I’d venture to the town of Dixon because I heard they also had sunflowers blooming.
Dixon was about a twenty minute drive from my hotel.
(I wasn’t scheduled to be at Muller Ranch until the following morning, Monday.)
I had visions of sunsets over sunflower fields, but the reality on Sunday evening was much different.
I found Dixon easily enough, but I got lost in an orchard in search of the sunflowers.
(Getting lost is my specialty. I have no sense of direction and GPS does not understand when you search for “sunflowers.”)
Eventually, I found some sunflower fields and they were beautiful.
Each individual flower seemed almost human-like with its own, very distinct, personality.
Sunflower in Dixon, CA
Once I was in the presence of sunflowers, I remembered something I learned as a child.
Sunflowers always turn their heads towards the sun.
That means, without a lot of photoshopping, it isn’t generally possible to catch the sun setting BEHIND their “faces.”
I mean, I did see some flowers that were a little slower to turn than others, but you aren’t going to see an entire field ignoring the sun.
Before I got many photos in Dixon, I had a mishap of epic proportions.
With my camera in hand, I walked toward the fields.
And, quite suddenly, I SANK waist deep into quicksand.
The speed, and the strength of the suction … it was scary.
I wasn’t sure I could get out and what if I sank forever?
Oh, and by the way, it turned out to be MANURE not quicksand.
My new (pretty expensive!) running shoes actually got sucked right off my feet – never to be seen again.
One sock went with them … the other, clung stubbornly to my left foot.
I had to fight my way out of the muddy, manure-filled, trench – and it was not easy!
I finally got to dry ground, my feet now filled with sharp stickers and painful burrs, and my body covered in filth.
(Yes, even my arm brace and my camera had manure on them … although, of course, I held the camera up high so it was never fully submerged.)
Right then an old red pickup truck stopped by with an old-man farmer in it.
He had a long white beard and he peered at The Spectacle I Had Become from his truck.
(It wasn’t his sunflower field; he was just passing by.)
He asked if I was okay.
He informed me “You should stay away from the trenches. They look dry on top, but as you found out they’re not. They’re very dangerous.”
I nodded, as I stood barefoot in a field of sharp stickers, while dripping mud and manure everywhere.
(If I had known it was a TRENCH, I wouldn’t have stood on it!)
Eventually, after staring at my Manure Self for awhile longer, he drove away.
Fortunately, I had a roll of paper towels in my car.
I scraped off as much filth from my body as I could.
Then I climbed in my car, drove 20 minutes back to my hotel, and humiliated myself walking through the lobby and back to my room.
This was as cleaned up as I could get with just paper towels and a bottle of water. Taken just before I hopped in the shower.
After my shower, and a change of clothes, I needed to buy shoes.
I had only brought one pair because I was only scheduled to shoot one day at the ranch.
I was in a bit of a panic about meeting Colin Muller in person for the first time the next day … with no shoes!!
I ended up driving to WalMart, and shopping for five dollar sneakers while barefoot.
(No one in WalMart even noticed I had no shoes on!!)
Things went much smoother for my scheduled shoot on Monday.
I’ll share some of those photos with you tomorrow, or on Monday at the latest.