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Photographing Rapeseed fields

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Category: Flowers and Plants

Oilseed rape fields - Rapeseed fields are popping up all over the country so go and make the most of the bright colours.

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Unless you're a hay fever sufferer who avoids oilseed rapefields like the plague, make the most of the bright yellow and green colours and head to one for some springtime photography. The vibrant yellow fields are common in many parts of the country and you can't really miss them as you drive around. Now is a good time to shoot them, as many fields still have a mix of green and yellow hues.

Rapeseed photography

A wide-angle lens such as a 10-22mm is perfect for sweeping shots of the field but if you don't own one, there is plenty you can do with your telezoom instead. You just need to stand a little further back for wider shots or use the compressing effect of the longer lens to isolate areas of colour.

The telezoom's also handy if the field you are photographing doesn't have public access as you'll be able to shoot from the side of the road with it. If there's a breeze blowing a tripod will help reduce camera shake. A tripod also means you can shoot at slow shutter speeds too and you can get some lovely blur effects.

To get your horizon straight you either need a really good eye or something to help you measure it. Some cameras have in-built levelling systems but if yours doesn't you can get a spirit levels that sits on the camera's hotshoe. Take a look at Hama's or Manfrotto's models if you don't already own one. Seculine's Digital Action Level, £29.99 from Warehouse Express is a neat and innovative approach of getting your camera perfectly level. Click here for more details of this gadget.

If you want to use a tripod you can find in-built spirit levels on many models such as those from Velbon, Manfrotto, Slik and Giottos.

You can't just march into a rapeseed field and start taking photographs as we'll have some very unhappy farmers if you do! Check to see if there's any public walkways going around the field and if there isn't, stand on a nearby road or path and use your telezoom to bring the field to you. Just respect the fact that the crop is being grown for commercial reasons.

Now, we'd all like to control the weather but unfortunately, as we've all learnt, it's something that we just can't do. So, if there's a gale blowing or even just a slight light breeze, unless you want a mass of blurred yellow in your shot you have to stand and wait for the wind to stop. Or use slow shutter speeds creatively and go for some lovely blur.

You don't want rapeseed fields to look like one giant swathe of yellowness  and that is the risk of gloriously bright days. If you want harsh yellows against a harsh blue sky, fine but the effect is very garish and not very pretty. To enhance the contrast even further and go for slabs of total colour, fit a polarizing filter.

Cloudy bright days are more conducive to this form of photography and the plants will have more definition and won't just look they've merged together. Blue sky contrasts well against yellow and dark, stormy skies also work and you can get plenty of them this time of year.

Sunrises and sunsets can also work well and the lower warmer light can look wonderful and can tame the vibrant yellows of the rapeseed. A neutral density graduate filter can help control a bright sky.

Make sure your horizons straight and if there are tracks left by tractors use a wide-angle lens and let them guide the viewer into the image. Try using gates, trees and hedges as leads and frames too. A small lens aperture will give ample depth-of-field to ensure total front to back sharpness.

Rapeseed fields are also a perfect subjects for a drag landscape but if you didn't try the technique while out in the field don't worry as today we're showing you how to replicate the look in Photoshop.

You've read the article, now go take some fantastic images. You can then upload the pictures, plus any advice and suggestions you have into the dedicated Photo Month forum for everyone at ePHOTOzine to enjoy.

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