The industry that’s attracting photographers like bees to a flower

Yellow. It’s not a subtle colour. In nature, it’s fed to us in bite-size pieces in sourgrass flowers or afternoon sunshine.

However, fields upon fields of yellow are not an uncommon sight for someone travelling through the Great Southern region of Western Australia, thanks to the canola industry.

The industry is on the rise in Australia, valued at almost $3 billion, with the crop grown for its use as a cooking oil and in biofuels.

Canola cultivation may be an agricultural pursuit, but its spectacular, vibrant colour has made it somewhat of an attraction for tourists and photographers.

In the Great Southern, canola crops generally start to bloom in August.(Supplied: Nev Clarke)

Life imitates art

Albany-based landscape photographer Nev Clarke makes the most of the canola season when it comes to pass each year, and says it is the contrasting colours that make the photos so captivating.

“It’s got that beautiful yellow, bright yellow, which draws you in, and then there’s the contrast between the canola field and the sky,” he says.

Mr Clarke draws inspiration from European styles of landscape photography that highlight bold bursts of colour.

“Yellow is an amazing colour … it’s not a colour we usually wear or do much else with, but when you see it in a field, it’s beautiful,” he says.

“When you look at it, it’s almost an art piece.”

A yellow canola field against a bright blue sky with the sun shining.

Albany photographer, Nev Clarke says the contrast of the yellow flowers against a bright blue sky is what makes canola photography so popular.(Supplied: Nev Clarke)

Mr Clarke says the region is particularly good for passers-by who want to admire the canola fields, as there are many places along the road to pull over to take in the vista.

“There’s a couple of spots where they actually have the photo signs [where] you can pull up,” he says.

“I suppose we’re lucky here in the Great Southern [as] the farms are very close to the road.”

Look, don’t touch

Man in a yellow shirt with a big camera smiles for a seflie.

It’s rare for landscape photographer Nev Clarke to be the subject of his own photos.(Supplied: Nev Clarke)

And while the vivid yellow expanses may look inviting, Mr Clarke stresses the importance of not entering the paddocks.

“Make sure that you are respectful of someone else’s property and that you’re not actually trespassing or touching their canola.

“[Crops] can also get contamination from your shoes. When you look at what’s been happening in the news, diseases are coming into Australia for all different sorts of things.”

“I just think it’s [important to] respect someone else’s privacy and their income as well … it is their livelihood.”

Close-up of canola blooms with mountain outline in the background

Up close or from a distance, the bright canola blooms make for eye-catching photos.(Supplied: Nev Clarke)

When asked for tips on photography, Mr Clarke said the key to capturing the essence of a scene lies in creativity.

“It’s often very easy to stand there at eye-height, pull your phone out and take the photo, but I often [tell] people to try to look at things from a different angle,” he says.

“Maybe take it from low down to the ground, or … if you can stand on top of something and get a downward shot. Just using the light and being a little bit creative.

“There’s no such thing as bad art. It’s just if someone likes it or doesn’t like it.

Mr Clarke says that his passion for capturing landscapes is about much more than taking photos.

“To stand there and look at it, it’s beautiful … it’s good for your mental health to get out into the community and get out into the country as well.”

Close-up of a bee collecting nectar from a canola flower.

Much like the bees, photographers are drawn to the flowering canola fields.(Supplied: Nev Clarke)

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