Ill be honest. Fields of bright yellow canola get me excited. I dont know why but I am overly impressed by the sheer vastness and saturation of colour. I could drive around for days searching for it.

My area of choice is the Goldfields region of Victoria. An area bounded by Ballarat and Creswick all the way to Castlemaine to the east. Exact areas I have shot will be featured in another article soon. This area is reasonably local to me, has lots of variation and canola seems to pop up in different areas each year. There are many areas out towards Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula also.

Canola field photography

Whilst I will detail more precise locations in another article, I suggest spending some time driving around as the crops differ each year.

September is the time to go in Victoria and I would say that there is about a 3 week period each year. Fields bloom at slightly different rates, so you might be late for one field, but in time for another. Keep driving and searching! For general bloom status I would recommend using Google to see news reports, or even call a local shop to the area. Locals are always excited and never tire of the sight of huge swathes of yellow. There is also the excitement of a changing of season after a grey winter.

Canola field photography


The obvious choice for canola photography is bright blue skies and fluffy clouds. The sun brings out the glow for the yellow, but also for the green fields surrounding.

I have however found even stormy weather can make for a great shot. In the picture below, the sun was peeking thru the clouds giving wonderful highlights of yellow. A dull cloudy day is undesirable if its bright colour you are after. Makes those days reconnaissance ones!

Canola field photography
Canola field photography

Canon 5DsR 16-35mm F/4L IS USM 1/60sec at F14 ISO 500
This was not a great day to shoot canola. However as per my tips above, you can still get pleasing shots. This was a beautiful wide expanse that a 16mm does a great job of capturing. There was enough sunlight to highlight the canola and I love contrast with the storm clouds above.

Wind is a big factor when photographing large areas of details such as canola. It is imperative that there is no wind at all. Just the slightest wind can create a motion blur that essentially ruins your photo. If you own a camera such as a 5DsR with the excellent uber sharp 16-35mm F4, then blur will be very visible. Below is a crop into a photo exhibiting this. Always use a high enough shutter speed, aperture around F11+, a tripod/still hand, and of course, well selected focus points that can get front to rear focus.

Canola field photography


The Goldfields area of Victoria is famous for its volcanic heritage and there are many picture perfect rolling hills. Classic Windows PC backdrop type imagery! Its easy to find fantastic composition even from the roadside. There are plenty of farm buildings and windmills also that can add some nice detail.

If you choose to use some zoom bear in mind that its very hard to get front to rear sharpness in your image, and this is always exaggerated with a subject such as plants. One solution is to try and get as high as possible. I am often found standing on the back of my car, or on a gate, so that my image isn’t as flat in perspective. With a wide angle lens, angled from up high, you can really pick up the large expanse of flowers.

Canola field photography

With the changing of the seasons many other flowers come into bloom at the same time. One trip I came across this fabulous field of wildflowers.

Canola field photography

Canon 5DsR 16-35mm F/4L IS USM 1/640sec at F10 ISO 640
I climbed a small fence to get the perspective required. I placed the orange flower at the rule of thirds both vertically and horizontally. I was sure to make sure of a sharp shot with the amount of detail in this image.


High quality DSLRs such as the Canon 5DsR, combined with L series lenses gives you the best chance of capturing the immense detail that fields of flowers. My favourite lens of the moment is the Canon 16-35mm F4. When used well it is exhibits a level of sharpness I have not seen in any other combination of camera or lens. Of course with canola and sunshine a polarizer will enhance your images significantly. If you can find a composition that is 90 degrees to the sun then you will be in polarizer heaven. Just be careful to not overdo the effect and watch for dark spots in the sky.

Tripods are great to use. Not from a shutter speed point of view, but from a composition thinking mindset. Tripods always help you to slow down and really compose a scene. Slowing down sometimes is really speeding up things quality wise!

No canola article from me can leave out my parents. They are often my guides and have scoped areas out before I arrive. The pic below shows my father Geoff. He is an avid Leica camera fan and it has become a yearly ritual searching for new canola fields. Here he is photographing me photographing canola. As you do.

Canola field photography