Sunday, 8 July 2018

Robin Hood Hill (May 2018)

This year’s crop in the fields that surround Robin Hood Hill was oilseed rape. The vibrant yellows extended either side of Greaves Lane for a few short weeks in May: I say short weeks as I have noticed this year - mainly because I have paid more attention - how short the flowering time is for many plants. 

I think in the past I have mostly concentrated on the technical and artistic aspects of photography and only in the last few year have I started to investigate what I am actually looking at; and whilst it may not necessary for photographers to understand their subjects, I find that the photography process is enriched by the additional information. Whether this makes me a better photographer I am not sure, but I do enjoy it more - which, at the end of the day, is the aim of any pastime.

So, what have I discovered about oilseed rape? Firstly, I was surprised to find the plant in my wildflower book as a variety of wild turnip (1); the latin for turnip is 'rapum' which presumably why we call this crop ‘rape’. 

The wild turnip (Brassica rapa) and rape (Brassica napu) are members of the cabbage or mustard family. Oilseed rape starts life looking, unsurprisingly, like a cabbage with a very quick growth phase in spring (fully grown the plants stand about 1.5 to 1.8m tall). The flowers start to appear in late April with the mass of colour in mid-May. By June the flowers are gone and the seed crop matures until harvesting in July. Once the crop has been harvested the rapeseed is used to make vegetable oil and biodiesel. It is the third largest source of vegetable oil across the world (2) - and I will stop the description here as I am starting to quote facts from wiki and it is simpler to read it directly for anyone interested in the global production of oilseed rape!

As for the photographs from this visit to Robin Hood Hill, this is my favourite, taken from the fields above Grange Farm with Robin Hood Hill in the background:

In the same field I captured the following scenes:

This selection was taken on the path to Robin Hood Hill (including the return journey to the car) - I have photographed this path so many times but it has a wonderful snake-like shape which draws me in every time:

Then a selection from the fields below Robin Hood Hill and the path to Oxton - I particularly like the first image:

Lastly, a hot air balloon which flew very low across Greaves Lane. For a few moments I thought it might have a problem but it landed safely in a near by field which, judging by the vehicles attending, was its intended landing site:

(1) The Wildflowers of Britain and Northern Europe 4th Edition. Fitter, Fitter & Blamey


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