#507. Canola capers

By Paul Perton | Travel Photography

Aug 26
Cold, windy and wet - farmland near Philadelphia

Cold, windy and wet – farmland near Philadelphia


Behind the scenes at DearSusan, the work goes on tirelessly. The e-mails buzz back and forth, occasionally delivering a co-operative effort worthy of publication. This is one such. It sped across the Interwebs between myself in Cape Town, Bob Harrison in Glasgow, Pascal in Provence and Philippe, who I guess was in Paris, where he lives and works.


FYI, I’ve edited out some slightly robust language (mine as usual), deleted some irrelevances and generally tidied up the syntax to make it readable. Come, peek behind the “Boerewors Curtain”*.





I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised; I took off yesterday morning with the good folks from the Cape of Storms Facebook group for a farmland shoot – principally to grab the brilliant yellow of our ripening canola fields.


If you remember last week’s e-mail conversation, I said that I was full of good intention; packing my several Fujis for an upcoming trip, only to discover a Leica in my hands? Well it happened again. It was 9C, cold, raw and drizzling out near Philadelphia (ours, not the US version). My excuse for the Leica was that I was determined to grab some shots that put a new slant on the usual canola story.


I shouldn’t have bothered. The wind made focussing both 35 Summicron and 25 Biogon difficult – the crop was swaying magically, but made good focus really hard. In the end, I decided to get smart and zone focus what I was doing; set the lens at f11, wound the infinity focus mark around to to the appropriate DoF indicator and then reckoned I had enough DoF to play with and backed off the range from infinity to 10m-15m.


Farm near Philadelphia

Farm near Philadelphia


Epic fail. Not one shot in 50 or so is sharp. They weren’t great anyway – canola has been done to death around here and I had made absolutely no inroads on a new approach.


Double epic fail. I started processing this image and spend at least ten minutes cursing Lightroom for being so slow in making a new sharp preview JPG. Several minutes and a blue fit of cursing, I eventually worked out that the fault was mine and they were just not in focus.


After that, I gave up 🙁


Canola near Philadelphia

Canola near Philadelphia


Road side grass in the wind

Road side grass in the wind



That’s one of the focusing problems of rangefinders, the other being when the delicate mechanism gets out of tolerance, which happens all too easily and, unless you know what you’re doing, necessitates a trip (for the camera) back to the Fatherland.


With digital, which is so intolerant compared to film, even the slightest mis-focus is terminal. With digital, the DOF scales, even, for some reason, on modern, digital age lenses, are stuck in the film era and, consequently, completely out and unusable for the same reason as above – focus is largely either pretty much there or not with digital and the degree of latitude one had with film simply does not exist.



Ah … A walk with General Frustration and Major Pain. If it’s any consolation, that’s a very lovely pic you sent us. Reminds me of Charlie Waites years ago. Very inspirational. WA was full of canola too last month.


Fun story behind this. We had to return a small camper van and were late and still hours out of Perth. So I was belting down the road at speeds that defied good sense and gravity and terrifying sidewinds and my sleeping wife. I was holding the wheel with my left thigh while quickly grabbing the shot with a prefocused 35mm, at armslength through the barely see through windscreen (soooo many dead bugs and crickets on there). It looks all quiet and peaceful but I felt like the chopper pilots in Vietnam war films at the time. What a very short shutter speed can do, hey?


Pascal's Aussie canola contribution

Pascal’s Aussie canola contribution


Still not very sharp though, focus was somewhere on the road. I’ll give it a better crop and see what it’s like then.


Aah well. We live and don’t learn.



Yeah, sounds like we’ve all been there.


This one worked quite well though – taken before my ludicrous attempt as zone focussing. And no, I have no idea what the sign means (it’s a National Roads Agency sign, so could mean the distance between here and the nearest hamburger joint for all I know).


Snap – got a roadside pic too


Canola and national road sign near Philadelphia

Canola and national road sign near Philadelphia



Sounds like the date of a mighty battle to me. 13th day of the 64th month, 1101. Messed-up calendars that had in those days.


Very nice pic. Like good custard, for lack of a better description. I’d pour a ton in my plate and have it without cake.





Egads! The Brits already had GPS coordinates in those days!!!! No wonder they ruled the waves (and waived the rules).



…and messengers with forked sticks. We led the world in communications technology you know.


Canola ready for harvest near Philadelphia

Canola ready for harvest near Philadelphia



Oh stop it you lot. I’m supposed to be working.


Here’s my yellow pano, then. On the road, you can see the numerous traces of Australian Outback’s favourite pastime: hooning. On some occasions, these traces snake-on for hundreds of yards, demonstrating an impressive talent for drifting. On others, they end up in road-side ditches, demonstrating a real talent for drinking.


Pascal's canola offering

Pascal’s canola offering



No pics from me, as I don’t even know what “canola” is/are. Until now I assumed it was the Italian “cannoli” , such as the ones that old lady Corleone made, laced with poison, to finally settle the score with her nemesis, don Altobello.





Sorry to hear this is not correct. Until now, ’twas fun… 🙂


Some things never change - no loaded guns beyond this point

Some things never change – no loaded guns beyond this point


* A throwback to the country’s less than savoury history, where one sector of the population was protected by privilege and custom, as in the USSR’s Iron Curtain. We couldn’t afford such militaristic expenditure, so we settled for food and culture instead.


Boerewors (farmer’s sausage) is South Africa’s national sausage. It’s eaten fresh off the braai (barbecue), hot, redolent with fat, slightly crisp and a bit charred at the ends. Like the country, it’s a big flavour, made from beef and pork and when made to excess, can be dried into long sticks to transform it into droewors (dried sausage), ideal for Pascal’s “Are we there yet?” style long journeys, hikes, or essential eating while watching rugby.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Why are there so many gum trees in South Africa?

    At least the barbed wire was tack sharp, Paul – ROTFLMAHO

    As for Australia’s favorite pastime[s], we won’t go there Pascal – your probably not old enough to be told such things.

    • paulperton says:

      I’m not on firm ground here Pete, but I do know that a huge amount of fodder was imported from Oz by the Brits during the Boer War. That bought all manner of other crap with it, including the blackjack, a weed with a million seeds that hook themselves on to pretty much anything, spreading the bloody weed any and everywhere. Maybe eucalyptus seeds were in with that?

      More likely, was that the gums were planted to provide strong, straight, cheap timber for the mining industry. Wood is still used for support and props and making support packs, so at least we found a use for it.

  • Joyce Farherlander Xabarsky says:

    OK, photography sucks royally here, we all know that; but the whole world was actually and eagerly anticipating an update on the whereabouts of kecks since weyall learnt the new word as part of our digital essentials from the world’s top photography masters that you bunch undoubtedly are, and where the F* is it?

    • paulperton says:

      According to my Glaswegian source, kecks are underpants although the Urban Dictionary has a slightly different definition: . Hardly matters, I was just making a point 😉

      Oh yes – “the world’s top photography masters;” praise indeed, but I think you’ve got the wrong site.

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