Spring Colour at Ripple Mill, Kent

A selection of images taken in April 2022 of the yellow rapeseed fields that surround Ripple Mill; a Grade II listed smock mill in Ringwould, Kent.

When a friend and fellow landscape photographer alerted me that the fields that surround the windmill were full of rapeseed this year I was more than keen to plan a visit. Ripple Mill is a location I have often passed as it is situated next to a busy road and although I had shot it from afar, I think I was always waiting for a colourful crop to accompany the scene.

Superbly simple compositions like this became available by walking along the edge of the field by the road
The view in the other direction towards the coast just after sunrise on the first morning. Shot with the 300mm f4

The night before I made my first visit I looked at the local OS map and I was pleased to find the windmill was encompassed by public footpaths. This would make it a lot easier and more relaxing to find a suitable viewpoint in the morning without worrying if the farmer would spot me. To be honest though, in all the years I have been out photographing the countryside I can only think of a couple of occasions when I have been confronted by the landowner but still, I’d rather not have to bother with them at all.

Shooting through the rapeseed wide open with the 135mm f2
Long exposure on a windy evening to create some movement in the foreground. The sails had moved from their earlier position by this time..!

This first morning turned out to be very productive as I shot the majority of these images then. It was a very calm morning for one thing which was perfect for allowing sharp pictures of the rapeseed. Also, the sails were set in a very favourable position which allowed a range of compositions from throughout the surrounding fields. On my later trips, I was not so lucky but I guess it did allow for alternative compositions even if the new position of the sails was not ideal for the shot I had in mind.

Interesting lens effect- focussing on the windmill wide open with my 50mm lens creates an odd circular warping to the foreground
An alternative take: the distant windmill is still recognisable but it is not the main focal point now.

Later on in the morning with some classic scenes safely exposed I could experiment with some ‘creative’ type images. One technique I like to use when shooting masses of colour like this, be it with bluebells or poppies, is to shoot wide open with a longer lens. This can blur the out-of-focus areas completely, simplifying the scene and allowing me to experiment with how I portray the scene. For example in the shot above, I framed around the mill in the distance yet I focussed instead on the flowers in the foreground, rendering the usual focal point of the landscape barely recognisable.

A stunning scene on my travels around the windmill
Shallow depth of field shot creating a pleasing blur to the foreground flowers

After I made my way back to my starting point the morning was drawing to a close. I was very happy with my morning’s work yet I thought there was potential for a good sunset shot while the windmill sails were in this position so I came back that evening.

Sunset behind Ripple Mill – I was here for sunrise too..!

It may not be the greatest display of colour but it’ll have to do as on the subsequent evenings I came back to try and better this shot, the colour was worse plus the sails were in the wrong position anyway. So, it’ll have to do!

Thanks for getting this far. If it has helped you in any way please leave me a comment 🙂

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