Autumn – a photographer’s favourite season?

Landscapes bursting with colour, the crispness of a cool breeze, and the warm hues during those shorter days; any of these could be reason why so many photographers favour autumn.

Although autumn does mark the approach of winter, the season reaps so many rewards. Here’s just a handful of reasons why you should get out and about with your camera this season.

Colour

The leaves changing from green to rich reds, yellows and oranges is one of the defining spectacles of autumn.

A DSLR camera sitting on a bed of autumn leaves.Leaves shed their green colour due to a chemical change which happens as a result of the waning sunlight. The green pigments of the leaf are broken down, revealing other colours such as reds and yellows. This is a gradual transition so there is plenty on offer for you and your camera.

These explosions of colour are visually stunning when captured as a blanket over a particular landscape, for example, or even capturing details at a much more macro level.

Fallen leaves can also encourage a renewed perspective of a location that is quite familiar; thus, it is not always necessary to go on epic excursions in order to get a great shot. Local parks, town centres – even your own back garden – can be an ideal place to scope out colourful seasonal elements.

As well as making these the focus of your photographs, using leaves and overhanging trees can also be an excellent way to frame your shots using the natural surroundings.

Light

Although days are much shorter at this time of year, the light levels during autumn are apposite for photography: lighting is the key to capturing the vibrancy on offer this time of year.

Indeed, this is not only applicable to autumnal conditions but, in fact, any time of year. Photographers should take advantage of the ‘golden hour’ all year round because of its rewarding qualities.

In the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset, the sun is at its lowest point in the sky. Sunlight travels through a greater depth of atmosphere when the sun is nearer the horizon, thereby reducing the ratio between direct and indirect sunlight.

During these times, more blue light is scattered and the presence of the sun means that the light appears warmer and redder in hue. The sun’s positioning also makes for some longer shadows.

These conditions dramatically transform a landscape – making the vibrant autumnal colours pop.

Weather

Serendipity can have a great impact on the craft of photography but shooting during the golden hour is really worth it. This is especially true in autumn, though, because even with harsher weather conditions – bringing rain, frost and sometimes snow – favourable lighting levels can create some electrifying compositions.

Shards of light can help to illuminate a wet landscape, drawing out glistening foliage and dormant puddles. Focusing on the autumnal colours in the reflections of the water can also offer a more dynamic perspective of certain scenes.

Foggy days can also be a blessing for photographers as the light is more forgiving during more hours of the day.

Fog and mist can also help with colour separation: the bright oranges and reds of the leaves can offer an intense contrast to the dullness and flatness of a grey day.

Time-lapse

Time-lapse photography is an incredible medium for tracking change, regardless of the time of year.

We have touched on before how photographers have cleverly applied the technique to capture autumn changes in various parts of the world.

Capturing movement over time, time-lapse photography is another way to bring out the best that this season has to offer. The shifting patterns of light in this video by Gabriele Prato (below), for example, are made more discernible with time-lapse.

 

The natural elements of the mountains can be seen coming to life, further enhancing the fascinating and picturesque qualities boasted by such a landscape.

 

So, if you can, get outside with your camera this season. Whether using still photography, or applying time-lapse to your approach, you can discover why autumn is a photographer’s favourite season.

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