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Photographing the Autumn Season CPD

Photographing the Autumn Season

This informal CPD article on Photographing the Autumn Season was provided by the London School of Photography, a world-leading training centre with the aim to provide high-quality education and training in photography.

It is almost impossible not to get inspired to photograph during the Autumn season. The richness of colours and textures can result in remarkable images and there are several approaches to consider, from macro photography to portraiture.

Why do leaves change colour in autumn?

Fewer sunlight hours and cooler temperatures reduce the need for chlorophyll in leaves in autumn. As the pigment breaks down, the xanthophylls and carotenes become more visible, producing a stunning array of yellow and red hues.

Colours affect us in many ways, both emotionally and physically. A colour wheel, based on red, yellow and blue, is traditional in the field of art. Sir Isaac Newton developed the first circular diagram of colours in 1666. Since then, scientists and artists have studied and designed numerous variations of this concept.

Combinations of colours can also create style and appeal. Warm colours (red, yellow, orange and brown tones) are predominant during Autumn and can spark a variety of emotions ranging from comfort and warmth to hostility and anger.

When similar colours (colours that are close to each other on the colour wheel) are captured together, they have a soothing effect. On the other hand, to get a dramatic, eye catching effect, you can combine colours that are opposite to each other on the colour wheel, for example, the orange leaves with the blue sky.

Early morning and late afternoon light, or photographing during the “golden hour”, will help to emphasise the warm tones as well as providing the right angle and direction to reveal textures.
Get close with a macro lens and explore the details of leaves, rust, tree barks, fungi, etc… Macro lenses are lenses that allow you to get physically close to your subjects. A standard lens would allow on average 50 cm but with a macro lens, you can be a few centimetres away and still get a sharp image.

A good tip to capture deep and saturated colours is slightly underexpose your photographs (light meter on minus). You can do that on Manual Mode of exposure of use the Exposure Compensation settings if you are shooting with a Priority mode (A/Av, S/Tv, P).

You can also play with the White Balance settings to warm up a scene. The CLOUDY and SHADE options are warm filters and can help when days are grey. If you have the K (or kelvin) adjustment option, play around with a few different temperatures to see what you get.

Shallow depth of field (small aperture f/number) can emphasise foreground interest subjects while deep depth of field (large aperture f/ number) can be used for wide angle landscape shots.

Why not choose a single tree and photograph it every week or so to create a time-lapse video of it from green to yellow to orange to red to no leaves?

Pumpkins, apples, oranges, nuts, cinnamon and other spices also make great Autumn motives.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from London School of Photography, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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