"Make the most of what I think is the best time of year. Enjoy the colours, the bonfires, the pumpkin patches and the early frosts. Winter is just around the corner."
Jeremy Walker shares his top tips for shooting Autumn:
Watch the weather forecast, religiously. You are not just looking for sunny days but also cold days. As the first frosty days of autumn bite the leaves will start to turn their various golden and fiery hues. Be prepared.
Before you even think about venturing out doors prepare yourself for the autumnal conditions. Dress appropriately for the time of year and use extra layers of clothing for warmth and make sure you have a hat, gloves and water proofs with you. Thermal wellies or good walking boots will be a must.A water proof picnic blanket will also be really useful for low angle shots and will help stop you getting wet and muddy.
Get your camera kit ready for the autumn. Make sure the camera battery is fully charged the night before and carry a spare if you have one in a pocket close to your body to keep it warm. The cold and damp autumnal weather will shorten battery life especially if you review your images on the camera monitor too much. If you do not have a spare and the battery has gone flat while shooting take it out, warm it up in your hands for ten minutes or so and re-insert it into the camera. You may just get a few more frames out of the battery.
Use the light to your advantage. Normally landscape photographers are looking to use the light at the beginning and end of the day, sunrise and sunset. However in the autumn the sun will be lower in the sky and will be very useable throughout the day. Look to have the sun at right angles to you and use it to bring out textures and details. Experiment, shoot into the light and use long dark shadows for mood and atmosphere.
As well as the big impressive landscapes look for details, close-up images and ‘micro landscapes’. A coating of frost on normal everyday objects can visuallytransform them. A lens such as the stunning Nikkor 105mm is ideal but most modern Nikon lenses focus close enough to get a very different and more intimate view of the world.
Look for patterns and textures. Back lit autumnal leaves, textures on tree trunks, old pieces of wood or decaying plant life can all tell a great visual story.If there has been a heavy dew look for spiders webs, droplets of water on blades of grass or if there is a frost look for ice patterns in puddles or leaves etched with ice.
Keep it simple. You do not have to shoot the whole forest! Isolate the subject matter and look for simple lines patterns and textures. Keep the colour palette simple, “less is more” is often very apt when shooting autumnal images.
If you are struggling to find huge swathes of autumnal forest (we don’t all live near the New Forest ! ) try the local park or even your back garden. You can set images up by making a small still life from wind fall apples or whatever autumnal elements and props you have lying around such as old watering cans, terracotta plant pots and snail shells. (I used to shoot shoe brochures and every autumn I would put the same snail shell into different manufacturers brochures !)
Never give up. If you go to shoot a forest and the colours haven’t arrived you simply go back a week later. If you go out shooting and the weather and light are not right return at a later date. Autumn can be very fleeting. The colours can be perfect and one big Atlantic storm and its all over for another year. Make the most of what I think is the best time of year. Enjoy the colours, the bonfires, the pumpkin patches and the early frosts. Winter is just around the corner.