|October is the month where everything changes. The onset of Autumn, showing the signs of change last month, is now in full swing. The clocks change, making an obvious difference to the hours of daylight and shifting the time of sunset considerably. The countryside explodes into colour while all of a sudden the heating needs turning on and a trip down to the local supermarket is needed for a supply of light bulbs. |
Animals and Birds
It is the time of year when things start to become difficult for the wildlife in the countryside. Not yet desperately difficult, but certainly harder than they have been through the plentiful time of the late summer and earlier part of Autumn. The berries, abundant a few short weeks ago, have mostly disappeared along with most of the nut harvest, hidden if not devoured. Thankfully, the migratory species have mostly now departed, relieving some of the strain, but for a good part, others have replaced them from further north, looking for somewhere to spend their winter!
One or two species, that provide food for others are however either fairly abundant or have grown a little larger, providing a more substantial meal for predatory species. Fish, for example, spawned in the spring and early summer, have got past the fry stage and are now substantial enough for the species of birds that rely on their nutrition. Herons and egrets are a common sight on lakes and waterways around the country, along with cormorants, grebes and the darting kingfisher. All have food aplenty at this time and are joined by a few migratory species.
The grass has stopped growing and the trees will shed most of their foliage, making the hunting of small mammals a tad easier. Watch woodland edges for hunting birds such as Owls in the early evening, roadside verges for kestrels or open areas for species such as Kites and Buzzards. Many young birds are still learning their trade and their antics can be fun to watch and photograph.
Landscapes and Habitat
The days are now shorter and the sun is not so high in the sky, making the capture of sunrise and sunsets that much more accessible for all of us, no matter how difficult we may find early rising! The lower trajectory of the sun in the sky makes for great lighting in one direction but difficult if you turn 180 degrees. Try making use of the long shadows and looking to see what effects they are having. They are much like reflections, in that the eye will often not see them, unless you are conscious of them and take them into account. Remember to set your camera to over-expose when shooting towards the source of the light to keep detail in the subject otherwise you will end up with silhouettes. On the other hand, these can be effective if they are well planned.
Fungi are now rampant on the woodland floor along with the lichens and mosses on tree trunks and branches. They make a fascinating subject for those with a macro lens or close focus ability.
The longer nights mean that the evenings now will be lost to the photographer if the imagination is turned off, but indoor and night photography is a challenging and rewarding area with a little effort. Setting up a tabletop studio is neither difficult nor expensive. A couple of cheap slave flashes and a metre or so of material from the local haberdashery shop are all that is needed to get you going. Moonlight and a tripod is another way of getting different pictures.
Now that everyone is getting over the summer holidays, weekends can become boring without a touch of organising and a number of meetings have been arranged to break the monotony.
Birds relying on fish are well off at this time of year.
Sigma 300-800mm at 600mm, f/11 and 1/2500sec.
Tabletop set-ups turn dismal evenings into creative times. Sigma SD9 and 105mm Macro. 2sec with a hand held flashgun manually triggered. The puffball was squeezed with a pair of tweezers in one hand while the flash was fired with the other once the first hand was out of the way. A few attempts were made to get it right!
Off camera flash can be used effectively in the field as well.
SD9 and 105mm Macro by Sigma. 1/60sec at f/16 and Iso100.
Backlighting can be effective if the exposure is watched.
Nikon D70, 12-24mm Nikkor at 12mm and 1/40sec, f/8 and 1/3rd stop.
Still life is another use of the tabletop set-up
1/60sec at f/11 with flash. Sigma SD9 and 105mm Macro.