Where has all the daylight gone? The evenings have disappeared and despite the mornings starting earlier, to most of us, it seems that the days are now considerably shorter. This perceived jump in the timescale is not a natural phenomenon, rather a man made one achieved by changing our clocks by a single hour! But now is not the time to put the camera away for the winter as many of the more atmospheric type of shots can be achieved so much more easily at this time of the year.
Birds and Animals
The wildlife does not know about our clocks, although I often wonder if they notice the change in our behaviour? Our general movements all start an hour later than they are used to and continue longer into the night, perhaps frustrating the start of their hunting times or sending them closer to their lairs sooner than needs be. Maybe the migratory species dont notice, as they have not been on our shores long enough to get into a routine, or have left before we change our timetable. Maybe the residents dont notice at all because they themselves are changing their routine, despite the lack of clocks and watches. They are changing from a lifestyle of plenty, where they have bred and brought up their young, to one of hardship and survival mode thinking in order to get through the long hard winter. Some will do this by dividing up and defending their own territories, others will band together to make stronger units while some will simply hibernate until better times and longer days return. This is a time when, without doubt, photographers wanting to take pictures of wildlife will have to study the habits of their chosen prey carefully in order to track them down. There is little point in looking for lizards, for example, when they have all hibernated.
Landscape and Habitat
If the weather is kind, this can be the best time of the year for landscape photography with the sun rising and setting far more slowly than during the summer. Not because of the speed it moves, but rather the angle it moves at. The changes in light can be far subtler, but beware that they will still change faster than you can shake a stick if you are not prepared. Try setting up your tripod late in the day and framing a pleasant scene, and then take two shots five minutes apart. You will be amazed at the difference although you have changed nothing!
Watch the changing shadows because as the sun lowers it also moves laterally giving differing patterns as it traverses. In high summer, shadows simply shorten, whereas at this time of year they move sideways too, giving far more scope for creative compositions.
Out and about
There are still opportunities to get out and about and many of the attractions that are open in the summer still open as the days get shorter, albeit some only at the weekend. Often there will be cheaper rates for entry and the lack of thronging visitors can be a godsend for the photographer.
Other events such as the seasonal Bonfire Night which now extends over most of a week in early November can provide excellent opportunities for photographs, but do be aware of the dangers of large fires and pyrotechnics and dont do anything silly to get a picture. Its just not worth it! For this type of photography, a tripod is almost essential. Long exposures can produce some spectacular results, so it is always worth experimenting.
If you do get stuck for something to do in these darker evenings, why not take a look through some of the tutorials that can be found on the sites technique pages or have a go at this months competition where there are some great prizes on offer again. Or have a go at tabletop photography as advocated in last months article.
As is usual on ePHOTOzine, there are a number of meetings planned by members where a great atmosphere is generated. For the majority of these, all you have to do is turn up at the appointed time and enjoy. Much can be learned by talking to other people of a similar ilk and, to my knowledge, no one has ever been turned away. Take a look at the meetings forum for one in your area or be daring and arrange one of your own!
Some already organised are:
Blackpool Illuminations, 3rd November
Burnham Beeches, 11th November
Scottish Meet, 18-20th November
and others are being organised all the time so check out the forum and happy shooting.
Words and Pictures by Ian Andrews www.wildaboutkent.co.uk
The above three pictures, all taken with a Sigma SD9 and 170-500mm zoom lens, were shot within a few metres of each other and all within ten minutes of one another. All have totally differing atmospheres and show how playing with the effects of the light and exposure can affect the pictures you take.
These two kingfishers are fighting over a popular fishing perch that a few weeks ago they were sharing in order to feed a growing family. The winning bird gets to keep this piece of territory for the winter ahead while the loser will have to find his or her own patch. Canon 1D, Tamron 200-500mm at 500mm. 1/2500sec at f/11
Scenes such as this shot of Bodiam Castle in Sussex fair far better in Autumn light than in the harsh rays of the summer. Canon 300D, EF-S 10-22mm at 10mm