The best thing about Autumn is the colour. During Spring and Summer the dominate colour is green and colour's something you really have to go searching for but during Autumn, the leaves start changing and bright colours come out, providing a virtual palette of colours.
With the abundance of colour on offer it would be easy to rush out and snap the first thing you see but Shawn says some planning is in order.
“Planning is always critical to the success of capturing good images. Prior to getting into the car to go to the location for taking pictures, it is a good idea to know what type of image you're looking for. If you're combining your Autumn landscapes with people, then parks are an ideal location but if you want to show harvesting, for example, you'll have to head in a different direction. There are good images waiting to be captured almost everywhere, just follow your eye and imagination.”
Autumn gives you the perfect excuse to spend as much time outside as possible. Shawn's lucky, where he works he has over three acres of land to explore so on any breaks and before or after work he takes his camera out for an exploration.
“Having time limitations can make you hurry and make you prone to missing ideal images that you went to that location to capture. So planning your day will give you the chance to capture images without stress and without worrying about how close you are to the end of your time.”
As with all photography, good framing and composition is vital for Autumn landscapes. To convey the mood and message of your photo you must nail composition. The best way to make sure certain objects really stand out is done through depth of field and choosing subjects that contrast in their environment. For example, if Shawn's shooting landscape scene, foreground is important. Choosing a foreground subject with little or contrasting colour is crucial. A stump, fence or dark green bush might make great foreground subjects with a background full of autumnal colours. The use of certain filters can also help enhance the image as Shawn explains:
“Polarising filters allow for colour and contrast enhancement, as well as reflection control. Neutral density filters help balance your exposures and enhances your depth of field control. Additionally, this filter helps avoid washed out images due to extremely bright conditions and I use Ultra violet (UV) filters on all my lenses primarily for protection. It is much easier and less expensive to replace the filter damaged by banging or dropping your lens. An additional benefit is that filter will help prevent an image that has a bluish colour cast caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet light.”
A filter can be useful when capturing crisp, blue skies something Shawn loves to see in Autumn. A blue sky can look perfect framed against a golden coloured tree but don't dismiss dark skies either. According to Shawn, dark skies over the subject, with the sun to your back makes the perfect scene.
Another advantage to shooting in Autumn is you don't have to get up quite as early. The best lighting is usually in the morning say 7am to about 10am and again in the evening or late afternoon say from 3pm to 5pm. According to Shawn, midday shots can really lack drama because of the loss of well defined shadows. Morning light brings redder tones, so yellow colours can look more orange while evening light makes for more yellowish light which can warm up a foreground.
When taking Autumn images Shawn uses three primary lenses. For certain landscape photos or extreme close-ups, he goes wide with his Sigma 10-22mm. To provide some distance from the subject and yet get “close” enough to see clear detail he uses a short telephoto zoom (40-150mm), and if there are animals or wildlife in the area of the shoot he will bring his large telephoto zoom (50-500mm).
“I have found that if I fail to take any of these three lenses then that specific lens will be needed to capture a spectacular imag so these lens are always either on camera or in a vest pocket. When it comes to equipment, use a camera you're comfortable with. The more comfortable and confident you are in the use of the camera the fewer problems you may have. I recommend you also bring a second camera body (if one is available) for use if the primary camera fails. Additionally, the additional body can have a lens mounted on it for quick use should the image present itself. Don't forget to protect your camera and lenses either since most of them do not get along well with water.
When it comes to the settings, Shawn's preference is to use the aperture priority setting and as the light changes over the course of the shoot, to use exposure compensation for any minor exposure adjustments.
Apart from the colours, there's also another reason why, as a photographer, you should love Autumn – it sells well.
“Images taken during this season are very popular because of the contrast of warm colours and tone symbolising, to some folks, changes in life. Additionally, one can take images that tell stories that are quite different from one viewer to another. These are the type of images that I strive to take and sell.”