|Who was it that said the seasons are predictable? Oh yes, it was me, last month! And I have sat here during the intervening month watching persistent rain showers falling whilst listening to the radio giving out drought warnings and hosepipe bans! As I write, the wind is blowing brown leaves from the trees! All over the country, ripe berries are appearing on the bramble bushes and the local fox droppings are decidedly fruity. So, despite a rather poor summer, autumn is descending upon us with a determined rapidity.
Last year, strong winds during September denuded the trees of their leaves very rapidly, making the capture of the golden tones of autumn difficult, if not impossible, in some areas. Lets keep our fingers crossed that the same doesn’t happen again this year.
Animals and Birds
The insects that we talked about last month are now in decline, but food sources are still abundant as berries and nuts ripen while the summer draws to a close. Those birds that are heading for warmer climes south of the Sahara will be feeding up, putting on weight for the long flight ahead. Watch the telephone lines for gatherings of them. Some of the species that will stay here for the winter may well be storing food for the colder months ahead.
The jay, for instance, will push nuts such as acorns into soft ground for later retrieval. Some will be retrieved, some not, and a few will germinate, thus ensuring the long-term survival of the woodlands. Squirrels too will be spending the days storing fallen nuts and the little wood mouse will eagerly consume those that they miss. The squirrels can be seen throughout the day and can, with care, be closely approached, whereas evening time and a flashgun will be needed for the wood mouse.
Even the natural native carnivores, such as the Fox and the Badger are known to become fruit eaters at this time of year and an early morning staked out watching a bramble patch can pay photographic dividends. Set yourself up down wind with as long a lens as you possess.
Landscape and Habitat
September is the month when the whole woodland canopy changes from the proverbial forty shades of green into wonderful golds, browns, yellows and glorious hues of reddish umber. Although this is a gradual process, with different species changing at slightly different times, the best of it can be over very quickly. In this case, a week can be a long time, especially should that particular week be a windy one!
On the other hand, as the canopy opens out, the woodland floor gains more light and that other contagiously fascinating subject comes into it’s own. That subject is Fungi, and there are over 2500 species native to the British Isles. The colours and shapes are infinitely variable, ranging from drab to spectacular and they don’t run or fly away, so some time can be spent setting up the shot. It is an area where you can use your imagination and creative skills.
Out and about
As the children return to school, many of the summer attractions begin to wind down for the quieter months, but the star performers, the animals, are more used to noise and disruption than at any other time of the year, having just got through six weeks of mayhem! It is a very good time to visit these establishments, especially during the week when the animals will literally come out to see you as there are few people wandering around. The staff also, will be happy to answer your questions as they have a little more time on their hands. It can be an opportunity to get some exclusive shots that would not normally be possible.
The closing date for this years IWP2005 competition is 30th September so you have the whole month to sort out your entry and get it in. Entry forms can be downloaded by clicking on the link in the ePHOTOzine shop main page. With ten categories this year, including a new Best Amateur Award, prizes in each category and an overall winners cash prize of £1500, it is well worth the entry fee.
There is also the monthly competition on ephotozine, which also sports some great prizes. Take a look here to see what’s on offer this month.
You could also have a try at one of the regular ONE HOUR CHALLENGES, normally found here.
ePHOTOzine Meetings and events
On this page you can find details of meetings organised through the forum pages of ePHOTOzine. They are always a great day out and a good way of learning from your fellow photographers as the discussions that accompany these meetings inevitably centre around the hobby. The exchange of ideas is a learning tool that is often underestimated.
Don’t forget either, that a report on the antics of members on the day, accompanied by a few pictures, makes interesting reading for the rest of us, helps encourage future participation by others and gets you a by-line on the best e-mag on the web!
For this month, the best tip is to keep a black sack in your camera bag. It can be used as a waterproof mat for kneeling on that damp woodland floor in search of that great fungi image or to keep that rain shower off your equipment as well as an out of focus backdrop.
Words & Pictures Ian Andrews (unless otherwise stated).
The Wood Mouse will happily eat nuts at this time of year. Photo by Mike Taylor using Canon 10D, 100mm lens and flash.
The colours of the foliage can vary wonderfully as here at Kearsney Abbey in Kent. Sigma SD9, 17-35 EX. Camera stood on a wall.
The colours that abound in the fungal world can be amazing. Taken on Sigma SD9 with 105mm EX Macro. Tripod mounted as the shot was taken in deep undergrowth where there was not a lot of available light.
Allow your imagination to look at this fascinating world from a different viewpoint and some amazing shots can be had.
Photo by Mike Taylor taken on a Canon 10D with 100mm Macro.
Isolate colours and/or textures to help things stand out. Nikon D70 with 18-70mm kit lens.