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How to get the most out of the Autumn season

How to get the most out of the Autumn season - Brightly coloured trees, crisp cold mornings and the crunch of leaves underfoot are all signs of autumn creeping in and if you're a landscape photographer there's no better time to be outdoors capturing all of what nature has to offer. Here Tony Howell and Nick Jenkins tell ePHOTOzine why autumn is such a great season and they also offer a few autumnal photography tips along the way.

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Landscape and Travel

Dinas Rock Woods in Wales by Nick Jenkins
Dinas Rock Woods in Wales By Nick Jenkins.

Landscape photography is a popular hobby and profession and it's easy to see why. You can spend time out in the countryside or at the coast breathing in fresh air and you can take some great pictures in the process.

Two photographers who fell for the delights of landscape photography are Tony Howell and Nick Jenkins.

"I started back in 1976 after a friend showed me a photography magazine," said Tony.

Nick moved to photography in 2002 after deciding his pictures that he took when on walks in the country could be improved.

They are both firm believers that you have to love what you do in order to succeed: "You need to love landscape photography to be a landscape photographer," explained Tony.

"I love what I do, you can take landscapes all year round but autumn is one of my favourite seasons, there's plenty to photograph in autumn," said Nick.

Autumn means you can photograph grand scenic shots, close-ups that show the array of golden colours, falling leaves, mushrooms, foliage and even reflections.

To make the most of this colourful season you need to plan correctly and this is something Nick does in great detail: "I plan everything, I plan my shoot to work out where the sun will be at what time of day and what light will look best  but of course you can't plan everything. Sometimes you have to adapt and expect the unexpected, like rainbows - they're always a nice surprise."

Tony believes the best pictures you will take are those taken near to where you live in a place you have visited several times.

"You need to do lots of planning which might mean going to a location several times before you get a good picture. I always take a normal and sun compass to the locations I want to photograph too so I know when the sun will rise and where it will be in the sky," explained Tony.

Beech Trees in Bristol by Tony Howell
 Beech trees in Bristol by Tony Howell.

If you want to be really organised keep your eye out for locations that will look good later on in the year. There maybe something that looks good in a morning frost or reflected in a lake when the autumn colours bloom.

Fungi, leaves, woodlands and waterfalls all look great at this time of year.

"I like the trees in autumn, they look good on their own but they look even better reflected in water," explained Tony.

"If you want to capture reflections early morning is usually a good time as the water is still. Japanese Larches look great reflected in lakesIf I'm photographing water I will put a spirit level on the hot shoe to make sure the horizon is level in camera too," explained Nick.

Both photographers agree that foreground detail is important for landscape shots in autumn and you should always be on the look out for interesting foreground objects.

"You can take a picture in a woodland area at any point in the year but autumn is the only time you will get a large pile of coloured leaves in the foreground which are nicely framed by the trees," explained Nick.

Glastonbury Tor in the mist by Tony Howell
Tony Howell visualised this image on a previous visit to the location. The colour of the trees, the mist and the cow providing some foreground interest all make a great picture.

One way to accentuate your colours and composition is to think about framing your shots with contrasting colour near one another. A golden tree against a bright blue sky may be simple but it really works.

"Composition is critical." said Nick. "Most people will enjoy a picture more if it is composed correctly and lacking technically rather than if it was technically perfect and the composition was a little out. How you compose it is ultimately what will make people look at the picture and composition is particularly important in autumn."

Tony added: "Framing has to be right for the colours. Have colours that compliment or boost each other in your picture."

Time of day is important for any type of landscape photography and the so called golden hour is the perfect time for this type of work.

Hood monument by Tony Howell
 Hood monument by Tony Howell.

"Take pictures at dawn or dusk as this is when the sun is low in the sky and you get extra elements like mist or frost. There aren't many people out at that time either," explained Tony.

There's also the added bonus that an early start isn't as early in autumn as other times of the year.

"The lighting is far better and the air is still in the mornings. I love going out to capture the mist rising out of the Welsh valleysYou have to be set, ready and in the right place. I will wait a long time for the right light or if I'm near the beach and the tide isn't right I will sit and wait until it is. With this type of work you have a flurry of activity and then nothing so you have to be ready," added Nick.

Rainbow over Craig Goch Dam by Nikon Jenkins
 Rainbow over Craig Goch Dam by Nick Jenkins.

With autumn comes cold, damp weather but don't let this put you off. Overcast days can create moody pictures that often look a lot richer. Avoid shooting into the sun as this can often lower the saturation of your colours and it can also create lens flare.

To enhance the colours of the sky and foliage Tony uses a polariser filter and shoots 90 degrees from the sun to get a deep blue sky. " Shadows can look black through a polariser though so be careful," explained Tony.

A polariser filter also has the added bonus of helping to reduce the haziness that can be found in the air this time of year as well as removing the glare from water and leaves too.

Nick likes to experiment with a saturated filter to create deeper colours. If he underexposes the shot slightly and uses the filter the picture is given a deeper saturation.

When it comes to equipment and settings Tony usually uses ISO100 and he takes pictures using the sweet spot of the lens which is usually around f/8.

"I like wide angle lenses as you can get broad views and have interesting foregrounds. You also get things sharp," added Tony.

Nick is a film and digital user and for his digital work he chooses the lowest ISO possible, which is ISO200 on his Nikon D300. He has a variety of lenses from 70mm up to 300mm and he has a macro lens which gets used more in autumn to capture fungi.

 Glastonbury Tor by Tony Howell
 Glastonbury Tor in the mist by Tony Howell.

"I use a warm-up filter for the autumn season and I do a lot more close-up and macro work. The filter gives photographs a slightly warmer glow," explained Nick.

When it comes to post-production both photographers do use it just for different lengths of time and for different reasons.

"I do digital blending which is where you take two photographs of the same scene, one exposed for the sky and the other for the foreground and then you combine them in Photoshop to get a better dynamic range. I do a lot of panoramic stitching too," said Tony.

Tony can spend two hours on a single image, lightening, darkening and generally cleaning the picture up. Nick also uses it to clean the images. He likes to enhance the colours but prefers to try and get it right in camera rather than slogging it out after in Photoshop. He sometimes uses film which gives him the bonus of punchy colours that don't need altering in Photoshop.

"I do love film," added Nick.

A bonus of autumn work is that it sells well. The greens of summer are not as popular as the golden leaves of autumn and if you're taking pictures in a well known place your work will be bought even more.

"This makes life a little harder as everyone takes pictures in well known areas," explained Tony. "It's not easy at first, you need plenty of patience and good marketing skills as there's lots of competition."

Landscape photography is a rewarding career but it doesn't come without hard work.

Elan River by Nick Jenkins
  Elan River by Nick Jenkins.

"It has taken a huge amount of practise and self analysis. Always look at how you can improve your work," explained Nick.

"Persistence, passion and practise are the key. You can go out one day and get nothing and on the next day you will probably take plenty of good pictures," added Tony.

Before heading back out into the countryside Nick said: "When the world is full of autumnal colours it is very easy to get carried away and just snap. Try to take your time and really look at what your photographing."

You can see more work by Nick and Tony by going to Nick Jenkins and Tony Howell.

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Just Jas Plus
16 26.2k 1 England
28 Oct 2008 10:50AM
Ah! Shades of Autumn - the beginning of stripped trees! Smile

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