Autumn can come and go in the blink of an eye, so it pays to be prepared with ideas and inspiration for when the trees turn golden and your breath starts to mist the air. This is the season that has inspired artists and poets for centuries – and with the help of your Canon camera, you can squeeze every warm hue, every texture, and more than a modicum of mellow fruitfulness from Autumn’s constantly changing conditions. From colorful landscapes to stunning shots of local wildlife, it’s a truly great time of year to flex your photography muscles.
As the days get shorter, the best light for shooting, both early and late in the day, is at a more civilized hour. This makes it an ideal time to capture some lovely family portraits, using the vibrant foliage in forests as backdrops.
Late Autumn storms are wonderful for the intrepid landscape photographer who seeks dramatic conditions. However, if you’re less keen on unpredictable weather, the season’s bounty of rich fallen leaves can be taken indoors for some interesting projects.
So Autumn really is the ideal season to get creative with and hone your photo skills…
1 Shoot detailed seasonal scenics with natural HDR
To get pictures packed with drama, capture the entire tonal range in high-contrast landscapes. All you need is the Raw mode on your Canon camera and a little bracketing know-how…
When you shoot into the light, the range of brightness in the scene will usually be greater than your camera can handle in a single exposure. But by shooting under- and overexposed shots along with the ‘normal’ value, you can record all the detail in the tonal range, and blend the pictures together to get a high dynamic range (HDR) image. HDR images can look heavily processed and over the top, but with the method outlined here, you can produce a natural-looking photo from three Raw files, and get all the subtle detail of the season locked into the photograph.
01 SET UP YOUR CAMERA
Select Raw mode on your camera, then bring up its Auto-exposure Bracketing (AEB) function. Set it to a three-shot sequence with a two-stop increment, this means you will cover a much broader tonal range of the scene.
02 TAKE YOUR SHOTS
In Aperture Priority mode at f/16, frame up your scene and take your three shots in a burst without moving the camera. A tripod is ideal, but you can do it handheld if you keep as still as possible and align your shots in Photoshop.
2 The best light for landscape scenes
Canon photographer Damian Waters shares his secrets…
The adage “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is never more relevant than when shooting landscapes with Autumnal colours. Simply turning up at a location and hoping for the best rarely pays off. Keeping an eye on the weather and knowing where sunlight falls at different times of the day at your spot improves your chances of success. Even with the best prep, there’s always an element of waiting for the right moment. Skies at this time of the year can also be grey and uninteresting, so compose your image to focus more on the landscape and include less sky in the image for the best result.
TIPS FROM PRO LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHER GUY EDWARDES
Llangattock Escarpment in the Brecon Beacons National Park is a great Autumnal location. At sunrise there is always the chance of either mist or frost in the valley below, especially when it’s been a cool night, followed by a warm and clear morning. When the first rays of sunlight begin to illuminate the ancient spoil heaps of the long-abandoned quarry, there can be some lovely colour combinations between the golden sun-lit trees and the shady blue tones in the valley bottom.
Guy Edwardes used his long Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS Mk II telephoto zoom lens at 150mm to compress this scene, pulling elements in the foreground, midground and distance together, while an aperture of f/16 kept all these elements sharp. He also used a polarizing filter to enhance the colours.
3 Get funky with fungi
The woodland carpet can spring surprises – make sure you’re all set to capture them!
There are about one million types of fungi, so you’re never going to be short of a subject to shoot! Autumn is the perfect time to photograph them, as they’ll be sprouting out of the leaf mould in your local woodland when the right conditions prevail. Fungi like it wet and mild, so a damp summer and a warm early Autumn can mean a bumper crop.
Shooting fungi means getting down and dirty. Often only a few centimetres above the ground. They can grow in dark, dingy places, and this makes it hard to find them. You can shoot larger fungi with the longer end of a telephoto lens, but a macro lens or close-up filters will be needed for smaller species or tighter details.
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