I’m not a big fan of Autumn. In fact it’s probably my least favourite season. The nights drawing in, falling temperatures and the premature launch of the festive season, all providing good cause to mark down the latter months of the year.
However, Autumn does have one redeeming feature. It is the most colourful of seasons. The splendid reds and maroons, the vibrant yellows and orange, the vivid greens. On a clear day, these colours contrast beautifully with with grass greens and sky blues.
Early Autumn is the best time to photograph the season, before the wind blows the leaves from the trees and the rain turns them to mulch. This is when the shortening days cause chlorophyl levels to decrease and pigments such as cartenoids and anthocyanins are revealed.
The intensity of colour is related to the weather leading up to and during the Autumn. This can effect the chemical processes that take place as the trees prepare to shed their leaves.
When capturing Autumn colours I like to use a polarising filter. This reduces reflections in the leaves and really brings out the blue skies, especially at steep angles, without oversaturating the image. The effect can be especially pronounced in uncomplicated pictures.
Choosing the right setting for white balance also brings out the colours. The default setting for most digital cameras is to automatically detect the white balance, but this can be overridden by choosing one of a number of presets for such situations as sunlight, cloud, tungsten lighting and fluorescent lighting.
Autumn colours often appear at their best when photographed during the golden hour – the hour before sunset or after sunrise, when the sun is at it’s lowest. This produces a warm glow that brings out the greens especially. Manually overriding auto white balance is a must at this time as the automatic setting will try and compensate for the colour cast generated by the low sun.