Updated: Dec 14, 2021
Ask any landscape photographer what their favourite season of the year is and a large portion of them would tell you that it is autumn and for good reason; the golden browns of the leave that flood the landscape, the fog filled mornings, shorter days meaning a few extra hours sleep to catch the sunrise and the drop in temperatures which bring about the possibilities of snow, ice and frost. Autumn has always been my favourite time of year, long before I even picked up my first camera. Perhaps its due to my Goth & Metal musical influences and love of the alternative subculture that always steered me towards the darker, moodier time of the year.
The issue with autumn being everybody's favourite season is the usual 'Insta-oversaturation' of images as I call it: Spring - 10,000 photos of blossoms, Autumn - 10,000 photos of golden forests or a generic hand holding a maple leaf or winter - 10,000 photos of snowy forests. Either because of the insta fatigue or something subconsciously inside me, this autumn I decided to shoot a range of images that would not necessarily be considered conventional autumnal images. To do this it was important to immerse myself in the landscape and look for shapes, colours and even sounds of the surrounding environment to gain inspiration.
I spent a prolonged time in one of my favourite locations; the fforest fawr UNESCO geopark. A stunning landscape with mountains, lakes, forests and waterfalls. There were some incredible sights this autumn and a lot of unseasonably warm conditions, perfect for me to immerse myself in for a number of days. Once out in the environment It was all about finding compositions that would be engaging and if possible, different from the conventional landscape image. This location, on my first morning of a multiday hike is one of my favourite spots; calm, peaceful and serene. In areas like this, there is almost an overabundance of beauty and that in itself can cause an issue regarding crating images. The following two images were both taken in the exact same spot but are completely different images. I literally just pointed the camera in a different direction. Both shots different in terms of composition and crop, but both I hope highlight the beauty of autumn.
Canon 5DSr, 60secs exposure, f/11 ISO 100
Canon 5DSr, 1/200th second exposure, f/11 ISO 100
It cannot be understated, just how important it is to get familiar with the surroundings you will be shooting. There are many aids that I personally use each and every time I plan to go on a hike or on a landscape shooting adventure.
Weather Weather Weather!!
Being in the United Kingdom, and most often in Wales, rain and driving winds are often my companion. It is vitally important to look at the conditions ahead of time. I use the 'Met Office' and BBC weather apps on my phone as they are both extremely good sources of information. You may ask why I check two different sources of information. It is because, especially in the mountains, there are such little nuances in weather, that there could be slight differences in terms of timings and conditions. Perfect example of this was earlier on his year where I only checked the forecast on one service and it stated rain so I went on a hiking trail in the mountains only for the weather to change drastically first to snow then it changed in to a blizzard and I was only about 20 metres from being struck by a bolt of lighting! When I got back, I checked the second weather app it showed snow. So I cannot stress enough just how important it is getting the weather right - and not looking too far in advance, as long term weather forecasts are never an exact science.
Shooting in changeable conditions in the valleys in mid October with my trusty companion - the shower cap! Never leave home without it!
Canon 5DSr, 1/40 second exposure, f/11, ISO 100
Timing is EVERYTHING:
How do I know when the light will be in the right place at the right time? As a seasoned hiker and explorer, knowing the timings of the light and positioning of the sun becomes almost second nature; we all have a number of natural, almost primal abilities deep inside us, that I feel we lose the longer we stay within our comfort zones of being indoors and spending the majority of our times behind computer and TV screens and not out in the environment. But, (just contradicting myself slightly) one of the best ways to know exactly where to be at the exact time to get pre planned shot, is to use the Photographers Emphermeris website or app. - Just so you know I am in no way sponsored of affiliated to this company at all - But it really is an amazing app that can tell me exactly where the sun will be at an exact time so I can plan my whole day accordingly. quite ingenious!
The Photographers Emphermeris user interface.
Probably the most important thing to research when dealing with shooting by any river or coastline, is knowing the tidal timetable for that particular area. There are many resources online where this can be checked out. but I cannot stress the importance, especially if visiting a new location, the timing and speed of the tides. I am fortunate to know very well the tidal reach of the river Thames and the Bristol channel. Both of these places have an incredible tidal reach and the water can rise multiple metres in the blink of an eye, This proves to be a great challenge compositionally and for those unaware, could prove to be a safety issue.
When all the planning and fine tuning is completed, it is then about going out there and finding what speaks to you in the landscape. Interestingly this autumn, I have been shooting a large amount of black and white images. This was most definitely the case on the final day of my hike in the mountains; this was mainly due to the extremely harsh sunlight and cloudless skies. I often think in black and white and having that mindset makes it easier to shoot in all weathers and made my experience in the mountains, very enjoyable.
The two images below were taken in the complete opposite locations and conditions, One a mountain in extreme sunshine, the other taken by the sea, low tide and extremely grey conditions. Yet by thinking in black and white I was able to maximise light and shadows to create images I feel are powerful and do justice to the environment I was in.
Horseshoe trail Brecon Beacons
Canon 5DSr, 1/60th second, f/11, ISO 100
Canon 5DSr, 1 minute 55 seconds, f/11, ISO 100
Away from the mountains, I started a new project, tentatively titled 'eventide' The project is at it's infancy but this is a concept I have had in my mind for a few years, but only started to formulate and put together recently. I have scouted many locations over the months and finally started to create the images now. Thus far, I have taken 3 compositions for this project and I am happy with the results, as they have come out exactly how I envisaged. Again, this was due to pre planning and immersing myself in the location. I look forward to sharing more of this project in the coming months.
Overall, I have been more than satisfied with the amount of photography, and also the type of photography I have created this autumn; I have not even mentioned the urban images I created in early October in my local area as part of my SE15/SE5 project. It has been a very diverse season, creatively and I look forward to printing and displaying some of my autumnal images at a later date.
Canon 5Dsr, 36 second exposure, f/8, ISO 100
Away from creating images out in the wilds, the online store is being worked on, slower than initially planned, but once ready, I hope you will be able to purchase prints directly from this site. All will be revealed eventually. Until then