Photography News Issue 49

Photography News | Issue 49 | photographynews.co.uk

Technique 18

Improve your autumn shots Fall speed ahead It’s nature’s most photogenic season, but you can’t just expect great autumnal pictures to leap into your lens. Try these simple tips for better colour, composition and lighting and you’ll soon fall in love with autumn again

Words & pictures by Kingsley Singleton

Choose the right time and location

Use backlighting for autumn glow

Autumn colour is fleeting, and therefore so are the chances of shooting it at its best. Add in finding the right spot to shoot and the limited times of day when you’ll get the best light, and you’re looking at small windows of opportunity for ideal conditions. Therefore, it makes sense to plan your woodland shoots with military-grade precision. If possible, locate some suitable woodland near you and monitor the turning colours closely; you’ll be able to make the most of such a location at short notice, so you’re less likely to miss out if a high wind strips the trees before you can shoot them. Alternatively, plan a proper excursion to some of Britain’s most fabulous woodland via the Forestry Commission (forestry.

You might think the vibrant colours of autumn leaves are enough to make great images on their own. But like any landscape subject, it’s the quality of light that makes the real difference. Low sun and warm light are sensible choices, but you can really improve leafy pictures by shooting into the light, wherever the sun is in the sky – it’ll make leaves burst with life. This method works because most leaves are translucent, so as soon as you put light

behind them they’ll glow. Backlighting will also give a sparkle to tree trunks andbranches, but it needs to be handled with care. Pointing the camera into the light will very likely cause your pictures to be underexposed. To fix this, find exposure compensation (usually a button with a +/- icon) and dial in around +1EV; this may make some highlights peak, but most of the subject should be well exposed. If it’s too light or too dark, increase or decrease the exposure compensation.

gov.uk) or Woodland Trust (wo o d l a n d t r u s t . o r g . u k ) websites. The FC has a dedicated autumn colour page at forestry.gov.uk/autumn. Many of the shots here were takenatWestonbirtArboretum in Gloucestershire; an entry fee applies and you need to shoot within the opening hours, but even with a lower sun in October and November that’s not a problem; the species and colours are amazing.

Pick the right lenses and focal lengths

Landscapes, whether they’re autumnal or otherwise, usuallymake you think of shooting at wide-angle. That can work for some scenes, but if you’re shooting woodland views, wide- angle lenses can lead to disappointment. Woodlands are usually cluttered places, even if they’re cultivated or managed, and the huge angle of viewmeans it’s difficult to be selective in terms of subject. Instead, try using longer focal lengths for woodland work. The long end of a standard 18-55mm or 24-70mm zoom will give you a much more balanced view, but don’t be afraid to push further still: a 70-200mm or 70-300mm is a great woodland lens and if you use it at wider apertures it will provide some great separation for your subject. Of course, using a longer lens doesn’t mean you suddenly need to start shooting handheld. If the lens has a tripod collar, attach your quick-release plate to that before mounting on the tripod for steadier results.

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