Through the Gadling Lens: photographing autumn

Here in the United States, Labor Day is now over, and all of the kids are back in school — sure signs that, despite the actual calendar date, summer is gone and fall is right around the corner. This makes me happy: while spring has those beautiful blue skies, winter is certainly pretty with all its whiteness and, let’s face it, summer gets all the really great press, in my opinion, autumn is really the most photogenic season of the year. There are just so many moods of autumn, you know? And so, this week, I thought I’d share some inspiration, with thanks to the people who have shared their images in the Gadling Flickr pool, on how to capture this beautiful season.
1. Colour

First of all, and most obviously, autumn is known for its rich, vibrant colour. If you’re lucky enough to live in a place that gets really showy around this time of year (or you’re planning on taking a trip to a similarly beautiful location), there’s no end of inspiration for taking a great photograph that really showcases and shows off autumn’s amazing colours. Here’s a great example:

This beautiful image shared by Matteo.Mazzoni in our Gadling Flickr pool is a great example of not only capturing amazing vibrant colour by filling the image with it, but it also shows how you can use depth of field to really enhances all of the beautiful hues that autumn can bring. A really (and quite literally) a brilliant shot.

But what about if, like me, you live in (or are traveling to) a place that isn’t particularly well-known for its resplendent foliage? (Who am I kidding: here in Houston, we barely have any colour change at all — leaves just turn brown one day and fall off). In this case, if you’re still looking to capture the colours of the season, you need to get a bit more creative:

In this great shot captured and shared by Donna Dow/Funkiller, instead of focusing on entire trees filled with red foliage, she instead captures the colour of only two leaves — the result still gives the feel of fall, still makes you wonder at the vibrancy that is autumn, but it takes the pressure of of her to find an entire treefull of great, bright leaves. I love this: even I might be able to pull this off here in Houston.

2. Mood.

Once you get past autumn’s colour, one of the things I love the most about autumn is how changeable the weather can be, and how the mood can change from bright and crisp one minute, to dark and gloomy the next. If you’re traveling to a location that has a true autumn, don’t forget to capture some of the dark moods of autumn in addition to the light ones. The following are two great examples:

I love this shot of this foggy autumn day in England (particularly since I lived in London for a little under 2 years, and boy, does this look familiar). This image was shared by mingthien in the Flickr pool, and is a great example of how sometimes sharpness and deep contrast can detract from the mood of an image. Looking at this shot, you can almost feel the tiny little cold drops of moisture in the air, and the dampness that sinks into your bones.

I think I feel a cold coming on.

In contrast, however, look at this image:

This amazing image, shared by t3mujin, was taken in Paris — and with far more contrast in this shot, the image conveys the darkness autumn is sometimes capable of creating. I love the pop of orange in the leaves on the ground — the telltale sign of the season — and I particularly like the inclusion of the man in the right corner, bracing himself against the windy drizzle. Beautiful, beautiful mood.

3. Activities and sports.

I think when most of us think of seasonal activities and sports, we tend to think of only two seasons: summer and winter. But the truth is, when you take a look around, there’s usually always something going on, even in autumn. And the beauty of capturing these activities in the autumn is that oftentimes the scenery and the setting around the action can help convey the season.

One great example:

(An admission: it’s entirely possible that I’m drawn to this photograph shared by localsurfer because it was apparently taken in Devon, and my English husband used to constantly surf in his neighbouring county of Cornwall. They’re both bloody nuts, if you ask me — the water in England is cold). This shot appeals to me because even though it’s a pretty classic image of a surfer on a beach, the fact that (a) the surfer is wearing a wetsuit (and judging from the bunching around his neck, a pretty thick one, at that), and (b) the colour of the ocean is mirroring the grey clouds, above, it’s pretty clear this shot was taken on a chilly day in autumn. Beautiful capture.


I love this image shared by ultraclay!. In this shot, captured in Rockefeller Center in New York City, the presence of the ice rink makes it clear that the shot was taken in a colder time of year; however, the skater isn’t bundled up like you would imagine she would be in the dead of winter. In addition, I love the movement of her hand that was captured, as well as her placement to the left-of-center. Really great work.

4. Comfort food

Finally (and you had to know this was coming), I love the concept of doing some food photography to capture the mood of the season. Summer might be all about cooling beverages and crisp salads, but as the temperature starts to drop, it starts to be all about comfort food, baby. So why not capture the mood that comfort food tends to bring to the season? For example:

Doesn’t this crepe look delicious? Styggiti shot this image while in Brittany, France, and claims it was easily the best crepe he’d ever had. And there’s just something about the soft lighting, the grilled vegetables, and that fantastic fried egg in the middle that just totally screams comfort food. This meal is definitely not one meant to be enjoyed in the heat of the summer — this is a meal that’s all about taking the chill off.

And finally, how about this shot:

To me, this shot screams autumn: the night is cool enough for a bonfire, and the sausages on the stick are all about that wonderful, hearty smoke-filled comfort food that is just perfect as the year is starting to wane. This looks to me like the perfect late summer/early autumn night. Thanks for sharing this, sgoralnick.

Hopefully, the above images will inspire to hang on to your camera as the seasons change, and keep clicking away to capture the new mood. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, you can always contact me directly at karenDOTwalrondATweblogsincDOTcom – and I’m happy to address them in upcoming Through the Gadling Lens posts.

Karen is a writer and photographer in Houston, Texas. You can see more of her work at her site, Chookooloonks.
Through the Gadling Lens can be found every Thursday right here, at 11 a.m. To read more Through the Gadling Lens, click here.