Monday, November 7, 2011

A Personal Take on Autumn

Although I have been shooting a sequence of early morning photographs that contain autumnal elements, this is more or less coincidental, my goal is to explore early morning light, it just happens to be late in the year.  I am in the "bah, humbug", camp of photographers when it comes to autumn, finding many of the annual cliches hard to like or appreciate.  However, I am still drawn to the colour and drama of the change in the leaves, so I set out this weekend over two days, to try and capture what it is about this season that I find visually so appealing.  I visited my usual haunt of the southerly reaches of the Englischer Garten, spending a couple of hours in the late afternoon on Saturday and Sunday.

One of the first I captured is the following:

I have started with this photograph, because it summarizes my visual sense of the season in a single image.  First of all I want to portray the complexity of the layering of colour and form within the trees, something that is far more visible at this time of the year. Secondly, this photograph captures depth and the sense of being within a cathedral of trees, a strong luminance has been created by the thinner dry leaves and the reduction in the canopy density as leaves fall.  Finally the sheer strength of the colour reinforced by the leaves on the ground is almost overwhelming. I do not need the blue sky or rising mist, my joy of autumn is in richness of colour, complexity of form and woodland scenes that pull the eye into and under the dying leaves.

From this observation I have developed 4 distinct themes that connected the photographs I took over the weekend. I start with the paths that run through the woods, drawing the eye into the landscape, almost demanding to be followed.  Again in each of these photographs I am very deliberately avoiding the sky, I want these to be photographs of the colour and form, not the trees.

Another way to achieve a similar effect is to select a very shallow depth of field, highlighting the detail of the foreground leaves, allowing the background to become and almost abstract blur of colour.

Taking this a step further I have brought my camera into the foliage showing the details of the leaves, but with 35mm prime set to  f/1.4, ensuring that the impression is of the base colour of the season.

The last 4 photographs were all to do with isolating a patch of colour and allowing a little detail to seep through.  Alternatively I also look towards the complexity of the wooded landscape.  With a varied planting, a range of colour and form is created as different trees follow there path to winter.  These images cannot compare, but my motivation was provided by the complex jungle photos of Thomas Struth.

Finally autumn is also about people and on a fine day in the park, many were out to enjoy the late sunshine.  I have adopted a 2:1 ratio here as I have with my recent "Transient Light" exploration, I find this brings attention to the space within which the people occupy the frame.

Once again, I have tried to keep my eyes low, to look into the scene, not to overlook it, the sky has no part in such images, the flat blue would break with the rich complexity of the foreground.  Having said that Autumn is also a fine time for the sky, especially towards evening as the sun goes down.

I want to finish this personal take on Autumn with two photographs that simply amused me, cannot say why, but I thought they were fun:

So there it is, Autumn 2011, I could not let it go by without a comment, after all this is supposed to be a Landscape course.

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