I think my favorite time of year has always been autumn. When I turned to nature photography, that feeling was solidified. It always amazes me how a season can be so tranquil and serene, yet can be filled with so many riotous colors. Autumn is dripping with mood. Eventually, fall was the season I chose for all of my photographic camping trips. It is quiet and the places I camped were empty or close to it. No mosquitoes either but watch out, I have had my tent covered with snow by morning.
Fall is a season that begins with the very first sign of color on just a few leaves, and ends with fallen leaves often covered with the first snow. Autumn is worth it if all you do is sit in one place absorbing the color, listening to the birds, and watching the squirrels and chipmunks prepare for winter.
I hate to admit it, but winter became my second favorite season during my time in photography. Equaling fall for mood, that mood can at times be downright solemn. Solemn is hard to translate to a camera, but it can be done. Overcast skies, especially with storm clouds, are the key to solemn. When the sun is involved, winter is supreme. Even at mid day, at the latitudes at which I reside, the light is vivid but with a warm hue. The skies are deep blue and birds and other animals which are receiving that light, become detail rich and brilliant. Above all, at the hours of sunrise and sunset, the colors and tones defy belief. When I would make winter sunrise/sunset pictures on film, before there were software enriching tricks, I was forever being accused of putting color enhancing filters over my lenses. My suggestion to those who were suspicious, was to get up a little earlier, or stay out a little later, and see for yourself. Oh yes, dress warm too. I have frozen my fingers to the point of shear pain. Today my hands don’t work as they should and just maybe it was because of those cold winter mornings. As the years went on, I learned to do almost anything photographic with gloves on.
This year’s spring and summer are now a vision of the past, but of course spring is the busiest season for a nature photographer. Which birds are moving through today, and what woodland (and then prairie) flowers are blooming now, can keep you active from sunrise to sunset.
In summer you have an endless supply of subjects, both small and great. There are wildlife babies to be photographed, and so many insects and other little critters that you don’t know where to turn. Then the prairies are full of flowers and your macros expand into full landscapes.
Yep, I love spring and summer, but they ain’t autumn.
If you haven’t gotten out to enjoy (and photograph) this glorious season, it will soon be gone. Don’t miss it, the wait for its return engagement, is long in the coming.
The first picture below comes from landscape great Michael Frye. This glorious image was made in Colorado.
I truly miss the fall season it the western mountains, although when I lived there, I sometimes wished I was back in the northern forests of the Upper Midwest, as the mix of tree species and colors and tones is exceptional here.
Another landscape great John Paul Capinigro, brings us this beautiful image of Maine in fall. I love the way the light peeks in and out of the trees in this picture.
The rest of today’s pictures were made in years past by yours truly.
Since I was a child, I have absolutely loved early autumn in this area of Wisconsin. When I grew into a photographer, that love grew with me.
The color combos of greens, gold and reds in early fall, provide an amazing palette for the artist/photographer to work with. To me, they ceased to exist as trees and became pure color compositions. You think in the abstract, but often wind up making logical “tree compositions” which amaze you when you get home and view them. It is logic and tradition out of abstract thought. Kind of the opposite of the order you might expect.
Inevitably, fall makes the transition from being grand, to being intimate and small. Looking closely, or better yet looking down, becomes your road to interpreting late autumn. At least that’s the way my journey always seemed to unwind.
I will be forever grateful for all of those special moments fall provided me. It can be an tensely personal season. For all of you photographers, get it before it’s gone.
I’ve often made fun of the science (so-called) of human evolution. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that “human’s should evolve”. Without personal growth, this journey can be meaningless. Never let the explorer in you die, and yes, we all have one inside of us. Nature, people, art (photography), color, form, books, words, thoughts, they are all waiting for us to discover their magic. I could not live in a world where there was nothing new to explore and nothing new to discover.
God Bless and enjoy the wonder of this season, Wayne