Autumn photography

As part of the establishment of Frets Creative as a creative hub for Strathaven, Creative Strathaven is planning to run photography workshops once COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease. Myself and Mhairi Anderson will be promoting those along with other workshops as and when we can make a start.

In the meantime this is the first in a regular series of short blogs on photography, this time focussing (yes!!) on photography in autumn.

I often think about what is my favourite season and for colours it is undoubtedly autumn. As the leaves begin to change colour a fantastic scene emerges and brightens u[ even the drabbest of days.

The key to good autumn photography is picking the ideal day to get out and about. The colours are great in any weather but really light up when the sun shines. Then it is all about angle of light and composition. Late afternoon with a lower sun emphasises the colour and the contrast of bright blue skies against orange leaves is wonderful. Composition is important in all photography, and that applies to landscape photography as well. Make sure there is a context to the picture, unless you are going for the ‘single leaf’ approach against grass. All photography is about leading the viewer through a scene, with a focal point clearly evident. An image should tell a story about what you were thinking when you put the eyepiece to your eye, or held your phone up in front of you. Look at where the sun is to make sure it is maximising the shot, with it behind you or at ninety degrees if possible. Shooting into the sun is not really so effective unless you want flares in the shot.

Use the colours to enhance or frame a scene. For example the shot below of Nelsons Column in Glasgow Green uses the colours in the tree in the foreground to lead your eye to the column itself (I hope!!). The one of East Church House in Strathaven also uses autumn colours to frame the building.

Have a go and see what you come up with. Remember it is not all about having a £2000 camera. Cameras in phones now are fantastic and can get great results. It’s not all about the equipment, but the composition.

Five go wild in Strathaven

Five go wild in Strathaven

This has proven over the years to be one of my most successful commercial images and an image people keep commenting about. So how was it done? Occasionally photographers will tell you how important the idea of being in the right place at the right time is, and this is a case in point.

I had been parked in Strathaven, near the castle, with a plan to take late afternoon shots of the castle and Kirk Street, aiming to capture light trails in the fading light. I was reasonably happy with the outcome, and after putting Ollie, my photography colleague dog, back in the car I was getting all my gear into the boot. I heard a noise and looked round to see five sheep staring at me through the cemetery gates. So I quickly grabbed my camera and tried to slowly walk towards them, expecting them to scarper.

And indeed they did turn and run, but only to the top of the steps. They all turned round and one had its hooves a step lower than the others, so I quickly fired off a few shots with no idea how it would turn out. Fortunately a few were fine, given I only had about ten seconds to capture the scene. A quick edit and a a transformation to black and white and the image was complete.

When I shared it on Facebook it got a great response, including a comment that two of them had been seen at a bus stop on Glasgow Road.

It continues to be popular so I decided it was time to tell the story of the image.