"Turning Over an Old Leaf"
Original Article by Nick Blackmore
Photographs by Anne Day
"Article first featured in Olympus User Magazine"
"Taking autumn photographs - the compelling seasonal activity that puts our abilities to the test."
GIVEN THAT THE effect of the four seasons is felt throughout all of the vast temperate
and polar regions on the planet, it’s
surprising to consider that no other place is
as readily associated with a season as New
England is with the autumn. Some might say
that this awesome autumnal experience
must therefore be overrated, but then such
people have clearly never visited the region.
As a travel destination, New England
stands alone – if you holiday there, the
photos you upload on your return will have
a different character to the records of your
previous vacations. As with many other
destinations, the area offers timeless
architecture (in the form of woodframe
houses) and abundant natural beauty.
However, at the right time, these familiar
images are suffused with something
Taking autumn photographs challenges your technical abilities and encourages you to
be more creative with your perspectives.
While there is a plethora of reasons why
photography is an enjoyable pastime, for
many the reason is that an image can catch
a palpably unique moment. New England in
the autumn is a succession of such moments.
Whether you capture the leaves as they
fall or snap them on the ground, you’re
observing the transience of life, in brilliant
colour. As the trees curtail
chlorophyll production in response to
the reduced sunlight, various accessory
pigments replace their usual green, and this
lends the landscape its definitive autumnal
palette of yellow, orange and red.
Much of the area’s economy is now built
upon seasonal travellers (referred to, in
the rather quaint touristic nomenclature,
as ‘leaf peepers’) who inundate the area to
admire the natural beauty of the fall foliage.
The six states that make up this far northeastern
corner of the United States are not
short of destinations to fill your schedule.
Boston, Massachusetts is New England’s
largest city and its de facto capital. It’s worth
devoting an entire trip to absorbing its
venerable character and vibrant intellectual
culture. The state is also home to Harvard
University and its library, the world’s largest.
The many port towns and cities of New
England, like Portland in Maine, are worth
visiting for fresh perspectives on the Atlantic.
Untouched rural areas still exist in northern
New Hampshire and northern Maine.
Be warned though: the climate remains
unpredictable. Famously, Mark Twain once
said: “If you don’t like the weather in New
England, just wait a few minutes.” If you’re
new to leaf peeping, you may want to sign
up with one of the many available foliage
tours, as insurance that you’ll get the most
from your time there.
And lastly, if your departure inspires too
much jealousy toward those who live among
such natural beauty all year round, be
thankful that you’re a tourist – those poor
New Englanders have to rake all those
leaves up at some point!
Take a leaf from our book
Spend some time scouting out a few
unconventional locations, like this
abandoned factory in a Connecticut
mill town, and you’ll create
a set of images with character and
a narrative.Autumn Photographs
Including livestock gives your photos
extra life. Capturing the
morning fog can make your image even
more atmospheric, but you’ll have to
be an early riser if you want to capture
a vista as good as this one.Autumn Photographs
Bringing leaves into crisp focus
against the New England landscape
can be a sensitive process.
Modern digital photography allows
for prodigious depth of field; to
compensate, you’ll need a fairly wide
aperture, a wide-angle lens and a
high shutter speed. This should help
to soften the background.
The veins and delicate epidermis of
leaves can provide scintillating visual
The woodframe houses of the region,
like the one below in Connecticut,
provide a colourful contrast to their
surroundings. Be sure to respect people’s
property though – this was taken from
further away than the zoom suggests.
Leaves stuck to your window by
condensation are an annoyance you can turn to your
advantage. Here, they appear to be
floating in the air, or on water.
Windows can frame a
great picture, literally. Here the
exposure value has been set for the
outside rather than the darker interior,
and the latticework isolates individual
squares of vibrant textured colour.
New England lakes can provide an
awesome compliment to the autumn
skies. For shots like the one below, select
‘P’ for program shooting and your
Olympus camera automatically sets
the correct aperture value and shutter
speed for the brightness of the subject.
New England’s roadsides are littered
with farms and part-time food vendors,
selling everything from pumpkins to
cider, which can add
a human touch to your foliage
Searching for the best angle to
shoot a building and its surroundings
can lead to interesting photographic
Sunrise and sunset
Having the patience to shoot a location
throughout the day can pay dividends.
You’ll need a little luck to capture a
rainbow. This shot was taken in
the morning, with the sun rising behind
the camera, but with a storm breaking
in front of it – a combination that
emphasised the dark sky behind the
barn and the bright red of the trees (14-54mm lens at 29mm, 1/320 sec, f7).
A switch in lens and focal length
(50-200mm lens at 107mm, 1/320 sec,
f6.3) focused on the striking contrast
between the trees and the sky.
The same trees treated after sunset
produce a different response. Shooting
at 1/320 f4 captures the sky while it
is still stained with orange.
Waiting for less than 10 minutes and
shooting with the same lens and f-stop
value captures the sky in a steely,
Old England (and
Scotland) in the fall
New England’s name is a reminder of its
colonial heritage back in the British Isles.
But what do these shores have to offer
as an alternative to the region?
The National Arboretum (‘tree garden’)
is the product of an ambitious planting
scheme that began back in 1829.
Located near Tetbury, Gloucestershire,
the arboretum is a photographer’s delight
at any time of year, but in the autumn its
collection of maples display a matchless
array of seasonal colours. The fact that
the arboretum was styled on an aesthetic
rather than scientific blueprint makes it
all the more appealing.
On the border of Norfolk and Suffolk lies
this patchwork of pines, heathland and
broadleaves: ideal fodder for any foliage
photographer. A range of trails allows
you to pedal around in search of the
Cairngorms National Park
The largest national park in Britain
includes wild moorlands and mountain
peaks. There are ranger-led walks through
the pine woods all year, and numerous
outdoor events to get involved in.
© Olympus UK
Click here for more information about the free Olympus Magazine.
Return from Autumn Photographs to the Photography Tutor page.