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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Autumn Light


Keep it clean and simple for the most dramatic photographs

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autumn light
King’s Pond with morning mist, Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont.
Another favorite lighting condition for me is backlighting. When light comes from behind colorful leaves, the glow can be magical. The best times to find good backlight are early morning or late afternoon when the sun is low in the sky. Although aiming your camera toward the sun can be a challenge, you can get great results with a little extra care. Lens flare can be a problem, so watch for that in the viewfinder. The simplest solution for flare, when inside the forest, is to use tree shadows to block the sun. The trees can become strongly silhouetted, the leaves brilliant and the issue of flare eliminated.

The photograph of the Vermont pond was made at sunrise. My wife and I drove off in predawn darkness into the Green Mountains, hoping for great light and autumn color at this pond we had spotted the day before. In spite of the fact that I had no clue exactly when sunrise was or where the sun would rise, a little luck goes a long way. A nighttime storm was just clearing at dawn, the fog lifting to reveal this glorious scene!

The wide scope of this scene required my 90mm lens (about a 24mm focal length on a 35mm full-frame format) on my 4x5 camera. I aimed the camera just far enough away from the sun to avoid direct sun, shaded my lens carefully and photographed quickly in the rapidly changing light. This morning was so special, with great color and light, that I kept making images in the area for another hour or two. Two other photographs from that morning were included in my ebook, Landscapes of the Spirit, a collection of my favorite photographs.

I hope I’ve given you ideas for your autumn field sessions. Keep your image designs clean and simple, and especially look for great light. Don’t settle for average light. Good luck and good light!

Visit William Neill’s website at www.WilliamNeill.com to learn about his new ebook, Landscapes of the Spirit, Digital Edition, check out his photoblog or sign up for newsletter updates on his courses with BetterPhoto.com.

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