Monday, October 4, 2010

Autumn Photography

Autumn is the season to explore colour photography. With its wide range of colours; rich palette of browns, splashes of reds, hints of yellows and touches of greens, autumnal photography has much to offer the photographer.


To help you capture the best of autumn, this article will cover:

• ‘My Colors’ and ‘Picture Style’
• White balance
• Polarising filters
• Suggestions for photographic subjects

My Colors
The ‘My Colors’ menu (
IXUS and PowerShot models) offers a wide range of options to control the colour in your photos. ‘Neutral’ usually gives the most accurate colours, but these often appear muted when viewed on a computer screen. If you want to bring your images of autumn leaves to life, try using ‘Vivid Red’.

‘My Colors’: ‘Neutral’, ‘Vivid Red’
Experiment with ‘My Colors’ settings by first shooting a scene in ‘Neutral’ and then in one or more of the other options. You will soon learn which settings suit your favourite subjects.

Picture Style

EOS cameras use ‘Picture Style’ settings to control colours. ‘Landscape’ provides vivid blues and greens. There is no default equivalent of ‘Vivid Red’ for your autumn photography, but ‘Picture Style Editor’ software, available on the CD supplied with the camera, allows you to create your own custom settings.

Additional style files can be downloaded from CANON iMAGE GATEWAY. There are currently seven new ‘Picture Style’ files available, including ‘Autumn Hues’. This saturates reds and yellows to give vivid colours and balances these with blues and greens.

Up to three additional ‘Picture Style’ files – created by you or Canon – can be uploaded to a compatible EOS camera , ready for use with any subject.

‘Picture Style’: ‘Neutral’, ‘Autumn Hues’

Processing the image later

Alternatively, shoot with the neutral ‘My Colors’ or ‘Picture Style’ setting and process your images on a computer later. Canon Digital Photo Professional software, supplied with EOS and some PowerShot cameras, makes it easy to alter the saturation and hue of your images, along with other parameters. If your camera can shoot RAW files it is best to use that format if you plan to make a lot of post-exposure changes, but it is also possible to modify JPEG images. RAW and JPEG file types are set using one of your camera’s menu screens; check the manual for details

The right colour balance

White balance, as the name suggests, adjusts the camera’s colour settings so that white objects are accurately recorded as white in the image, whatever the illumination.

Our brain automatically compensates for changes in light, so that a sheet of paper appears the same colour whether we view it in daylight or with indoor lighting. The white balance feature overcomes the same issue on your Canon camera.
Most of the time the Auto White Balance setting will give you great results; however adjusting the white balance to ‘Cloudy’ on the greyer days of autumn will bring out the colours you see in front of you. Experiment with different settings for the same subject to see which you like best.

Filtering the results with a polariser

A polarising filter can change some colours, but has no colour itself. As the name suggests, it works by controlling polarised light.
Light from the sun is unpolarised – the waves of light are all at different angles to the axis (direction) of the light. However, if this light is reflected from a non-metallic surface, the waves become ordered and all have the same angle to the axis.
Depending on how the polarising filter is rotated, it will block most polarised light, let some of it through, or let all of it through. Light reflected from flowers and leaves is polarized so a filter rotated to block polarised light reduces the amount of light from these surfaces, increasing the saturation of these colours.
But do be a little careful as a polarising filter blocks reflections, so shiny surfaces will appear to lose their shine. It can also make photographs of leaves look ‘flat’.

Look for examples in local parks and be ready to shoot as soon as the colours change. The yellow, green and red leaves might only be on display for a few days before they begin to fall. Fallen leaves, though, can also offer a colour subject for your camera. Fill the frame with a mass of leaves at your feet, or move in close to focus on just one or two attractive, colourful leaves.

Autumn sunsets are often splendid. Take a series of photographs at different exposures (for example, use a fixed shutter speed and shoot with a range of aperture settings). There is no ‘correct’ exposure for a sunset – you can choose the result you like best and discard the rest. Do remember to set the white balance to daylight to ensure you don’t lose the full lustre of the golden colours.
Autumn also offers a mass of subjects for still-life photography. Set a table close to a window indoors. Make a composition of fallen leaves, fresh fruit, flowers or other subjects. You can introduce man-made subjects such as plates, dishes and vases. Place a large sheet of coloured paper as a background. All of a sudden you have an indoor studio, illuminated by natural light. The opportunities are endless – and available whatever the weather outside.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic article - looking forward to more...thank you!