Home Newsletter Locations Diary



Current Newsletter

October 2011    Photographers Resource - Monthly    Edition 94

Autumn Colours and Photography

An Autumn Drive in the Cotswolds

Image taken with Nikon D100, with 24-85mm lens @ 58mm, ISO 400, 1/160th, F6.3
In This Issue:-
  • Editorial

  • Feature - Autumn Colours

  • Photographic Feature - Filters for Autumn Colours

  • Photographers Diary

  • October Wildlife Diary

It's now October and traditionally thought of as our main autumn month, with leaves on the trees changing colour, nights drawing in and becoming darker earlier and our wildlife changing with the summer visitors on their way back to other parts of the world, the winter migrants coming here and our native wildlife busy scurrying around foraging for food and bedding ready for the coming winter months. At the end of the month we also have to put our clocks back, signifying the end of our summer and the start of winter.

This month we are taking a look at Autumn Colours and our photographic feature looks at those filters suitable for taking vibrant, colourful and well focused images. Filters for autumn colours   looks at the different types of filters, some to assist some perhaps to enhance the effects, we also look at where its needed as opposed to being able do this in editing.

With the darker nights it's also an opportunity to brush up on your night time photography skills ready for Photographing fireworks at the end of the month and into November. If you can, take the opportunity to visit the Blackpool Illuminations and experiment with different techniques both handheld and using a tripod, using faster shutter speeds to stop movement or even slower ones to enhance motion of moving lights and so on. If you can't get to Blackpool then go more local using your local high street or a bridge over a fast road capturing the car lights below. Within our Photography section we have numerous articles to help and advise you on how to go about this low light level challenge, and in particular take a look at Photographing carnivals with lights   and Photographing Street scenes at night  but you may also find Photographing fun fairs and Photographing coloured lights in forest/woodland settings  are also helpful.

Let's explain how this newsletter and resource works

Each month we have a newsletter or magazine and this comes out on or about the 1st of the month. The newsletter links to a number of new articles, tables of information and detailed location guides, amongst other things.

One of the most popular features is a monthly diary covering interesting and unusual things on, around the UK, in the two months ahead.

Everything that appears, or ever has, is indexed in a number of ways, alphabetically, by topic, by county, and often linked into sections. Many of the sections have their own front doorways so people with specific interests have direct access through these doors to their area of interest.

You can also get back to see every newsletter, from the beginning, via our recent editions link.

All of our links are coded showing you if it's an external link or one of our own pages and when it is, the type of page it is. You will find a key to the most popular ones at the bottom of the contents panel on the left and clicking on any of the symbols will bring up a full list. Holding your mouse over one of these symbols tells you what it means.

If this is your first visit, click here to find out how you might best use this site to help you find what you are looking for.


Autumn Colours

I find this time of the year in the countryside the most colourful. The leaves on the trees are turning into their magical autumn colours of oranges, yellows, browns, gold's and reds mixed in with the evergreens, but also the light levels are more subtle and when it filters through the trees you can sit, contemplate and enjoy your surroundings. If it has rained a little it can also smell fresh and clean. Of course with photography we can't necessarily get over the smells and aromas of an autumn day, but we can have colourful full depth visual images that can make use feel good and inspire others to have a go. Whether you are able to get out into the countryside, or visit an arboretum like the National Arboretum near Tetbury in Gloucestershire, or whether you can only spare the time to get to your local park capturing autumn colours is possible for everyone. We have a whole section of this resource dedicated to Autumn Colours.

The trees in our countryside take on a number of different guises throughout the year as they go through the many stages of their life. Many trees have been around for hundreds of years and they are still being planted today to replace those that are cut down to provide material comfort for ourselves, or under health and safety rules if they may be a danger to human life. Like all living entities their main aim in their lifecycle is to reproduce and try to take over the world, and to do this they start off the year by producing buds and flowers that are then pollinated by the many insects and birds that visit them for a food source, they then grow their green leaves which provide them with a food source throughout the summer until at the end of summer when the temperature drops this is their signal to stop feeding and to rest up for winter, and this results first in our autumn colour spectacular and then the golden carpets beneath them when the leaves drop off. Autumn colours - an introduction  looks at this in a little more detail and explains what is happening, how its triggered and more.

To help you identify a good location for autumn colours take a look at Finding autumn colour locations.   With autumn colours all around us you may be tempted to skip this one but this article has more in it than the title suggests. As well as helping you to identify a suitable location it also looks at other sources of information you can use to help you plan and find the best displays, together with our lists which cover the whole of the UK:-

If you want to find something more local to you then you could use either of the following three websites which allow you to put in your postcode and it will search for woodlands with public access close to you. The Forestry Commission looks after many of the larger woodlands including the National Arboretum and the majority of their sites have free access. For smaller more local woodlands with free access then the Woodland Trust is a good place to start. Their search page not only allows you to search for those sites closest to you, but you can also search specifically for autumn colours within the additional search options, selecting this gives you a list.

So we have now found a location to take some stunning autumn images, so how do we go about photographing autumn colours   what are the various aspects we need to consider. Of course you could

Under the Canopy

go along and just point and shoot and sort it out in editing afterwards, but isn't it more rewarding to actually work out what techniques we could use to get stunning images at source. That's just what this article takes a look at, such techniques as white balance  and colour management to get the colours right or even intensify them, Exposure and using lenses correctly to get the right Depth of Field, lighting how the colours, leaves etc are lit using flash, aids and accessories such as Reflectors, but also considering the angle of light and how we might paint with it. Composition is also looked at and consider other techniques for other subjects that might also be in the image such as a body of water or reflections in puddles, Photographing Water may help with this. How to go about using Filters and how they will help intensify the scene you are trying to portray and get the viewers senses going, see the next feature for more on this.

Photographic Feature

Filters for Autumn Colours

There are many aids and accessories that you can use to enhance your autumn images, some of which we have mentioned above. Here we are going to concentrate on how we can go about using Filters either by adding them to our DSLR lenses, or by using the pre-programmed types within the software of our cameras. Using filters for a lot of photography isn't probably one of the top accessories that jumps to mind, but especially for autumn colours as many of us will assume with such vibrant colours on display and the softer light that we get this time of year will allow us to get the right image without the need, and anyway if it's not quite right we can always correct it in editing afterwards, can't we!

Editing is a good tool to have available to help out when we haven't quite got the results we intended, but one thing editing can't do is correct anything that isn't there in the first place. So if we don't capture the image right, editing will fail us.

The Changing Colours of Autumn

The Golden Canopy

There are many different types of filters. As I mentioned above there are software filters within many of the digital cameras on the market today, like being able to take black and white images, but why would you want a black and white image of something so colourful. There are also a vast number of filters that fit onto the lenses of DSLR cameras. Two particular makes are Cokin Filters, who have two types a screw on version which can screw onto the end of the lens and a square version that are fitted into a Filter holder   that is fitted onto the end of the lens. Then there are the more expensive square Lee Filters which fits into a holder that attaches to the end of the lens.

Probably the most commonly used filter is the Protection filter, these can be screwed onto most lenses and provide a level of protection for the lens and helps to keep the lens clean. The next most popular filters is the Polariser, they are very useful and can be used to reduce mist or haze, increase, reduce or eliminate reflections, can make sky's bluer and white clouds show out, but best of all for autumn colours than can saturate the colours and make them show better. There are also filters that allow you to achieve longer exposures or for enhancing colour as well as adding special effects. Effect filters  looks at some of the special effects filters like adding stars, soft effects, netting and more.

We have specifically written an article looking at filters for autumn colour photography to help you identify which might be best for the image you want. Filters for autumn colours  takes a look at the different types of filters, some to assist, some which will help to enhance the effects, but we also look at and discuss where they may be needed as opposed to being able do this in editing. Of course if you don't have filters already and with budgets are tight there are other ways to get similar effects and Filters - Other solutions takes a look at these and their differences.


The Different Colours of Autumn

For more on filters we have a Filters Section as well as a Further information page which gives links to other articles as well as links to filter manufacturers etc.

The Photographers Diary

The November diary is now in the 'next month' slot with October moved to in the 'this month'. Both months have a lot of opportunities for everyone.  Some highlights that are of particular interest are:-

With October the nights are now starting to draw in, autumn is upon us with many trees now turning their traditional autumnal colours and at the end of the month the clocks GO BACK one hour as we head into winter. This month is the last month with lots of activities taking place around the country for us to occupy our weekends with and at the end of the month there is the last major school holidays before the Christmas break. I can't believe I just used the 'C' word, but hey I'm slow many shops in our high streets have had their Christmas displays on show since the beginning of September.

Many of the activities taking place this month involve nature, in our woodlands such as the Seed Gathering Season a festival organised by the Tree Council to inspire everyone to gather seeds, fruits and nuts but also to plant new trees ready for the future. Staying with the woods you also have National Badger Day on the 1st as well as the start of Red Squirrel Week, the 21st is National Apple Day and throughout October National Trust properties put on apple and orchard events for visitors. And of course October is the month when our trees and in particular woodlands change colour to their autumnal colours of yellow, gold, red, browns and more. Exbury Gardens in Hampshire starts their Festival of Autumn Colour on the 1st running right through October until the 6th November, where they provide visitors with a special autumn trail so that you can get to see the most of their maples, dogwoods and azaleas in full autumn colour.

The Last Apple


Illuminations are also a big part of the coming three months, Blackpool Illuminations started their annual marathon and continues until the beginning of next month. From the 7th to 29th October in Pitlochry, Scotland there is the annual Enchanted Forest, a sound and light show which attracts around 20,000 visitors each year to see the magical light display in the Explorers Garden. The 15th is Marlborough Mop, in Wiltshire, when the high street of Marlborough is taken over by a large travelling fairground and in the evening is lit up to full glory. Also on the 15th is the Hastings Bonfire Night, in Sussex, it starts with a torchlit procession along the sea front to the large bonfire and culminates in a firework display. At the end of the month, on the 29th, the National Tramway Museum in Derbyshire hosts an Halloween spectacular with illuminations, witches, ghosts and trams in the dark.


Enchanted Forest, Pitlochry, Scotland  Calum Summers

There are still a number of country shows, game and craft fairs taking place including the South of England Show and Gatcombe Park Country and Craft Fair on the 1st and 2nd, East of England Show on the 9th, and  Countryside Live, at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate Yorkshire on the 22nd and 23rd. Keeping with the country theme there is also the British National Ploughing Championships on the 8th and 9th, this year being held near Bishops Lydeard in Somerset, the Scottish Ploughing Championships on the 22nd and 23rd in Inverness-shire, and the Robin Hood Pageant in Nottingham on the 29th and 30th, a celebration of the legend of Robin Hood over the weekend. With jousting, medieval games and horsemanship, parades, falconry, living history encampment, and traditional period crafts from the time.

The end of the month is Halloween and over the last weekend there will be many local activities taking place, so don't forget to check out your local area for something closer to home.

Bird at a Country Fair

One major event taking place at the end of the month, which affects all of us is British Summer Time comes to an end on the 30th, when we all need to turn our CLOCKS BACK ONE HOUR, and look forward to the coming winter months which will have loads more going on than you think. So don't forget to reset yours!


Wildlife Photography In October


For the wildlife of the UK October and Autumn is time when they are busy feeding themselves up and getting ready for the leaner winter months, so our countryside is full of activity with the birds and mammals foraging for food. One such forest and hillside dweller who is very active this time of year is the largest of our native land animals the Red Deer. This month is their rutting period when males fight for domination and the right to build a harem of females which he can mate with. Over the summer months the males have been growing a completely new set of antlers, and it is these that use in their displays and attacks of aggression on other males. Red Deer are particularly large in number in Scotland, and in recent years the BBC Autumnwatch programme has followed a group of males on the Isle of Rum. Although the majority of the Red Deer

Red Deer

populations within the UK are wild, and if you should find some and be able to get close enough, which is not easy, there are some populations within England that are more used to us being around. In recent newspaper reports some of the Red Deer males have been causing a few problems, like those in Richmond Park in London, when us humans have got in the way or a little too close. At this time of year it is wise to give them a wide berth if you happen to be in an area where they are more used to us. Within England they can be found in some our National Parks such as Dartmoor, Exmoor and the New Forest, but take a look at our Deer Section for places you might want to try. This time of year is also the rutting  season for Fallow Deer, a much smaller breed, but the stags are still just as impressive with their large antlers and light spotty backs.

Autumn is now in full swing and a look in any tree lined street, out in the countryside, amongst our woodlands and arboretum you will see a wealth of colours from yellows, gold's, oranges, reds and of course some greens. Just like the New England Region of the USA our English Autumn Colours is probably when of our best photographic highlights of the year. It is all around us so we don't necessarily have to go a long way to capture some great images, just outside our back door. This years BBC Autumnwatch programme is coming from Westonbirt Arboretum, near Tetbury in Gloucestershire, probably one of the best locations in England to get a full display of all the autumn colours in one space, with its 3,000 maples and acers already in full autumnal spread. If you want autumn colours and water then you couldn't go wrong with a visit to Stourhead, in Wiltshire, with its large lake, waterside temples and surrounded by vast numbers of trees it is magical, and if you are lucky to get there on a sunny day then the reflections in the water are second to none. Of course there are lots Woodlands and Forests throughout the UK just waiting for you to explore and immerse yourself in.

Red squirrels

A visit to a woodland or forest this time of year is not only full on colour, but there is also plenty of activity going on both in the trees and on the woodland floor. Squirrels and jays will be scurrying about on the ground burying their stash of hazel nuts and acorns which are now ripening, ready for their winter store. Red squirrels undergo their autumn moult and replace their worn coats with one of the deepest red chestnut, their tails begin to fill out and they complete the cute package with their little tufty ears. The best places to see Red Squirrels in the UK include Formby Point on the Lancashire coast and in the Kielder Forest, Northumberland. 

Later on in the month as the leaves begin to fall from the trees colourful carpets of leaves appear the woodland floor but also for this months speciality, fungi, will also be covering the woodland floor, taking

route in old fallen trees, in tree bark and other such moist places and getting ready to disperse their seeds. The Red top with white spots of the Fly Agaric which can be found around birch or spruce tress are attractive to photograph, but beware DO NO TOUCH as they are poisonous. Or watch out for the black and white of the Shaggy Inkcap appearing in lawns overnight.

If you are lucky enough to live the in right country location you may also see Redwings who have migrated here from Scandinavia, Russia and Iceland to enjoy our warmer winter. Also look out for the FieldFare and other winter thrushes as they arrive from their breeding grounds and feast on berries in the hedgerow, and fallen fruits such as apples. Migration for most birds, that have been here through the summer months, is coming to an end, on the other hand the big migration of Winter Migrants such as swans and geese that visit us during the winter months is underway with Bewick's Swans arriving at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire and Arundel in Sussex, while the Whooper Swans and Barnacle Geese flock into Caerlaverock in Scotland, Pink Footed Geese arrive at Martin Mere in Lancashire and making their winter home on Strangford Loch in Northern Ireland are the Brent Geese. Our Estuaries are also filling up with more waders and wildfowl, such as the Merganser which can be seen along the east and south coast as well as in the Bristol Channel. Starlings will be gathering in large groups on treetops and telephone wires before joining up with other large groups in large roosts. Some of the best starling displays are seen at dusk as they come in to roost for the night.

Take a look at Wildlife Photography in October to find out what else is going on in the wildlife world this month.

Summary of Articles Included In This Issue

Autumn colours introduction

Finding autumn colour locations

Photographing autumn colours

Filters for autumn colours

Wildlife Photography in October

Winter Migrants

Red Squirrel

Red Deer  

Fallow Deer


Red squirrels



Bewick's Swans

Whooper Swans

Barnacle Geese

Pink Footed Geese

Brent Geese

Photographing Water

Photographing fireworks

White Balance 

Colour Management

Depth of Field  




Protection Filters

Filter holders

Lists Included In This Issue

National Parks

Autumn Colours in England

Autumn Colours in Wales

Autumn Colours in Scotland

Autumn Colours in Northern Ireland

Locations Guides Included In This Issue

Arundel WWT, Sussex,

Caerlaverock, Scotland

Dartmoor, Devon

Formby Point, Lancashire

Kielder Forest,  Northumberland

Martin Mere, Lancashire

Slimbridge WWT, Gloucestershire

Stourhead, Wiltshire

Strangford Loch, Northern Ireland

Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, Gloucestershire


Home Newsletter Locations Diary