On Assignment: Autumn Reference Photo

by | Oct 30, 2020 | Assignments | 0 comments

Maybe you can’t tell…but I had no idea how to go about shooting this great assignment, Autumn Artwork Reference Photo!

November is late to be photographing fall colors. I suggest you try to photograph this assignment as soon as you can. Just a couple days can make a big difference in how much fall foliage there is out there. We’re chasing light here, and it could be that the next couple of days there will be no light. The day I shot this assignment was gorgeous…but I haven’t seen the sun since. Rain for days. So shoot while you can!

As you can see in this amazing interactive map, things aren’t looking too awful bad this week. But by the time next week rolls around, it predicts that most of the US will be past peak.


So, what to do about it:

  • If you live at lower elevations, or down south, you should be in good shape. I know those areas generally aren’t famous for their color, but you’re the most fortunate when it comes to this assignment.
  • For those who live in “Past Peak” areas, you might be surprise at just how much more color there is out there than you think. It’s often just in patches, or a lone tree that just missed the memo. Here in Wet Virginia, there’s still lots of late color.
  • If you live in a “really past peak” area, go in search for oak trees. They keep their leaves for a looooong time. They’re not as colorful as sugar maples per se, but they will be more colorful than no leaves at all. And maybe Melissa can apply some of her artistic talent to take care of that problem.
  • If you happen to live in the southern hemisphere, where all the seasons are catawampus (sorry, an American writing here LOL), then you can shoot for this assignment too; I just heartily recommend shooting at golden hour so the trees appear more gold than green. And perhaps with a bit of tweaking in post processing, you could fool Melissa?
  • And if you happen to live in some exotic place like Quebec or Alaska where winter rules 10 months out of the year, I’m really, really sorry. Sad smile Not sure what to tell you! Best thing would be to go through your archives probably. Or you could just try recreating the scenes Melissa sketched out for us using bare trees, just for the fun of it. Maybe Melisa will decide to paint a winterscape instead! Smile

At any rate, wherever you are, whatever you’re shooting, I do suggest shooting at golden hour to make those colors (or sticks or green leaves) look as golden as possible. And there’s no problem with submitting photos from your archives.

Now for the pictures I took on my excursion!

I really had no idea what I was doing, roaming around in the woods LOL. Here are the pictures that I liked from that location, though I totally don’t think they look at all like what Melissa was looking for.

Melissa example

201023_James Staddon_1159 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 35 mm, 1-13 sec at f - 16, ISO 50

Haha. Not a hint of resemblance. Smile

201023_James Staddon_1168 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 17 mm, 1-8 sec at f - 16, ISO 50

Going for the path idea. Where did the clouds go when I needed them?

201023_James Staddon_1173 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 17 mm, 1-15 sec at f - 16, ISO 50

At least from the upper view the trunk stands out in this one.

And then climbing up that hill was great fun, but it turned out to be a complete dud too. Open-mouthed smile  That trailer at the bottom! Completely ruined what I was envisioning.

201023_James Staddon_1179 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 150 mm, 0.6 sec at f - 11, ISO 50

And then here's just a crop of the top, which isn’t anything.

201023_James Staddon_1181 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 200 mm, 0.6 sec at f - 11, ISO 50

It’s still my intention to go back to that tree. Still waiting for the sun to come back out. Smile

Going Deeper

So, since you’re going to be shooting in late autumn, here’s a membership-exclusive video about “10 Tips for Making the Most of the Distinct Advantages of Late Autumn”. I created it back in 2017, but the ideas described are still very applicable to today!


For non-members, you might find the following two blog posts helpful in your search for beauty during the shoulder season:

Now It’s Your Turn!

Ok, you can go shoot this assignment now. If you look for something hard enough, you’ll surely find it, right? All the details for the Autumn Artwork Reference Photo photo assignment are below!

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