Photographing October

Your guide to taking better photographs this autumn

In this guide I’ll be walking you through a few tips on colour, light and styling to help you take some great photos to celebrate autumn. It doesn’t matter what camera you use, you can get some lovely photos using a phone camera and if you have a DSLR there’s a lot of options with lenses and settings. I use my 50 mm lens indoors to let in the light, keep my ISO low and just play around with aperture and shutter speeds.

You could start by looking at lots of photos on Pinterest or Instagram including your own, what are the things you like?  You can often recognise a photographer from her photos by the colour palette; shrinking yours will help you develop a unique style. Look up or make a simple colour wheel to see the colours that sit together.

I like all the quiet browns and across the spectrum cool blues, pretty much my colourway for interiors and clothes as well.  An accent colour will draw the eye in an otherwise neutral palette and is definitely worth trying. October has a lot of rich yellows and oranges that can look too strong for my palette so I desaturate them in my editing and use them sparingly; pumpkins are a classic for photographing October so they get pride of place amongst the neutrals.

The light in October is kind and easy to work with. You probably already have a favourite indoor place for taking photographs, where light and surfaces work well. My recipe would be a large window to the side left or right, a matte surface often a shade of brown like the old pine boards I use in many tea and coffee shots, and space to try different angles. I like to vary the background too, an old ladder, a chair or screen.  Outdoors you’ll need to think about what’s happening with the sun. Try to shoot away from the sun even when it’s cloudy, find the shade if it’s too bright.  Autumn mornings are often misty and milky early in the morning and you’ll often get beautifully filtered light till noon.

Planning content and styling will encourage you to take more photos and be a better photographer. As well as making a list of favourite autumn things, you could choose a handful of categories for inspiration; mine are, tea and coffee shots, the garden or hedgerow, nature in the home, baking and books. Sometimes you’ll just see an opportunity for a photo, something you like the look of or want to try out. Be intentional and go on photo walks or set up a version of a photo you’ve seen before and make it your own. I still haven’t done the table setting in the orchard shot I’ve been thinking about for ages. One morning this month I’ll pack my props and head over to our community orchard and just do it.
A few tips that work for me on the daily would be:

~ medium shots not too close, not a full roomscape, I may go bigger outside

~ for indoor shoots assemble your props and keep taking things away until you get the number of elements that look right

~ use aperture priority to get blur and sharpness where you want them

~ shoot straight on but play with angles outdoors like a drooping flower head from the ground up

~ leave negative space at the bottom of your shot to give you room to adjust the photo in 3 sections sometimes called the rule of thirds.

~ consider the shape of the items in your photo, round shapes and curves are softer and more sympathetic.

~ edit your photos with special care over, sharpness, straightening including a skew to bring the lower half of the photo forwards and exposure and contrast. I use Lightroom and VSCO, I like the analogue filters on VSCO too.

Don’t forget to celebrate your work, get prints done so you always have a card to send or use for lists and post your photos on social media and photography platforms; it’s good to get positive feedback and you will. Enjoy October.