I woke up the other day, and it felt chilly for the first time since winter. Instinctively I felt quite excited. When I processed why that would be, I realised it was because I could feel autumn creeping in. To most people the end of summer is something they never look forward to. The end of those sunny days & warm evenings, and the loss of greenery to the gardens and natural spaces around us. I don't mourn the loss. Bring it on! Autumn is without doubt the most spectacular season of the year, and the colours and light combine in a way that connects with me, and feeds my joy and wonder. I associate the season with fresh dewy sunrises, the call of red deer, and the colourful canopy of a deciduous woodland. It's also time for getting back into three of my favourite things; cosy jumpers, brown boots, and warming up with a hot chocolate. Not to mention nature photography. After a summer in photographic hibernation I can't wait to get started again this autumn, so I thought as the season is still yet to unfold, I would share some of my favourite autumnal photos from the last few years.
Before the trees turn fully autumnal, the action is all at the deer rut. The cold mornings and shorter daylight hours prompt a hormonal response in the deer, which kick-starts their most active time of year. Stags are emboldened, and easier to find, while the females find themselves in high demand. I don't often get many photos of the more shy females, but this doe was kind enough to oblige.
Beneath the same tree the following year, I caught this female in some of the best light & mist I've ever been out in.
And a few days later, this Sika stag stopped in the perfect spot. On this occasion, the sun was a little higher in the sky, and most of the 'mist' here was actually dew evaporating in the warm sun, having been in shade for the first hour of the day. If you can catch that effect back-lit, you get this spectacular result.
Well it turns out 2018 was a good year for me, as it was also the year I caught this massive red deer stag illuminated by the low sun.
Last year I spent a few minutes with this brute, who wasn't phased by my presence at all. This was a shot I'd wanted for some time, so very satisfying to get.
For more deer images, check out my full deer photography gallery.
Once the deer rut mellows, calm returns to the season, and my photography becomes much less hectic. It's now time to soak up the best of the colours, and spend time with my most relaxing friends; the trees. This is a view over my home county of Bedfordshire. I don't do an awful lot of landscape photography close to home, but in the right conditions it looks pretty nice.
Tarn Hows, in the Lake District, where it's sometimes possible to achieve a perfect reflection. This was a few days before the leaves really started to turn, but I like the transition of colours from yellow and orange in the middle, to the darker greens further out.
Another woodland in transition, and this is one of my favourites. This dense birch woodland provides a frame-filling abstract, and an attractive natural mural-effect.
On a similar theme here, but lit by the morning sun on this occasion. This was from the Bavaria National Forest, in Germany. I would really recommend a visit in autumn if you're into that sort of thing. I've never seen New England or Colorado in 'the fall' but Bavaria would be hard to beat.
Bavaria again, and it's the combination of different tree species that make up this mosaic of autumnal colour, with the main tree in the middle catching a lovely side-lighting effect. I'm really jealous of people who get to spend years of their lives in places like this. The possibilities for nature photography feel almost endless.
Here, as well as the orange and yellow birch leaves, I liked the combination of black and white in the tree trunks and branches. The side facing the sun shows the clean birch bark, while the side in the shadow of the hillside gets little sun, and creates a cold, damp environment for black lichen to thrive. Sideways on, it creates a bit of a barcode / zebra stripe effect.
This woodland is just 20 minutes from home, and it's a place I've known for as long as I can remember. And this misty morning was probably one of my most memorable visits here. The colours were perfect, and the whole woodland felt alive with one last show of colour before winter.
A wider view here, of the Lake District as the trees start to turn amber, aided by the evening light.
One last photo here, that I don't think I've shared before. I love these sorts of autumn leaf 'still life' shots, and I never think to try them. So Maybe I'll give it a proper go this year. Nothing really sums up a season like autumn leaves.
Make sure you get out this autumn, and make the most of it. Enjoy the rustling of the leaves under foot, the colours in the trees, and the crispness of the morning air. And perhaps most importantly, the hot chocolate.