Autumn has to be one of the best seasons of the year for photographers. The colour palette of yellow to dark reds often offers remarkable opportunities during the late afternoon sun. The tradition is to collect ‘conkers’ the nuts/seeds from the Horse Chestnut tree in late September, early October with the view of taking part in ‘conker competitions’.
For closeup autumnal photography I always shoot with as large an aperture as possible (ideally around f/1.4-f/2) so to create a photo with a very shallow depth of field. Shooting at f/1.4 can be a tricky experience but achieving an ultra sharp image presented on a soft bokeh background can be exceptionally satisfying.
Bokeh & Clarity
Back at the computer (using Adobe Lightroom) I generally use my Autumnal Lightroom Presets as a starting point. Bokeh is about how attractive the out of focus areas of a photo appear so it may seem contradictory that I often increase the “Clarity” of the image to draw out the foreground. Adjusting the clarity can impact on the background so it is a matter of moving the slider to get the balance right.
Shooting in the late afternoon sunshine (the golden hour) can really bring out the vibrancy of an image but I also tend to increase the the ‘Exposure’ in Lightroom by around 0.45 and if I have increased the ‘Clarity’ I often decrease the level of ‘Saturation’ to create that slightly vintage autumnal feel.
You can see the adjustments made to Exposure, Clarity and Saturation above. It isn’t an exact science but I find that experimenting with changing these variables can create some striking autumnal looks.
If you look carefully at the images in this post and specifically the colour of the jacket that appears in each photo you can see the impact of such post processing adjustment but this generally isn’t overly obvious to the end viewer.
I use a range of presets gathered up over the last few years but if you are getting started then the FlixelPix Autumn Lightroom presets are a great place to start when creating the autumnal look. I do recommend that you try and work with custom processing for each image as there will be times when you will want to draw out the reds and others when the greens are the focus.