Wow what a month! One of the most enjoyable periods of photography I’ve enjoyed for a long time and picking out a single image from October seems almost impossible. The colour riot of autumn has of course been in full flow and while others might have been waiting for the ‘optimum’ moment (whenever that is meant to be), I know from experience that this time of year is an ever changing conundrum so getting out there as many times as possible through the month would probably pay dividends. A mis-timed storm or prolonged period of rain can soon put pay to any plans you might have to capturing some trees with leaves on and sure enough a single significant storm came along right at the moment when the trees were reaching full colour.
September is one of those months when it’s neither one season or another. This year in the UK, it stayed exceptionally warm, but while summer was still obviously over, autumn really hadn’t entirely begun. I find months like this very frustrating so I chose to use the early part of the month checking out some possible autumnal locations without having the desire of going out with real purpose to shoot, and with that having a low expectation of getting very much.
August turned out to be a surprisingly good month for photography. When I committed to converting my D800 into a full time 720nm infrared option, I envisaged that the long summer days of July and August would provide all of necessary ingredients to produce some great mono opportunities. Indeed, when I decided to head up to the Peak District during the latter part of August it was to take a closer look at Bolehill Quarry and the potential afforded by the Silver Birch woodland there. Birch makes for spectacular black and white subject matter and I was hoping to find a mix of my favourite trees perhaps with some long dry grasses for good measure. But what really started out as nothing more than a autumnal reconnaissance mission turned into an unexpected full colour landscape quest. I was told that there would be ‘some heather’ but what greeted me was an incredible purple display covering every one of the hills in the whole of the Hathersage area, a very special sight, the likes of which I genuinely hadn’t witnessed before.
July turned out to be a month with some new gear. I invested in a Fuji X-E2 and 18-55mm f/2.8-f/4 because I wanted something lighter for what I call ‘occasional’ shooting. It certainly has its strengths and weaknesses like any other camera and I’ll put together a separate blog post on this soon enough.
June was a very busy month, especially for infrared work. Our English summer is in full flight and for once it’s wall to wall sunshine and blue skies. That may not be to everyone’s taste for landscape photography but for those who have invested in Infrared capability like I have then there are no better conditions. Although June was a key month for rolling fields of things like poppies there probably wasn’t a better time to produce some high impact black and white images with the right approach.
Spring got into full swing during April and I could finally put to good use my 720nm Infrared converted Nikon D800, which I refer to as my D800IR. Infrared light reacts with Chlorophyll, the agent found naturally occurring in foliage, and Spring is a wonderful time of year for a creative difference when the leaves start to show themselves again.
After the photographically challenging period through February where I seemed to really struggle to find something I liked for weeks, March turned into an immense month photography wise. There is no doubt that come the end of the year I would probably be able to pick half of my favourite images from the sessions I had in this month – and sometimes you only need a few hours to fill a card with a whole set of images which have impact or poise, the right drama or subtlety. I enjoyed a number of mornings where conditions just played into my hands. Being in the right place at the right time is critical to get the best images but when the weather helps you deliver then things get a little easier.
A month like February can be pretty challenging. It’s very much a winter month of course, isn’t altogether a lot of fun and finding any real colour at all in the landscape isn’t that easy. Photographically it was pretty flat for me but it didn’t stop me getting out just to breath anyway.