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.

That all changed near the end of the month with a trip back to the Peak District and Bolehill Wood. Early autumn was starting to show and I took advantage of a particularly cold Sunday morning when the ground hardened up with a rare ground frost and thick mist had rolled in across parts of the Peak District with a full cloud inversion.

I had my heavily favoured 70-200mm telephoto lens choice on again when I spotted the tree below I took a good half an hour to shoot all around it, closer in and further back. I’m not sure what it was about it, but the dark branches really stood out, together with the dappled lemon coloured leaves, a stature of real beauty for me. As such Colours Of Bolehill is this month’s choice though it could easily have been When September Ends which is actually a photograph of the same tree.

Colours Of Bolehill

Colours Of Bolehill

What Really Makes The Photograph Work For Me?

I absolutely love complex compositions like this. The dark silhouetted branches, the myriad of colour, almost paint specs in its nature and tiny details like the cobwebs which are really apparent to the right all add up to an image of real impact for me.

This is what I saw when I constructed Colours Of Bolehill:

  • The contrast between yellow and black really hits me with this one. There was enough space through the thinning foliage for the sun to really catch the remaining leaves on the tree and create a quite brilliant translucent display of colour.
  • It’s another scene where I worked hard to keep the sky out of the frame – I went full zoom on this one at 200mm to close the frame right down and fill it with those magnificant branches.
  • I couldn’t decide initially if the the cobweb detail to the right was a distraction or not, but on balance I thought it wasn’t an everyday ‘feature’ that generally shows up in tree images like this, so opted to keep them in. In the end I’m pleased I did because they provide a subtle point of interest in the photograph for me.
  • The dark corners in the bottom right and left certainly add to that feeling of light passing through the tree from the top left to the right and I love the way it enables the viewer to pick out so many individual leaves – that makes it quite a visual spectacle to my eye.
  • What isn’t very obvious in this frame is the level of mist behind the tree. This acted like a giant softbox here, diffusing the morning sun ensuring that shadows weren’t as harsh as they could have been. Again, a subtle aspect to the image which isn’t immediately apparent.
  • The break in the top right hand corner to enable the smallest amount of background feels like enough to still give the scene some depth. You don’t have to ram everything home in the viewers face to build the idea of where something is.
The Technical Setup
  • Taken with the Nikon D800E
  • Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII @ 200mm
  • f/5.6, ISO100, 1/100 in bright morning sun through mist at 09:27hrs.
  • Shot in 14bit RAW, manual white balance
  • Finished with Nik Color Efex Pro 3 and Adobe Photoshop CS6
  • No sharpening

I can see this is a photograph I will revisit over and over again and is a portrait of the sort of beauty the Peak District affords if you have the patience to seek it out amongst what can be an almost endless choice of trees…