In Search of Autumn (2023)
Capturing the beauty of a diverse season
Hey everyone! How's it going?
Autumn surprised me this year.
I was worried the constant gloom that has lingered throughout summer would prove similarly challenging during the autumn months.
Instead, my photography journey turned out to be surprisingly diverse and full of vibrant moments. Whereas the conditions meant I didn’t get the morning mist and inversions I was hoping for, the lemons of gloom the weather threw at me resulted in a veritable fountain of lemonade.
Let me share the highlights of this unique season with you.
Embracing Autumn's mood and atmosphere
To be fair, Autumn is known for its damp and gloomy days, perfect for capturing mood, atmosphere, and a touch of magic in photography.
After several summer months of similar grey conditions though, you do hope for something different. Thankfully, Autumn offered some striking displays of color during the few cloud-free days.
Allen Banks looking resplendent as the low autumn sun pierced through the valley with the waters of the River Allen subsiding just enough to create the perfect amount of white water as it flowed over the lip. After weeks of seemingly endless grey days, this explosion of colour was dazzling.
weathering the storms
The beginning of the season brought unexpected challenges.
A storm chase around the North Yorks Moors almost ended in tragedy when my windscreen wipers failed during a core punch. And a hike up the Simonside Hills in Northumberland to capture the vibrant swathes of heather turned into a midge infested hike in a downpour where the path turned to a river.
Yet, amidst the turmoil, a thrilling encounter with Storm Babet at Tynemouth Priory showcased the spectacular crashing of waves against lighthouses, adding a unique dimension to my autumn photography.
The prolonged rainfall from Storm Babet and other rain-bearing systems transformed rivers and waterfalls, creating wondrous scenes at Summerhill Force, Birkey Burn, Routin Linn and Wharnley Burn. High Force, shrouded in mist, provided a mystical backdrop for vibrant autumn colors against the grey landscape.
The end of September was dominated by the hunt for ancient trees and mourning the loss of an icon.
In hope and preparation for the misty mornings ahead that never materialised, I explored local forests in search of withered and wizened old trees. Holystone Forest bore fruit in the form of ancient twisted oaks and coppiced nightmare fuel.
Sadly, late in September, we all learned that the iconic Sycamore tree that had sat on Hadrian's Wall for centuries had been felled in act of malice. More than "just a tree", it was a beacon; a symbol that held different meaning for different people around the globe and its deliberate felling brought considerable outrage.
Earlier in the month, unbeknownst at the time, I had one last moment with this beloved landmark. In hindsight, I can't help but think how poignant and foreshadowing these images are as the sun goes down on it one last time.
nature's own fireworks
The cherry on the icing on the cake came at the beginning of November. Before the fireworks lit up the sky, nature treated me to its own spectacular show with an incredible aurora display on Guy Fawkes Night. This celestial event added a magical touch to Autumn 2023's diverse offerings.
Even in the twilight, the aurora was clearly visible to the naked eye such was its strength.
Once fully dark, the display was immense and by some margin the best I'd ever seen.
As I look back on this incredibly varied season, I realize that Autumn may not have delivered what I initially sought, but it certainly provided what I needed. Despite missing some anticipated moments like inversions and additional storms, the breadth of my captures has given me a unique and intimate portfolio. As I contemplate the upcoming winter, I'm filled with excitement about the possibilities ahead in my photography journey.
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