Thinking Ahead to Photographing Fall Landscapes


This time of year I always begin thinking about photographing fall landscapes. As of yet the colours aren’t really how I want them, everything is still hot and dry. I think I’ll be waiting the better part of a month for the changing leaves and landscape before venturing up into the mountains just a short drive north of my home in Pritchard, British Columbia

Books, especially those written by photographers, easily seduce me. I am in the mood for what is going to be weeks of fun colourful photography anyway. So when I walked by the well-worn copy of my favourite scenic photographer/writer, Eliot Porter’s book on landscapes I decided to thumb through it.

Porter’s book, “Intimate Landscapes,” will always get me thinking about taking time to visit some of the many picturesque locations in my part of the world and even though the book by Porter features photographs in north-western New Mexico and south-eastern Utah, it is filled with photographs that inspire me.

I have mentioned him before, but for those readers that don’t remember my past comments on this man, or those that aren’t familiar with him, the following is a quote from this book. “The natural world has always attracted my eye: associations of living and inanimate phenomena, from the tropics to the poles and from rain forests to deserts, have been favourite photographic subjects for almost half a century.  Grasses and sedges, especially, appeal to me – an appeal like disordered hair across a face, or a windblown field of hay before the mowing. When associated with water, as sedges so often are, the magic of restlessness is enhanced by reflections not foreseen. In mixed woods of pine and maple, the needles of pines drop throughout the year, building jackstraw mats of thin brown bundles on which, at the time of the fall of the leaf, the bright maple leaves settle at random, arranging themselves in harmonious patterns that defy improvement as though placed there intentionally.”

Reading this book or any other on photography for that matter, helps me examine the way I make photographs, and encourages me to try photographing landscapes differently.

Although I like to plan my photographic excursions and am apt to stand looking at a scene for a while before releasing my camera’s shutter, (The reason I like using a tripod is because it slows me down.) I do think photographic ideas and opportunities sometimes happen in a moment that once has passed will never be the same and I release the shutter for no other reason than it is fun to try photographing that scene.

Here is another quote from Porter’s book that I like.  Porter says, “I do not photograph for ulterior purposes.  I photograph for the thing itself – for the photograph – without consideration of how it may be used.  Some critics suggest that I make photographs primarily to promote conservation, but this allegation is far from the truth. Although my photographs may be used in this way, it is incidental to my original motive for making them, which is first of all for personal aesthetic satisfaction.”

Sometimes just the process of making a photograph for no other reason than doing it is enough and I have friends that regularly show me all types of pictures that are just made because they enjoy the medium of photography.  Photography, in this era of high tech digital images, has become so very easy. However, in my opinion, good photography is as time consuming as it ever has been, requiring practice and education.

I am hoping for a long, cool fall here in the interior of British Columbia with lots of colour. I’ll be driving to Wells Gray Park in the upcoming month. The environment of Wells Gray, although very diverse from the scenic locations in Porter’s book, has many of the features that I am sure would have appealed to him and if you have a moment check out landscape photographer Eliot Porter in your local library or on-line, and hopefully his photographs will inspire you as he does me.

PS, the two pictures are from last year…I’ll soon have some for this year…..

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