Signs of Autumn

Leica X1
Leica X1

As someone who would never call themselves a nature photographer, I take an awful lot of what might be called nature photographs. The problem is that I often have no real clue as to what I'm photographing. I don't know the names of flowers or plants beyond the obvious ones and the processes that go on are a mystery to me. However like many photographers I'm fascinated by the colour, contrasts and shapes and react to that, rather than any attempt to record species or document what's actually happening in the natural world.


Leica M9 Zeiss 50mm f2 Planar
Leica M9 Zeiss 50mm f2 Planar


I know these are blackberries.


Leica X1
Leica X1


And this is Rose Bay Willowherb.


Leica M9 Zeiss 50mm f2 Planar
Leica M9 Zeiss 50mm f2 Planar


But the leaves here are unknown to me. As is probably obvious I took the picture to show the contrast in the colours and the first signs of autumn that are starting to appear here.


No matter what we photograph usually, its difficult to resist the pull of what nature creates around us, even if does so in an often chaotic way. David Hockney in a TV programme about his recent Yorkshire paintings made the point that nature isn't tidy or regular. It evolves in a seemingly random way.  Design in nature is something that we try to impose on it. The straight lines and organisation of the landscaped stately home garden are an example of our attempts to  impose a structure and a pattern, by landscaping the countryside. Left to its own devices the natural world would soon revert back to its haphazard state. To me thats the attraction of it. We restrict, trim and even destroy large parts of our natural environment to create our world. Whether we will ever be in total control however is open to question. 


As photographers we will usually look for elements to focus on in the midst of this profusion of growth. Small details that we notice that interest us visually. 


Leica X1
Leica X1


Photographing the natural world, as distinct to landscape photography is not something that I pursue particularly, but if the opportunity presents itself I will attempt to record some of what I see. However I'm always approaching it from a purely instinctive direction with often no real appreciation of what is in the pictures. 


I was intrigued by the spots on these leaves.


Leica X1
Leica X1


Also by these colours and shapes on a gravestone.


Leica X1
Leica X1


I have no real understanding of what has caused either of these things to happen, but I was attracted by them.


No matter how urban our lifestyles, it seems that we can be seduced by what nature produces. You don't get much more urban than Robert Mapplethorpe whose pictures, including his infamous "body studies" couldn't be further away from the natural world. Yet his flower pictures, even though produced in a studio, show a photographers fascination with what nature can create. 


In the midst of all this focusing on the micro world I managed to get one landscape shot I was pleased with.


Leica X1
Leica X1 Multi Image Panoramic Stitch.


It had been a very wet day. Finally it stopped raining and having been "imprisoned" by the weather for so long I managed to break out and take some photographs. I saw this mountainous cloud and wanted to photograph it with the field and gate at the bottom of the picture. I decided to do this by shooting multi-images and then combining them together later. There was a huge difference in the exposure values between the grass (which wasn't sunlit) and the white of the cloud. I realised that my usual practice of locking the exposure wouldn't work as there was no way that I could get a single exposure that would record all the separate pictures accurately. I took the unusual step of photographing each image using the cameras (Leica X1) automatic reading. However I did set the aperture manually to f8 and the camera adjusted the shutter speeds accordingly. This rendered each individual image accurate. However I had no idea whether the images would blend together. The first thing that I did when I returned home was run these images through photomerge in Photoshop and much to my surprise it produced this result which was what I hoped it would look like but certainly not what I expected. Whether this is a one-off or whether I will be able to reproduce this again I will have to see. If the software can cope this well with different exposures then it will be very useful.


Words - D
Images - D & A