From “The Arrival of Fall” by Lauren Springer in The Writer in the Garden by Jane Garmey:
“Autumn is a time when warm color and rustling sounds resonate throughout the plant world….
“The sun arcs lower in the sky, softening and burnishing the light. All colors seem to emanate an inner warmth as if the heat of the summer were stored within them. The most mundane scenes — an empty concrete basketball court alive with whirling, windblown leaves, a chocolate-brown field spiked with tawny corn stubble — take on the qualities of gold leaf, the light of a Venetian Renaissance painting.
“The lower sun also creates lovely lighting effects…. While in summer it would be suppertime before any similar effect might be possible, now mid- and late afternoon becomes a time for backlit drama. Grass panicles glisten and shimmer when touched by the slanted light; foliage reds and golds are intensified as the sun passes through them; fragile petals resemble halos given this autumnal spotlight.”
The photos in this first gallery were taken along Cherokee Avenue. In the last four images, a bright mid-day sun had made its appearance, so these and the remaining photos in this post gave me another opportunity to play in the light, like I like to do, and learn more about dealing with brightly lit landscapes.
On the map of the park above, you can see Zoo Atlanta toward the bottom, and just above that a series of connected walking paths in the center. The photos in this next gallery are from that section. With the first three, the sun was behind me and created a lot of shadows in the scene, with additional shadow from a towering tree whose trunk you can see — especially in the first image — on the left. The orange/red maple at the center of the scene was barely visible (from this shaded point of view) yet its color was so nice I wanted to try and capture it anyway. Here’s what the first image looked like out of the camera:
By patiently manipulating shadows, whites, and highlights in Lightroom a bit at a time, I was able to make the hidden tree at the center the main subject of this image and the next two, and add some color to pop both the leaves on that tree and the carpet of leaves in the foreground.
With the remaining images in this gallery, the sun was facing me from behind the trees, creating nice glowing backlighting, adjusted in Lightroom to eliminate excessive highlights and retain detail and color. When viewing these in a slideshow, select “View Full Size” if you want to see the detail I was able to capture and keep.
I took the photos in this last gallery deeper into the park toward Zoo Atlanta. Here again the sun was nearly directly behind the trees (imagine it just outside the frame, to the left of each scene). Of all the photos from this year’s autumn projects, these were the most challenging to adjust in Lightroom, the challenge stemming from the high contrast between dark shadows and very bright backlighting.
I’ve experimented with different kinds of lighting with many of the photos in this series, but with these I had to take frequent breaks during post-processing because the high brightness and contrast would seem to create afterimages in my eyes as I made adjustments. How weird was that! Still, one of my goals was to work with lighting that was a bit extreme — even if I wasn’t successful — to see what I could come up with. I don’t know what technical “rules” photos like this might violate, but in the end I was reasonably satisfied with the results … so here they are! Once again, try viewing the photos at full size from the slideshow so you can see the level of detail I was able to capture and retain.
The trees in this last gallery above, especially with the backlighting, looked very much like they were decorated with Christmas lights. At least it seemed that way as I wandered among the leaves to get to a good vantage point. A fitting end to this series, I think, as we transition from autumn to winter and the holiday season. Stay tuned for photos of shiny objects and glittery whatnots!
My earlier autumn 2019 photo mash-ups, and a few other posts with new fall color photos, are here:
Thanks for reading and taking a look!