Autumn Photography

Deciduous trees are slowing down production (photosynthesis) in readiness for the winter but they seem to burst into life with colour during autumn. This is the time many trees bear us gifts so it is a great time for foraging. Autumn enables me to combine a passion for photography, a love of hiking and a, somewhat spiritual, appreciation of trees as the ancient life that enables our biosphere to live, with oxygen and energy.

I am definitely built for more tropical climates and I have this weird feeling of wanting to just hibernate as winter approaches. I’ve never quite understood why. Maybe I have more active pathways in that primeval part of the brainstem. I have to make an effort to get out this time of year and I’m also conscious of getting enough light. I really didn’t want another autumn to pass me by so despite the cloudy weather, I persuaded my Mum into a trip to Lumdale, near Matlock.


We’d visited Lumsdale back in 2016 and I remember thinking it would be an ideal place for some autumn photography as its waterfall surrounded by deciduous trees. It’s easy to get to – just off the A632 road from Chesterfield to Matlock.

I could picture a slow-shutter shot of the running water surrounded by colourful leaves atop the rocks. We walked down from the car, and both got a few snaps en route, only to find Lumsdale was closed for business. The waterfall was fenced off and a sign mentioned something about erosion. Usually signs and fences don’t present a barrier to me but sadly erosion is the scourge of the Peak District.

I captured the third image of leaves because it seemed to capture, for me, the archetypal autumn colour palette as shown below. I’ll be using this colour palette in some follow-up artwork.

Autumn Colour Palette


It was just midday and I was not satisfied with having a good photo session so we went to up to Monsal head but the area looked quite bleak. We decided to go on to the Chatsworth Estate, calling at the garden centre for a nice lunch (absolutely nothing to do with being able to park there for free). It’s been over two years since I’d written about my intention to return to Chatsworth and take some photos (but we still didn’t visit the house).

It was actually darker than I realised mid-afternoon with such a cloudy day and I was shooting handheld. It was also quite misty and I hadn’t noticed the lens filter was actually wet toward the end. Net result: Not exactly the quality of photography I was hoping for. Lesson: Remember a lens cloth. Actually, the real lesson is to get out on a nice day early autumn.

Trees are social creatures. In fact, woodlands and forests can be thought of as a single organism and scientists proved a few years back that tree communicate with each other via their roots. They used a carbon isotope and saw how mummy trees would share nutrients with their progeny – incredible. That being said, I love trees that are solitary and stand proud on a ridge, contrasting against the sky. Autumn lends itself well to contrasts and there is a nice contrast between a colourless dead standing tree and those around it in a couple of the photos.

My mum took a photo of me. I hate giving my camera to anyone else. It sounds selfish but it is a cumbersome 2 kilos with the lens so I have a fear of it being dropped. I don’t mind candid photos of me but I don’t like posing for photos. Nevertheless I’m proud of myself as this is one of the rare occasions that I am not then frowning in a photo; albeit not smiling either. Shortly after, I did filmed some footage of the River Derwent that runs through the estate.

I’d spotted deer driving through the park as we came in and had given up hope of seeing them again, by the time I went to fetch the car, so was overjoyed when I saw them at the end. They were much more timid than I expected and I couldn’t get close than 50m. I had a superzoom lens but again, shooting handheld in misty conditions, not ideal. I think the deer rutting season in Chatsworth is in October so diarised for a visit next year. I have never seen stags clashing so this would be fantastic to see; and a challenge for photography.

I also managed to get a video of the deer.

All in all, a nice day and I have managed to capture some nice colours and some deer but I think I’ll wander back out again somewhere soon because I still want to capture more of the ‘essence’ of autumn, before it all disappears. (And we need to forage some items for the wreath I made a while back).

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