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The Landscape Photographer's Calendar

The Landscape Photographer's Calendar: what to shoot in November

Posted: 22 Oct 2018

Tony Worobiec is a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and one of our Fotospeed photographers. He has won awards for photography both in the UK and internationally, and has authored 16 books. In this blog post, adapted from his RPS workshop, "The Landscape Photographers Calendar", Tony tells you what to look out for in November. Tony uses Fotospeed's Platinum Baryta and Platinum Matt.

You can find out more about Tony here.

November is another of those "in-between" periods, although it is still possible to capture some autumnal colour, particularly within the first two weeks of the month – this image was taken in the New Forest in the south of England. When we get into the third and fourth weeks of November however, the last vestiges of autumn will have disappeared and yet we are still to experience winter.

The best way to approach this month is firstly to consider the nature of the lighting you are likely to encounter, which tends to be low and moody. Second, use this period as an opportunity to photograph landscape locations you would not normally visit. As I have suggested before, if we are to make the best of "landscape photography", we need to expand our definition of what we mean by it. November is no different from any other month insofar as it offers us a range of awesome photographic opportunities.


Shooting contre-jour

Back-lit shots can be taken at any time of the year, however as the light is low throughout the month of November (it is worth noting that you are only weeks away from the shortest day), it is a great time to indulge in this particular genre of photography. The joy of photographing contre-jour is that it works well in sunshine, but also when it is cloudy. Selecting a suitable subject is rarely a problem – essentially all you need is something that silhouettes well against a light sky, generally the more delicate the subject the better. The other key ingredient when shooting contre -jour is a very light foreground – a  simple stretch of water or a sandy beach works extremely well. Finally, backlit subjects rarely convey colour, so it is another one of those situations where you might consider working in monochrome.


Photographing woodland in the rain

One of the main reasons so many photographers fail to exploit the potential November has to offer is because it's often rainy and grey. Looking out of the window it is easy to convince yourself there is little point, but shooting in the rain can be rewarding. This woodland shot was taken just a 100 yards from a lodge where I was staying, and whilst it was drizzling steadily, I decided to use my 100-400 zoom. This was partially due to the fact it allowed me to zoom into the part of the landscape that caught my eye, but also because it has a very deep lens-hood which helped to keep moisture off the front element. What can prove attractive about these conditions is that whilst the colours in the foreground are beautifully saturated, the constant rain creates an evocative, misty effect in the middle distance, offering an interesting contrast. As an added bonus the delicate twigs in the foreground appear "bejewelled" by the droplets of rain.


Iconic buildings

As I suggested in the introduction, once you loosen your definition of "landscape", you open the door to all sorts of other possibilities. With the early evenings, I find November the perfect time to photograph many of our iconic buildings, and they don't get much more iconic than Salisbury Cathedral. What greatly helps is that so many of our fine buildings are fabulously illuminated, adding to their appeal. The best time to capture a building like this is in "cross-over lighting" (a technique I explained in last month's blog). At this time of year, the ideal time to attempt something like this is between 4.30pm and 5.00pm. Another advantage of photographing buildings in November is that you will encounter fewer people, making your task considerably easier. From a technical standpoint, avoid standing too close to a street-lamp, otherwise you might encounter flare.


Photographing Industry

Industry is another subject that can be especially appealing throughout the month of November. When photographed in daylight, these strange locations look dull and uninspiring, but if you shoot them at dusk when they are illuminated, they appear visually transformed. Access to these places isn't easy, which is why I would recommend using a long telephoto lens – there will always be a viewpoint which will give you open access. If you are fortunate to have an interesting location closer to home, you will already know of good vantage points you can use. This shot is of Tees-port on the North-East coast, taken from a road that runs parallel to the river, but locations such as this can be found near any of our ports or large harbours. If you are using a long lens, the only hazard you need to be wary of is buffeting side-winds that can easily ruin your shot.


Remember, remember the 5th of November

Bonfire Night, what a fabulous opportunity for photography. If you have never done this sort of thing before, I would certainly recommend using a tripod. If you are aiming for a "reportage" style of photography, then visiting a domestic bonfire might prove your best bet, but if you are seeking something more spectacular, try photographing a large, organised event instead. It will be crowded, so get to your location early. Once the display starts, the fireworks come thick and fast, but it is worth noting that all these displays finish with a dramatic crescendo, so then isn’t the time to change memory cards. The length of the exposure is critical: if it is too fast, you will capture very little, but if you leave it on too long there is a danger of over-exposure. Set your camera to speed priority, select 8 seconds and you will not be disappointed.

Want more ideas on how to improve your photography and prints? Check out the rest of our blog, or get in touch to see how Fotospeed can help!


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