Lakey column: The color of fall

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 20, 2011

By Jon C. Lakey
The recent cold front that moved through the area last Friday foreshadows things to come. The Rowan County Fair has begun with all its sights and smells. Last Friday night’s football games were a good chance for many students to wear their letter jackets and cover up in blankets as the guys slugged it out on the lined grassy field. Hunters are finally able to start getting back to the field as their game seasons begin to open. This coming Friday marks the official start of autumn.
Inevitably, in a few short weeks, the leaves of maples, ginkgos and other trees will begin to make their final, colorful statement before the cold winds of winter move in. On a day when the humidity is very low, the bright reds and yellows are perfectly contrasted against the clear blue skies. If you remember your days in art class, blue, red and yellow form a triangle of complementary colors. This explains why the scene is always so striking.
When traveling out this fall to capture photographs of the leaves, there are a few things that could help make your images more striking. One particular item that can greatly improve the color of your images is a polarizer filter. The polarizer filter has been used in photography for years for its ability to knock off reflections on shiny objects. Most photographers are aware of polarizer filter’s ability to absorb the lightwaves that reduce clarity and saturation of colors. Several of these photographs have been shot through a polarizer filer. It is evident by the unusually dark skies and the extra saturation of colors.
Time of day is another point of to be a aware of when photographing leaves. From the break of dawn to about one hour after and from one hour before sunset is what is often referred to as the “golden” hour of photography. This does not just apply to leaves but anything you care to photograph. Next time you flip through a National Geographic magazine, count how many photos were taken during this specific time of day.
The last point will be the backgrounds. Objects in the background can change the mood of your photographs. A couple of my photos include elements that are common to Rowan County: a moving freight train, a church and schoolhouse, for example. These items can bring extra meaning and connects the photograph to us in some internal way.
A little research showed that color photography was introduced in the modern film era more than 75 years ago, in 1935. That means most of us have grown up seeing image upon image of brightly colored leaves. It’s hard to believe that something so commonplace, still makes one pick up a camera and capture it. I wonder why. No, I don’t.