Strong Autumn Light

Strong light contrasts in the autumn countryside with sihouetted trees and cattle with long shadows

November sun can be bright and strong creating highlighted patches, long dark shadows, and strong contrasts that are visually stunning but difficult to photograph. These are some of my attempts to capture the light effects on yesterday afternoon’s walk in the Dorset countryside.

Arable Fields in Autumn

The countryside is always changing. Not only with the natural seasonal variations but also with the cyclical nature of arable farming. In late October on Charlton Down when the trees and hedges were fast losing their leaves, some fields still bore rows of stubble from a late harvest of crops while others were vibrant green with new growth from an early autumn sowing of cereals.

A Dismal Autumn Day in Charlton Down

Everyone likes crisp autumn days with sun shining and vibrant colours of changing leaves and ripening fruits everywhere. Often it is just not like that. Damp and muggy. Dull overcast skies. Dead, diseased, and dying reminders of the passage of time. It can be difficult to find something to brighten the scene, lighten the mood, a reason to be cheerful. It was like that yesterday as I walked around the village with my camera. This is what I recorded before completing my circuit, feeling better for the exercise and fresh air regardless of the dull and dismal day.

Cerne Summer Riverside

The river banks along the Cerne near Charlton Down are almost impenetrable with thick mid-summer vegetation, dominated by the pink flowers of Great Willow Herb and the invasive Himalayan Balsam, as the adjacent fields have been stripped bare and ploughed after the barley harvest.

Spring Fields in Charlton Down

Field boundary hedgerows and tree dividing fields of yellow flowering oilseed rape crop

The countryside around Charlton Down this April is a landscape of rolling hills covered by a brightly coloured patchwork of flowering oilseed rape fields contrasting with spring wheat, each patch separated from the next by boundaries of ancient field hedgerows and trees with branches just springing into life.

Fields of yellow oilseed rape crop growing around the Dorset village of Charlton Down in the English countryside

Green and yellow springtime fields in the Dorset landscape, England.

Contrasting fields of green wheat and yellow rapeseed flowers

Hedgerow and tree separating fields of yellow flowering oilseed rape in the English countryside

Rural view from a wooded valley of yellow flowering rapeseed on the hillside

Rural springtime view in the Dorset landscape

Farming country around Charlton Down in spring

Field boundary hedgerows and tree dividing fields of yellow flowering oilseed rape crop

Changes with the seasons – The Stile

Rural view with stile in summer on the Cerne Valley Trail, Dorset, England.

I’ve been recording the changes that come with season and weather as I walk along the Cerne Valley Trail in Dorset, England. The horse chestnut tree by the stile in these photographs is a convenient marker to illustrate the transition from bare branches of winter to full foliage in summer. Already, by September, the leaves are turning brown getting ready to fall. It is not only the tree that shows the changes but the ground cover vegetation, and the crops in the fields.

Evening Walk at Charlton Down

Stile by an old horse chestnut tree on the Cerne Valley footpath

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 1 – A stile by an old horse chestnut tree on the Cerne Valley footpath near Charlton Down seen in fading evening light.

Everything looks different on a country walk seen in late evening light. Budding horse chestnut trees with fast-opening sticky buds and crumpled new leaves are silhouetted against the clear moonlit sky. White blackthorn blossoms in the hedgerows and rows of cut maize stubble reflect the last rays of the sun. Blue-green shoots of spring wheat can still be made out in the fields as the sun disappears; and trees by the stream retain a faint glow when the sun finally goes down. In the quiet of the dusk, the burbling of the river mingles with birdsong and the dark surface water riffles and eddies over beds of water crowfoot as it makes its way downstream.

Opening sticky buds of a horse chestnut tree catching the last rays of sunlight

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 2 – Opening sticky buds of a horse chestnut tree catching the last rays of sunlight along the Cerne valley Trail near Charlton Down.

Maize stubble in late evening light

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 3 – A patch of maize stubble glows in the last of the light in a field by the Cerne valley Trail near Charlton Down.

Stile in a hedgerow leading from pasture to wheat field

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 4 – A rural scene of a stile in a hedgerow leading from pasture to wheat field in the Dorset countryside

View of spring wheat field and hedgerow at dusk

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 5 – View of spring wheat field and hedgerow at dusk in the English countryside

Blackthorn blossoms in an English hedgerow glowing in the light of the evening sun

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 6 – Blackthorn blossoms in an English hedgerow glowing in the light of the evening sun

Thin twigs of blackthorn with blossoms viewed against the night sky with moon

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 7 – Thin twigs of blackthorn with blossoms at the top of the hedgerow viewed against the night sky with rising moon.

Field of spring wheat just as the sun disappears below the horizon

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 8 – The details of a field of spring wheat can still be made out as the sun disappears below the horizon along the Cerne Valley Trail.

New shoots of spring wheat

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 9 – The blue-green blades of new shoots of spring wheat can still be discerned in the fading light along the Cerne valley Trail.

River view just as the sun goes down

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 10 – View of the River Cerne looking upstream just as the sun goes down. The tracery of branches in the tree bending over the river still retains a tinge of golden light from the setting sun.

Dark swirling waters of a river at dusk

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 11 – The surface texture of the water in the River Cerne at dusk seems dark and intense.

Dark swirling waters of a river at dusk

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 12 – The dark swirling waters of a the River Cerne at dusk seem to bubble and boil as they flow over Ranunculus beds.

Dark swirling waters of a river at dusk

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 13 – Dark swirling waters of a the River Cerne at dusk form small whirlpools and eddies as the flow hits the bends

Bare branches of horse chestnut tree with leaf buds against an evening sky with moon

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 14 – Bare branches of horse chestnut tree with leaf buds against an evening sky with the rising moon

Folded horse chestnut leaves emerging from a sticky bud

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 15 – Folded horse chestnut leaves emerging from a sticky bud

Leaves unfurling from a horse chestnut sticky bud

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 16 – Leaves unfurling from a horse chestnut sticky bud.

Bare branches of a horse chestnut tree with opening leaf buds silhouetted against the late evening sky

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 17 – Bare branches of a horse chestnut tree with opening leaf buds silhouetted against the late evening sky

Opening leaves on a horse chestnut tree viewed in silhouette against the clear sky at dusk

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 18 – Opening leaves on a horse chestnut tree viewed in silhouette against the clear sky at dusk along the Cerne Valley Trail near Charlton Down