I took this photograph of the woods behind the house last Wednesday, November 1. If I were to have parked myself at this location continuously for several days in a row, shooting as many photographs as I possible could, using as many different exposure techniques as I could conjure up, I would end up with a vast collection of images.
I suppose that collectively, you and I could sit down with the images, and reach some kind of conclusion as to which photograph best represented the peak of the seasonal color changes that occur in Autumn here in the Ozarks. We could then look at the EXIF header embedded in the digital image file to see when the photograph was taken, and thus determine with precision the exact date and time of the color peak. Or is it so easy?
Look at just a few of the variables that can affect the outcome of an Autumn photograph, and with it, the judgements that are made with reliance upon our photographic evidence. The weather conditions, along with the time of day greatly affect the natural lighting that we rely on to capture landscape photographs. The film used in the photograph, such as Fuji Velvia 50 or Kodak Kodachrome 100 (or in the case of digital images, the ISO setting and white balance controls of the camera), have a direct affect on the color saturation within the image. The concept of “reciprocity” shows that the combination of f-stop and shutter speeds also play a role in determining the colors that appear in an image.
With these, and many other variables to play with, who is to say that any given photograph represents the peak of fall colors? Perhaps a photograph taken prior to the color peak, but with excellent weather and technique, looks visually superior to a later photograph taken under poor lighting conditions, or with inferior technique. Does that mean that the color peak actually occurred at the time of the superior photograph? No, it doesn’t, and for that reason, we can never really be exactly sure of the exact moment that the Autumn colors have peaked.
Having said all that, I think the colors peaked here last Wednesday, as shown in the photograph above. The photo below was taken one day earlier, on Tuesday, October 31 (and no, for any who may be interested, we did not get any Trick ‘r Treaters).
Since these photographs were taken, we have had a couple of sub-freezing nights, and some rainy, overcast skies. Definitely not the conditions that are favorable for continued color development of the leaves. The red, purple and yellow leaves are quickly turning to shades of brown and rust, or are simply committing “‘leaficide” and leaping from the limbs to their ultimate demise upon the ground below (it is a horrible sight indeed, to see their flattened bodies on the ground, shriveling up and drying out right before your very eyes)….