Gorgeous Pictures to Celebrate the Arrival of Fall

With vivid hues and falling leaves, the autumn equinox and the ensuing change in seasons invites creative inspiration.

There is an interlude when the languid days of summer blend into the crisp days of fall. The trees still have their leaves and the ground is still green but everything is in a state of quiet change. Autumn was when National Geographic photographer Michael Melford took a picture of a fiery orange maple tree 40 years ago and decided to become a photographer, and remains his favorite time of year to shoot. (Learn more about equinoxes.)

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Maple trees, 1977

He travels light when heading into the woods—two camera bodies, three lenses, and a tripod. “I like the rule of not having a preconceived idea,” he says, “but to go out empty and let whatever happens fill me up.” Melford’s stunning images of autumnal landscapes are the product of time—researching weather, sunrises, sunsets, and moon phases in advance, and then being open to serendipitous moments as they unfold. “Give yourself more time and get to know an area,” he says, ”then keep going back.”

In summing up his approach to photography, he quotes legendary American photographer Edward Weston: “Give me peace and an hour’s time and I create.”

Michael Melford has photographed 18 stories for National Geographic magazine. You can see more of his work on his website and follow him on Instagram.

What is an Equinox? What are equinoxes? What causes these astronomical events? Find out how they influence the seasons and hours of daylight on each planet.