autumn leaf on Kaffe’s muzzle

The EOS RP and the lighting of the changing seasons

As summer turns to autumn, the golden age of northern photographers begins. Cold nights turn into magical misty mornings, autumn colours the landscape and the first aurora borealis illuminate the night sky. The compact full-frame EOS RP is the perfect travel companion for capturing the colours of autumn.

Harri Tarvainen is a professional photographer specialising in outdoors and action photography. Together with his Insta-famous, curly-coated retriever Kaffe, they hike in nature and take great photos. You can follow Kaffe’s adventures on his Instagram account @kaffegram. You can also check out Kaffe and Harri's five tips for pet photography and urban action photography.


“Kaffe jumps up against me in Utsjoki, the northernmost corner in Finland, while the tent is warming up in the evening sun. The night will probably get cold. You may not see it in the picture, but in my hand I’m holding a phone that controls my camera that I set further away on the ground. Having a Wi-Fi connection lets me take action-packed selfies!”

Autumn offers unique natural phenomena, much to the delight of photographers. At this time of year, the sun sets earlier and you don’t need to wait until late at night for a sunset picture. Autumn has long been my favourite season – or at least one of my four favourite seasons!

camera and a coffee pan

We’ve formed a habit of going on an autumn trip to say goodbye to the summer. One last excursion before winter begins, and it’s time to dig out the snowboards, skis and other winter equipment from storage. When hiking, all gear goes in the backpack and I have to think carefully about what I’m able to carry with me. Once, on an autumn trip, I considered for a long time whether I should take a wide-angle lens or a delicious microbrew beer with me. The evening was filled with magnificent aurora borealis that I would have loved to have photographed with a wide-angle lens but, instead, I enjoyed my beer by the fire!

For a longer hike, I only take one lens with me. The obvious choice with the EOS RP is the f/4 aperture zoom lens with the focal range of 24-105mm. I use it to capture wide landscapes but I can also zoom in when needed, for example for impressive portraits. However, on this trip I wanted to try a fixed lens. When zooming is no longer an option, the photographer has to move more to find their preferred angle and distance.

autumn leaf on Kaffe’s muzzle

The Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS MACRO STM lens is a classic choice for street photographers, travellers and documentarians. The fast f/1.8 maximum aperture makes it easy to shoot in low light, and by controlling the depth of field you can take impressive portraits – although a relatively wide lens forces the photographer close to the subject. Of course, you can also get close by using the macro feature.

I often photograph the autumn-coloured leaves directly with backlight. When the sun illuminates the leaves from behind, they become like sources of light. The impression is enhanced if you get darker shadows behind the leaves. Under such conditions, I often use slight underexposure which results in the brighter colours being highlighted. The same tip works when photographing sunsets! For this picture, I placed a bright red leaf on Kaffe’s nose and took a photo with direct backlight from between the tree branches. When photographing with a large aperture, I was able to focus the depth of field on the leaf and blur the background into beautiful light beads.

morning mist

After a frosty night, the water is calm and mist is floating above the surface. As the sun rises above the horizon, the first rays colour the mist golden. The blades of grass are still frosty in the shade but the areas where the sunlight reaches them have melted. When the temperature rises even a few degrees, soon the mist and magical light will be gone.

One of the most important tips for capturing nature while hiking is to be on the move at the right time. Kaffe is sleepy at home, but when travelling and sleeping in a tent, he often wants to start the day when the sun rises. Many magical moments would have gone by without Kaffe’s early wake-up calls!

aurora borealis

If autumn offers magical mornings, then evenings are just as good. As the evenings grow dark, the aurora borealis arrive, and checking the aurora forecast becomes an evening routine. In addition to a camera, a tripod is the most important piece of equipment when photographing the Northern Lights. When using long exposures, even the darkest lights of the night become visible. Night photography is best done in manual shooting mode, which allows you to determine both the aperture and shutter speed. You can try setting the aperture to f/4.0 (or larger if the lens is brighter) with a shutter speed of 20 seconds and ISO 2000 sensitivity and see what you can find in the night sky.

If the images are too dark, increase the shutter speed. If the images are too light, you can decrease the sensitivity to ISO 800, for example. It’s a lot easier to photograph in the dark with a wide, luminous lens and a camera that can withstand even higher sensor sensitivity and has an effective focus in low light. These features are provided by the EOS RP system, but you still need to pack your headlamp in your backpack to make it easier to work in the dark.

In the following story, I will focus more on night photography and hunting for the aurora borealis!