October Light

But I am glad for the luck
of light. Surely it is godly,
that it makes all things
begin, and appear, and become
actual to each other.

— from “October” by May Swenson

There is a distinct quality to October sunlight. A softer radiance than the harshness in summertime, scenes glow with an amber or honeyed hue, especially in the morning hours. Below is a series of photographs by Carol M. Highsmith taken in outdoor locations throughout the continental U.S. that exhibit the quality of October’s light:

Rural barn scene in Suffield, Connecticut.

Rural barn scene in Suffield, Connecticut. Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, October 2011. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.19605

Rural Colorado.

Rural Colorado. Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, October 8, 2006. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.04442

Scenic view of shore, La Jolla, California.

Scenic view of shore, La Jolla, California. Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, October 28, 2009. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.04670

Warehouse in Hartford, Connecticut.

Warehouse in Hartford, Connecticut. Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, October 2011. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.19879

Rural Desert, Arizona.

Rural Desert, Arizona. Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, October 8, 2006. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.04947

Mississippi River in Natchez, Mississippi. Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, October 10, 2008. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.04385

Mississippi River in Natchez, Mississippi. Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, October 10, 2008. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.04385

Learn More

  • Explore more than 1800 photographs taken in the month of October within the Carol M. Highsmith Archive. Highsmith, a distinguished and richly-published American photographer, has donated her work to the Library of Congress since 1992. Starting in 2002, Highsmith provided scans or photographs she shot digitally with new donations to allow rapid online access throughout the world. The archive which now has more than 30,000 digital images is expected to grow to more than 100,000 photographs covering all of the United States.
  • Dates on historical photographs can be misleading, representing anything from the date the image was taken, copyrighted, or published, to the date it was added to the collection. This series of Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information color photographs relating to farms were assigned October dates by the originating agencies. Have a look and see if you detect that special quality of October light (or other date-specific clues) in them!
Flower farm in West Suffield, Connecticut.

Flower farm in West Suffield, Connecticut. Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, October 2011. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.19365

4 Comments

  1. Larry
    October 5, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    The sweet warmth of October light…so golden and delicious.

  2. Z. Latz
    October 6, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Just an idea…what about accepting submissions for special and interesting photographs taken anywhere in the world ?
    These photos will have thousands of views in 50 years from now.

    Thanks.

  3. Tom
    October 6, 2016 at 9:05 am

    I agree with the October sunlight having it’s wonderful qualities. Too bad it’s once a year and is only approximately a month.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.