5 Tips for FABULOUS Fall Photos
With the official start of fall last week, and the weather and leaves changing, fall is definitely in the air. With the season underway, a popular activity in my neck of the woods is to go look for fall colors, and inevitably, photograph them. I LOVE photographing fall colors, and usually take one or two day trips to photograph, hike in, and just enjoy them each year.
I wanted to share some of the tips I follow when I set out to photograph fall colors, and they can be found below. As in other posts, I’m going to assume that you are familiar with using your camera and I'm not spend a lot of time on that aspect. If you are looking for help with certain topics, I will link my other blog posts explaining said topics for you. And as always, if you have questions, feel free to contact me!
So, without further ado, here are 5 tips for FABULOUS fall photos!
1. Plan ahead of time
I think this tip is really important. In order to get great fall photographs, you need to know when the trees are at their peak! The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources releases a ‘typical peak time map’, and then a fall color map that they update almost every day. See that map here. Other states may do the same. I take a look at both these maps in order to plan a day that I am available, and then try to pick a state park that is at peak for fall color. I like taking pictures in state parks because there are usually a wide variety of trails and landscapes.
2. Don’t just focus on the foliage
True, the main attraction of fall is usually the foliage, but there are so many other fun things to keep in mind. Fall is also time for birds and insects to migrate, animals to forage in preparation for winter. Prairies in the fall can be just as beautiful with prairie plants changing colors and late blooming prairie flowers. Mushrooms, acorns, pine cones, seeds (milkweed seeds are particularly beautiful) etc can be found scattered around different landscapes. Brightly colored gourds, pumpkins, apples and corn can be found at farmer’s markets and apple orchards.
3. Angles & Lighting
Play around with different angles and lighting when taking pictures of your fall subjects. Experiment with taking photos during different times of day (during sunrise or sunset, for example). Go out after a rain storm. Catch the light in a leaf. Photograph looking up. Photograph looking down (on a trail, road, etc). Use ‘leading lines’ in your photo such as a road or trail. Photograph a leaf still attached to a tree. Photograph a leaf on the ground. Photograph a reflection of leaves in water. Photograph a leaf floating on water or in ice. Remember to GET CLOSE if taking picture of a single subject. The possibilities are endless. Also, don't forget to turn around from time to time to see what's going on behind you. Here are some examples of the above:
4. Color Contrast
Photographing fall colors provides great opportunities to capture color contrast, which can be incredibly striking. Take for example the picture below. The dark tree trunks are brightly contrasted against the yellow leaves (the road in this picture can also be an example of a leading line). Play around with the different leaf colors, or find leaves on the ground which will stand out sharply against the neutral colored trail, road or ground.
5. Camera Settings
Your camera settings will depend on a variety of factors and you will need to adjust accordingly. Be sure to check your ISO (to avoid graininess in your pictures), white balance (to make sure those fall colors pop!), shutter speed (to reduce motion) and depth of field (to blur the background if taking a macro photo, or making sure everything is in focus if taking a landscape photo).
Besides fall leaves, what is your favorite thing to take pictures of in the fall? What other tips would you add? I’d love to hear about it!
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