Fall Photography Tips

September 08, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Summer is officially coming to an end and fall is just around the corner. The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping. Personally, I am very much a summer person who considers temperatures below 20 degrees to be physical assault, but even for people like me the fall season does have its upsides as well. It is the perfect season to take some memorable photos with vivid and vibrant colors. Getting out there is really worth it as you will be rewarded with amazing photos. Since the time frame you are working with is rather limited, though, you might want to do your homework now and be prepared to head out into the field as soon as the first leaves start to change their colors. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

River Danube Colors, colors, colors

Fall comes in an endless range of colors. All the different shades of red, yellow, orange, gold and green almost guarantee amazing photos. Opposing colors create dramatic contrasts, so bear that in mind when framing your photos. For instance, a bright yellow tree will look even more vibrant when photographed in front of a blue sky. Using a polarizing filter increases contrast and intensifies colors. You might also want to play with the White Balance settings a little because Auto mode won’t always yield the best results. To give your photos a "warmer" feel you might also want to try increasing the color temperature a notch (not too much, though) or select a preset mode like “cloudy” or “sunny” that better fits the conditions you are dealing with. You can also try underexposing your shots a wee bit. That will give your photos a deeper saturation. Much of this can also be done during post-processing (provided you’re shooting in RAW), but it never hurts to get things right the first time.

 

Mirror reflections

Fall colors reflected in a pond or a lake create almost impressionistic scenes and add a very peaceful and soothing quality to the photo. Early morning normally is the best time to achieve great results as the water is still and light is smooth. But even ripples in the water are not always a bad thing. They will add a more abstract feel to the photo. Try to keep the photo from becoming static by including rocks or logs in your composition. Also try to avoid direct light on the water because that causes a glare (of course, polarizing filters can help with that).

 

Keeping things in perspective

Instead of keeping your eyes fixated on what is right in front of you, look around every once in a while. You may be surprised by what you will find. Turn your head up against the sky (mind your step, though, you don’t want to break your neck). The yellow and golden trees often create exciting contrasts when photographed against a blue sky. You might also want to get creative with different lenses like a fisheye or wide angle as they too create very interesting visual effects. Turn your eyes to the ground and get down on your knees to get the worm’s view (you are going to get dirty, so you might want to leave your designer jeans at home for this). Fallen leaves are a great potential subject for macro shots (especially on overcast days). In the early morning hours after a brisk night you can sometimes find them covered with bizarre looking ice crystals. Using a tripod is vital for these kinds of shots because you will be working in low light conditions with long exposures and even the slightest movement will cause your photo to become blurry.

 

Timing is everything

The early morning hours or late afternoon will normally provide the best light for fall photos. The colors will be accentuated and become even more vibrant. Don't hide away in your living room on overcast or moist days, though. These days often offer wonderful opportunities to captures some brilliant photos as well as the shadows are smoother and the sun doesn’t drown out the colors. Fog and morning dew also create a very unique atmosphere and provide wonderful opportunities for striking compositions.

 

Some amazing galleries to get you inspired:

http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/photos/autumn-colors

http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=449

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2012/oct/22/autumn-colours-in-pictures

http://10steps.sg/inspirations/photography/25-beautiful-and-amazingly-colorful-autumn-photos/


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