Autumn is here, and with it comes vibrant colors and long, golden evenings. For photographers, the bright and bold fall colors can transform the surrounding landscapes, presenting photo opportunities to create images that are truly spectacular.
If course, as everyone knows, autumn’s also a time for storms, chilly weather, and freezing rain! Capturing images in these images can test the resolution of even the most dedicated photographer. Still, this time of year has much to offer in terms of exciting opportunities.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few tips for capturing autumn landscapes before they go. Remember, these vibrant colors won’t last long!
Location is, quite simply everything. Fortunately, for those looking for amazing fall landscapes, you don’t usually have to venture too far to find good vantage points. Here are a few places you might consider for your next shoot.
1. Among the Trees
Without a doubt, autumn is one of the best times of year for capturing trees. When photographing trees, remember to take some time to compose your images, and look for things that can lead your eye through the scene, such as foot paths or fallen trees. When going for a walk through the forest, be sure to look up as well as down to find different textures and rich colors that you might otherwise overlook.
2. Near a Body of Water
The reflections of fall colors on the surface of water can add something special to your images, while waterfalls tend to turn a fascinating muddy color due to all of the rain during this time of year. Use a fast shutter speed and a tripod to freeze the reflection on the smooth surface, or using a slower shutter speed to blur the movement of a waterfall or the surface of choppy water, creating a more abstract image. Don’t forget your ND filter. It’ll help you to capture those long exposures.
3. In the Mountains
Perhaps one of the best ways to take it all in is by getting up high. Going up on top of a hill or mountain, will give you a great vantage point from which you can capture some of the vibrant colors of fall. It’ll also give you a much grander perspective; allowing you to capture fall in all of its finery.
4. At the Coast
If you can, heading to the coast for some autumn shots could leave you with some breathtaking images. While you might not find much foliage, the storms during this time of year can be truly remarkable. Combined with the low sun and clouds, the result could be some rewarding images.
Now, let’s look at a few practical pointers for getting the most out of your images this fall.
1. Think About Your Compositions
As tempting as it might be, don’t try to include everything. Attempting to fit it all in will make for a busy image. Instead, try to photography a small piece of the landscape that’s captured your attention. Or, get down low to include some interesting foreground to add a sense of depth to an image.
2. Get Your Exposure Right
When using matrix metering, your camera’s default mode, make sure you check the histogram to make sure there are no highlights that are being blown out. You may need to dial in some exposure compensation to either increase or decrease your saturation.
3. Look for the Light
When it comes to autumn landscapes, sunlight is only usually desirable only early and late –the time of day when it’s more side lighting than overhead. Overcast days may sound counterintuitive, but they’ll result in soft, even lighting, and will improve the saturation of the autumn colors.
4. Avoid White Skies
In most cases, you’ll want to avoid endless expanses of white sky in your images. Instead, look to include more foreground when the sky is a flat uninteresting sheet of white. If the sky is dramatic or features any interesting cloud formations, though, you can frame your image so that more of the sky is in your photo.
5. Watch the Weather
During the autumn, the weather isn’t always as ideal. There is plenty of rain and fog, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. The weather can be used to your advantage when it comes to creating dramatic autumn landscapes. Capturing frost in your landscape can help convey the feeling that the crisp autumn days are giving way to winter. The morning mist can also add a sense of mystery or intrigue to your images. Keep an eye out for autumn storms! Sometimes the sky can be especially dramatic just before, or after a storm.
6. Capture Autumn Bokeh
Bokeh and autumn seem to go hand in hand. While you can create bokeh anytime of the year, the colors of autumn can make for some fantastic bokeh. For best results, try going out in the morning or evening on a sunny day. The low light and warm colors will make a fantastic setting for your images.
7. Work With the Wind
Autumn is a time of gusts and wind, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t capture some exciting images. Instead, try to work with the wind to create amazing images. When faced with falling leaves, branches swaying in the wind, or dramatic clouds moving across the sky – consider slowing down your shutter speed and gently blurring the motion to create a beautiful, artistic scene.
One of the best ways to find amazing autumn landscapes and scenes is to simply go exploring. Check out new places, and revisit places you haven’t been for a while. Consider heading to familiar places too. Everything looks different in the fall; colors are brighter, sunsets more intense, and wildlife behaves differently as well. This season brings a number of different photo opportunities!
Finally, don’t forget to actually pack up and head out! Some of your best shots await! Autumn comes just once a year, so be sure to enjoy it.