For those of us that live in the northern hemisphere, fall is rapidly approaching. Many photographers relish this time of year, and with good reason. There is an inherent beauty associated with autumn - trees on fire with tons of colors, mountains dusted with their first snow, wildlife wandering to and fro, and so on. It’s a landscape photographer’s dream come true!
As you head out into the cool, crisp autumn air, consider these quick tips to help you make the most of your fall photography opportunities.
It’s Still All About Golden Hour
It’s tempting to shoot during the day in the autumn because the temperatures are so much cooler than even a few weeks prior. And while cool, clear days are great for getting outdoors, the very best lighting for fall photography is still during Golden Hour.
In fact, Golden Hour is even more important during the autumn because the warm, soft light helps bring out the gold, yellow, and red colors that are so predominant in leaves this time of year. If you really want to capture the essence of fall colors, head out at sunrise or sunset to capitalize on the best light of the day.
Look For Contrasts
The best part of autumn is the variety of colors present in many landscapes. Golds and yellows, oranges and reds, and greens and browns are in abundance, and when you can capture them all in the same frame, you have the makings for a color-filled shot.
Don’t just get hooked on color, though. Look for opportunities to capture contrast as well. If the landscape has a lot of reds and yellows, strive to juxtapose those colors on the backdrop of an early morning or late evening blue sky. Conversely, if the weather is cloudy or overcast, contrast the whites and grays of the clouds with pops of golds, reds, and oranges in the trees.
Look for Water
More often than not, water is an excellent addition to an autumn photograph because its reflective qualities essentially double the color in the photo. Having a windless day is ideal so the reflection you get is as close to a mirror as possible. However, don’t be afraid to break up the glass-like surface of the water. A rock protruding from the surface, a floating log, or even a well-timed splash from a rock thrown into the water gives the image a bit more movement, adds to the compositional complexity of the shot, and gives the image a nice visual anchor.
Get in Close
With all the colors in a fall landscape, it’s an ideal time to trade in your wide-angle lens for a telephoto and try your hand at highlighting smaller vignettes in the larger landscape. Zoom in on a group of leaves to highlight their color, form, and texture. Shift your focus downward to the floor of the forest to create an image of colorful fallen leaves spread haphazardly across the dark brown dirt. Capture an image of fall’s colors reflected in the water, but frame the trees out of the image, as was done above, to give viewers a completely different point of view. Just try to be creative, and approach fall photography from a new perspective. You’ll never know what you might find!