Photography Tips for Shooting Fall Foliage

Fall Photography Tips

Fall Photography Tips

It’s that time of year when the temperatures are cooler and the foliage is painted with beautiful hues of orange, brown, yellow and red. And no doubt there will be armies of camera-wielding nature enthusiasts, descending on our nation’s back roads and scenic parkways…hoping to capture some of Mother Nature’s radiant displays. I too will be armed with my camera as I have done for many autumn seasons in the past. And I’ve learned a few fall photography tips that I thought I would share with you.

1. Photography – Time of Day 

Lighting plays a major role in photography and understanding how the light affects an image at different times of the day, is important. The sun is low during the early morning and late afternoon, which creates long shadows. Mid-day there is more even light but there could also a problem with the haze which will drastically reduce the brilliance of a blue sky. If your shoot is on a hazy day, I suggest you carry along a polarizer filter to help cut down on the glare and haze. I prefer early morning when there is still dew on the leaves and a low sun that can create dramatic shadows.

2. Closeups and Light Angles

Wide shots of trees and hillsides are beautiful, but it’s amazing what you can get with close-ups. And if you get out before peak fall season, close-ups are the way to go. Experiment with the light. After you’ve shot some beautiful close-ups, try positioning the sun behind the leaf which will bring out the detail in the leaves.  

3. Cloudy/Overcast Day 

It never fails…you’ve planned a great weekend of communing with nature and photographing some colorful images and the sun decides it’s not going to co-operate. Don’t let Mother Nature’s moodiness stop you from capturing some great fall images. Just change your mindset a little. Instead of the brilliant colors illuminated by the sunlight, focus on other aspects of the fall season. Look for things like a single leaf floating on a pond. Or a stream surrounded by some fall foliage. The stream or the single leaf becomes the focus and less on the vivid colors. This will also give you the opportunity to play around with some long exposure images. The image below was captured using a one-second exposure and an aperture reading of 22. Oh, and be sure to use a tripod. Also, you can play around in Photoshop to bring out the brilliance.  


4. Panoramic Shots

The beautiful Vista’s along the scenic parkways in our national forests can be absolutely breath-taking and truly hypnotic. But what the eye can see is greater than what our cameras can capture. To remedy this problem, I take several images of a beautiful scene. This technique works best with a level tripod. First I start at the far left of the panorama and take a picture. Then I pan to the right, overlapping the first image slightly and take another picture. Continue this process for about 3 to 4 images. Then, after you’ve loaded your images on your computer, Open Photoshop. (Or whatever photo program you use) In Photoshop there is a process called photo merge and it will stitch the images together. And it’s a simple 4 step process. Click on the “File” tab. scroll down to “Automate”. Scroll down to “Photo merge. Select all the images then click OK. Photoshop will automatically line up the images and create one beautiful panorama. I have read that other photo programs can do this but I don’t have experience with them.  And one thing I’ve learned with this technique…if you turn the camera vertical you will have more area for cropping later. And shooting vertical will require a few more images than just 3 or 4.


Well, that’s all for now. So grab your camera and get out and enjoy Mother Nature in her radiant glory!

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