Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Photographing Autumn Color

    It's late September, and here on the coast of Maine I have already seen a few trees starting to show their autumn colors. Fall is my favorite season, I love shooting this time of year. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you are photographing fall foliage.

Check on-line foliage reports to find the best autumn colors in the area you'll be shooting. 

Shoot early in the morning and late in the day for warm light, avoiding contrasty mid-day lighting. If the day is overcast, you can shoot all day! Blue skies are beautiful, but cloudy days will saturate those gorgeous colors. Just don't include that white sky in your composition, fill the frame with color. 

I like early morning shooting best, morning mist can add wonderful mood and dew on the leaves is great for macro work.  Bring your polarizer along to eliminate any glare on the leaves and boost color. 

As with all of your photos, watch for distractions that do not add to the scene. Look carefully around the frame before you click that shutter. As my students frequently hear me say, "If it doesn't add, it needs to go."  Eliminate anything that doesn't add to the story you want to tell with your photo.

Shoot from wide to macro, work your subjects!

Look up for backlit leaves....

 Look down for reflected colors in streams, ponds, puddles and on any reflective surface. 

I shot this one on the hood of a car!

Don't be afraid to make your own scenes. Adding that one perfect autumn leaf to a composition can add a wonderful focal point.

If it's windy, embrace that wind and shoot with a long shutter for a more abstract look.

Moving water with a long shutter speed creates an interesting look as well.

If it's not windy, you can play with camera movement instead. Pan, zoom, swirl and twirl, move that camera with a long shutter, it's fun!

Happy shooting!



  1. I really like the first shot, fisheye? It looks like the leaves are in a glass sphere. I'm also glad you're posting again. I use google reader to stay current with blogs I enjoy. Your blog is one of my favorites.

  2. Thanks, John. Yes, I used a Lensbaby with the Fisheye optic for that photo. Glad you enjoy the blog! :)


  3. Beautiful photos! I love all your various techniques. Our leaves in Georgia are just beginning to turn. Late October here may be the peak time.

  4. Well, let's see... three more things we have in common.
    *Autumn is my favorite season.
    *I love shooting in early morning light.
    *Love bokeh more than anything.
    These are absolutely stunning images!

  5. You always inspire me, Kathleen. I truly appreciate that you allow us to "peek over your shoulder" so to speak and let us in on a few of your techniques. Your photos are what mine want to look like when they grow up. :)

  6. Aww, Robin, what a great comment, thank so very much! :)


  7. Love the backlit leaves and the singles... I hadn't thought about a long shutter speed and moving the camera while mounted on my tripod, but I will now!