Fall Foliage Photography Tips

Fall Foliage Photography Tips

You can feel it coming… the days are getting shorter, the air is crisper and the leaves are starting to turn. Fall is upon us and with it one of the best times of year to work on your landscape photography. Below you will find everything you need to know to capture the stunning colors and beauty of the season.

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Tip #1 Find the Water

Water can be your best friend when shooting landscapes, especially when you add the magnificent colors of fall to the equation. Get down to the water’s edge across from where you want to photograph and you’ll be able to create a symmetrical composition. The top half of your photo will be the landscape with the reflection occupying the foreground.

*Advanced tip: Use a polarizer, especially on sunny days. This will help with the color saturation, but make sure it doesn’t ruin the reflection as they are always darker.

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Tip #2 Never Forget the Golden Hour

Nothing will enhance the golden colors of fall like natural light of the golden hour. We’ve discussed it before, but this is the time of day directly after sunrise and before sunset when the colors are at their softest (and optimal for photographing).



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Tip #3  Understand the Contrasts

Contrast is a defining feature of fall and the more you can understand what colors compliment each other, the better your photos will look. When it comes to this season, red and green are the perfect pair. One of my favorite shots to get is when the first leaves begin to turn and you get that lonely red leaf in a sea of green. Study the color wheel if you want to learn the other complimentary colors.

*Advanced tip: Control the white balance manually instead of using the automatic feature on your camera. Set a higher ISO so that the camera thinks it’s shooting cooler light and warms up the colors even more – make sure not to over do it!



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Tip #4 Don’t Miss It!

While fall technically lasts for months, it’s really only a couple of weeks (or even a few days!) that the leaves will be at their peak beauty. Make sure your ready for it and take advantage when the opportunity strikes. There’s no exact time as it will vary based on where you are, but a good rule of thumb is the farther north you are the earlier the leaves will change.

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Tip #5 Don’t Let the Weather Deter You

The most dramatic times to photograph landscapes are not under blue sky and sun, but rather when a storm is brewing. We’ve already touched on contrast, but there’s nothing better than when you’re able to capture that moment when the sun breaks through those ominous, dark clouds. Match this with the fierce colors of autumn and the result will be an unforgettable shot. Make sure to bring an umbrella and other protective gear for your equipment

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Tip #6 Backlight Your Shot

If you are able to, angle your photo towards the sun through the trees. Make sure that a branch or tree trunk is in front of the light to avoid flares if you think they’ll take away from the shot. The result will be a glowing effect bringing your photograph to life.

*Advanced tip: Underexpose to enhance your colors. 1/3 – 1/2 stop should do the trick.