Fall is a time of transition—summer slowly transforming into winter, rain returning more regularly, and green leaves turning spectacular colors before going dormant. This being the case, it can be a wonderful season for photographers. However, it takes more than just some colorful leaves to make a striking fall photo.
First, some basics. Sunrise and sunset are going to give you wonderful lighting that will make the rich fall colors even more vibrant. It will provide you especially with a warmer tone that perfectly compliments the yellow, orange, and red of the changing leaves.
The great thing about shooting fall scenes is that sunrise and sunset come at much better times of the day, so you don’t have any excuses not to get out there when there is the very best light. It is always a good idea to head out with a tripod. If nothing else, this will allow you to shoot with a low ISO and make the most of the colors of the season. Also, you should try the shots with a polarizing filter that can help take glare off of the leaves and help the colors be a bit more vibrant.
That being said, there are some less obvious “secrets” that you can try that will make for some impressive fall photos.
SECRET #1 – FALLEN LEAVES
In Autumn, leaves are going to fall. This can add an incredibly colorful element to your composition. In the photo above, we have leading lines with the path and framing provided by the trees along the sides and their branches at the top. We also have the added visual impact of the path being covered in orange and red leaves. If it were not Autumn, the leaves on the path might be distracting or look better in black and white, but during Fall they fill the eye with warm colors.
SECRET #2 – GET CLOSE
With all of the varying colors happening in the Fall, it is easy to lose track of the details. Going close on leaves, for instance, can put the focus on a single color and draw attention to the simple lines of branches and the ribs of the leaves. Depending how close you want to go, you might consider a macro lens or, if you don’t have a macro lens, see if your camera has a macro setting. Whether shooting with a macro or tightly zoomed lens, you may also consider shooting with a shallow depth of field to blur the background and bring the viewer’s eye solely to the leaves.
SECRET #3 – INCLUDE A FOREGROUND
Autumn colors don’t just happen in remote locations. Often they can be found along the side of the road, so why not include some of that road in your shot? A road can anchor the shot and provide a sense of scale. You can decide if you want to include any traffic or not. If a road isn’t available, you could instead incorporate a fence or some wildlife to accomplish a similar effect. Or just try a different perspective.
Enjoy the beauty, nature has to offer at this time of the year and let it guide you to shoot the most amazing photographs!