How to Photograph Fall Color: Part Two

Fall Color Photography

fall color
The previous article talked about photographing fall color on sunny days, cloudy ones, using a polarizing filter, capturing reflections, and applying the rules of composition. This article continues the discussion of photographing fall color in wind, rain, and after they’ve fallen.

Windy Shooting

The soft effect seen at right came from photographing up close on a breezy day with a shutter speed of 1/3 second. Longer exposures produce more blur and softness; shorter ones give sharper images. Photographing from a greater distance requires a shorter exposure to produce as much apparent blur. As with much of photography, there is no “correct” exposure time – - the time needed to get the blur effect appearance depends on the wind speed. And of course, the choice of the amount of blur is a matter of taste.
fall color

Fall Color in the Rain

Wet leaves have strong colors and a special look that dry ones simply do not possess. Photographers are naturally wary of getting their gear wet, but an umbrella or even a reflector might provide sufficient protection for a few shots if wind speed and rain intensity are light. Custom water protective gear is available for many cameras, but I prefer an umbrella or other simple option as long as it keeps the camera dry and water off the front of the lens.
fall foliage

Take Pictures of the Details

The beauty of a stand. hillside, or valley of trees in full autumn color can be breathtaking, but autumn beauty also exists on a smaller scale. Get in close for unique shots of single leaves or an unusual collection of autumn colors, and don’t restrict your shooting to the woods. I’ve never seen a photo similar to this one of the vines on a courtyard wall, and I would have missed it if I hadn’t been keeping my eyes open for the small and delicate. It can be easy to miss the forest for the trees, but just as easy to miss the details because of the whole.

Fall Color in the City
Nature lives in parks, neighborhoods and on downtown streets, and fall color is in all these places. Where in your town or neighborhood might you find a stream, path, park, garden, or plaza to photograph fall foliage?
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Monochromatic Photos

Leaves on the ground soon lose the fall color, but still make attractive autumn and subtle photographs. The next two images are of the same scene, one rendered in black & white, and the other given a sepia treatment with Photoshop.
black & whitesepia

autumn foliage

Remember People

The strong attraction of fall color means there are usually opportunities close to home to photograph families and children romping in the autumn color just lying on the ground. For me it is always fun to look back through my own family shots to recall individual days and notice how quickly little children turn into big ones. In a way, childhood seems almost as brief as the fall colors themselves and I treasure the memories represented in the photos.

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