My Kelby Training online class on photographing fall colors is just about done and should be up any day. But if you’re looking to go shoot early this week, I thought I’d give you 5 quick things to look for when you’re out there. Here goes:
1. Backlit Trees – During the fall the colors can really pop with some blazing color when the sun is behind them (A.K.A. Backlit). In order for the color to really pop and have that appearance that they’re glowing, the trees sunlight. So, while you’re always being told to shoot right at sunrise or sunset, you can bend that rule a bit and shoot when the sun is a little bit higher (but still low), so that the leaves have that backlit glow to them.
(click to see the photos larger)
2. Contrast – Find a bright colored tree (or trees) that’s surrounded by darker trees. Then put your zoom lens on, and zoom in to really showcase the color that stands out.
3. Include the Sun Behind a Tree or Branch – I’m a huge fan of including the sun in a photo. If you’re walking around a grove of trees, try setting your aperture to f/16. Then shoot into the sun, and position yourself so the sun is just at the edge of a branch, leaf, or tree trunk to get that little sun-star like you see here.
4. Cloudy Weather – Cloudy weather is actually really good for photographing in the fall. The photo below would never have looked as good on a harsh sunny day, and would have been too dark at sunrise or sunset. The colors really stand out and typically don’t have as much glare on them as they would a sunny day. Remember, during the fall, sometimes the color is why you’re out there. It’s a very short time during the year where nature is that colorful. The weather is secondary. So on cloudy overcast days (where you’d normally leave your camera back home), you can actually shoot because the colors look great. Oh…and try putting your polarizer on to help saturate the colors and remove any glare.
Extra Tip: Border Patrol – If you’re out shooting on an overcast day, try not to include too much of the sky. Typically, on an overcast day the sky will just be white (or gray, but probably white). White skies usually don’t look good. So, whether it’s in camera or in Lightroom/Photoshop, crop ’em out.
5. Pumpkins! Nothing says fall like pumpkins. If you’re taking portraits, find a good pumpkin patch. Ask nicely if you can bring your kids, grandkids, or whoever by to take their photo. Maybe even buy a pumpkin or two before you ask. Then stop by early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Put a long lens on (like maybe 200mm) and stand back so that the people fill the frame at 200mm. Set your camera to Aperture Priority, use the lowest aperture setting. Finally, position the people right in front of some pumpkins with the sun behind them and you can get some great photos.
Thanks for stopping by today. And if you really can’t wait to hear my bright,chipper, cheery voice in my class, stop by Kelby Training’s “on-air” website. They’re playing my Lightroom Basics class for free all week 😉
Really?…. Pumpkins? I think that is the last prop I’d ever use in a fall shoot. So cliche! I like your other tips though!
Good rundown to help keep ideas fresh before heading out this weekend.
Awesome tips as usual, Matt! The weather tip is a good one. Two years in a row Judy and I went to New England and Upper Peninsula for fall colors. Both years we ran into rainy cloudy weather. But by using your tip … we got some really great photos. Like you said, weather is secondary.
Looking forward to the class!
Nice tips Matt! Thanks.
You really got me in the pumpkins one. I was reading it through and … PUMPKINS … “wait, what??” 🙂