As the summer months are winding down, the last of the wildflowers are fading and the leaves of trees are falling, the magical season has just begun. This is when nature moves on to colder regions and landscapes are flushed with autumnal colors of reds, browns, oranges and yellows.
Being photographers, it is always tempting to start shooting the first signs of this season with little pockets of color poking out here and there but to really get into the swing of things, it’s important to be patient and wait till mid season when the vibrant display is at its peak and vivid leaves are seen overhead or on ground. Need some tips to get ready when nature takes its course? Read on!
Follow The Light
Bright sunny days are sporadic in autumn but when it does happens, be selective in your location and shooting conditions. If you’ve taken to the woods, that’s great! But do look out for forest clearings where rays of light penetrate through the trees on the ground and surrounding shrubs. Try some sunrise and sunset shots too, particularly if you’re able to capture the sun illuminating the trees from a low point.
The reflective power of water should not be ignored but taken advantage of when shooting the colors of autumn. For a perfect mirror-like image, calm weather works the best as you can see the tree reflections clearly. Breezy conditions will work well too for a more expressive look. Just a tip, if you are aiming to shoot tree reflections, do so early or late in the day when they are mildly lit by the rising and setting sun.
There are many ways to enhance the color of your photos such as filtration and white balance settings made post-capture. The key is not to overdo it with post production effects. One type of filter I like to use is a warming filter of 81C as it has the most ideal strength among the three. How this filter works is instead of changing the tone, all it does is enriching the nature’s golden hues. You can also opt for a filter with a coral tint to complement dark orange and red foliage. One extra tip, do make sure your white balance setting is NOT on auto so the effect will stay while shooting.
We’ve touched on the leaves and shrubs so far in autumn landscape photography, it’s time to focus on tree branches. From experience, the best way to create contrast is taking the shot from the bottom and looking up into the trees. The tree trunk and branches will be like dark silhouettes against the colorful leaves to make it stand out even more. Don’t be afraid to crop the subject using the zoom feature as you’ll be surprised to find intricate details that are missed with a broader view.
When there’s sun, there will also be rain when it comes to landscape photography. Unlike the summertime where dry weather is favored, nothing helps more to enhance leaf colors than a forest drizzle. This is because fall foliage thrive and becomes vibrant when wet. A filter that you can use is a polarizing one, which will eliminate reflection and strengthen the natural colors of the season. In dry weather, it is best to head out early to capture the heavy dew surrounding the air and settling on the trees.
Most autumn landscape shots are taken under the trees but if you’re privileged enough to find a location overlooking a canopy of the woodland, it will make for a very impressive picture! Imagine the expanse of red-golden tree tops below you like an open canvas where you can see the ridges of land folding one by one, adding a lot of depth to the final result. If you do intend to take a hike somewhere for this shot, do so in clear weather around mid-morning so the sun is high enough to show-off those gray areas.
Now you can finally be ready for this lovely season and find the best autumnal backdrops on your next outdoor shoot! Let us know what you think or share any ideas you have too!