This time of year brings natural beauty and fun textures, enough to make you want to pull out your camera and shoot away. However, there are a few things to think about when planning the perfect autumn shot. Here are a few tips for get the very best autumn photography.
Focus on Color and Texture
These truly are what set this season apart from the other three-quarters of the year. Leaves turn brilliant shades that can make lovely pictures on their own or serve as high contrast backdrops for other objects. As amazing as the colors might be, texture is the real winner in the fall. Everything seems a little crisper and crunchier during this time of year. Capturing this texture can be a fun challenge for photographers at all skill levels.
Use Your Zoom
Zoom is one of the best and most obvious ways to capture the details and textures that make up this time of year. It can also compress larger pictures so that they seem to take on a new shape and perspective. This allows the colors and textures of autumn to play off each other and get maximum contrast.
Take Advantage of Autumn Light
While scores of would-be photographers are inside waiting for that rare sunny day, the wise ones are out taking advantage of overcast skies. Overcast skies serve as natural diffusers, allowing you to get even light at any time of day. When the sun breaks through the clouds occasionally, the effect can be positively magnificent as colors seem to dance in the rays of light. Overcast skies also can lend a crisp gray color to water and other reflective surfaces. If you are concerned about making color pop, try using a polarizing lens. There is a good chance this will bring out the rich hues you are seeking.
Learn to Love the Weather
If you think damp weather and fog are a photographer’s enemy, think again. Water droplets and moisture on plants can accentuate shapes and even be the object of your photograph. In fact, dampness tends to make colors appear even brighter and crisper, especially early in the season. Fog and mist can be photographed to be pleasant and cool looking or have a sense of foreboding. Because these weather forms are rare at other times of year, now is your chance to play with them to your heart’s content.
The bright colors and bold shapes of autumn are beautiful on their own, but they hold up uniquely well in reflective pictures. Try getting a picture of leaves reflected in a puddle, lake, or window. In general, reflections are most attractive in photographs if you have the subject lit and the reflective object in shadows. Also, if you are using water, you may want to play around with the different shapes produced by ripples and other water effects.
Create Your Perfect Scene
Sometimes an autumn scene is close to perfect—but not quite. Don’t be afraid to improve a little on Mother Nature. If the leaves are not evenly distributed or need more color in certain areas, rearrange them. If the dew isn’t wet enough, get a spray bottle and help it out. Sometimes you have to construct your photos. It isn’t cheating; it’s acting creatively.
Watch Out for Critters
This may be your only chance to see them again before spring! Animals are easier to capture during the fall because they are too busy fattening up for the long winter to care about that man with the camera. Baby animals look half grown and a little less delicate this time of year, while the adults are sleek and fattened from the abundance of summer. When it presents itself, take advantage of the general attractiveness of the fauna at this time of year.
Look Beyond the Leaves
There is a tendency to assume that nature in the fall means colored leaves, but there are a variety of other hues. Water takes on a gray hue from the sky above it, and woods seem to be a little more ashy than at other times of year. Fall fruits and vegetables tend to be shaped into interesting configurations and often offer color schemes that rival the leaves. There is so much to photograph this time of year that sticking to leaves seems very redundant.
Think Big and Small
Many people wonder whether they can capture the autumn best by sweeping panoramic shots or with close ups of the details. The answer is: all of the above, and areas in between as well! Try a variety of different shots and see which ones speak to you. The small things add up into the big ones, so focusing too much on either end of the spectrum will result in an incomplete picture of the season.
See the World from a New Angle
We all have seen leafy trees from head-on, but have you ever seen them from above? From below? Try adding some new and unexpected angles to your repertoire. You’ll be happy you did, and your viewers will wonder why your autumn photographs get their unique sense of perspective. Autumn happens from a variety of angles, so you are selling yourself short when you stop at the obvious.
Play with Color Effects
Color is the real star of the fall, so don’t be afraid to mess with it a little. Take pictures of the contrast in color, such as a tree with late green leaves next to one that has already turned. Different settings on your camera can either mute or brighten autumn hues, both of which can be interesting takes on the season. Post processing also presents an opportunity to be creative with color. You are an artist, so think artistically about how you can make each shot a little better.
Autumn represents one of the most beautiful and colorful times of year, so no photographer should miss this chance to try for the perfect photo. Best of all, the good light and relatively good weather will make it easy for people of all levels of skill to get the beautiful pictures that they seek.