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One of the most photogenic times of year is during the Fall period when the leaves are turning from their green summer shades into a whole palette of red and yellow colors. Of course, for any photographer the Fall season provides an irresistible opportunity to capture the stunning colors in their work but mastering the best ways to capitalize on the chance takes a bit of practise.
As well as the trees going through changes the weather starts to draw in during the Autumn months, with misty mornings and beautiful twilights making it the perfect time to take intensely nostalgic photos that can be highly evocative in the eyes of your audience.
What’s the Best Time to Take Photos in the Fall?
The weather in the Fall can be a little dreary during the day which means that the lighting in photos may not be very good. This can take away from the lovely colors of the leaves in the trees and the otherwise powerful atmospheric features such as the mist or low hanging clouds.
To overcome this you can make use of the ‘Golden Hour’. The golden hour is a photographic term that refers to the hour before sunset and the hour after sunrise. During these times of the day the light is softer, mellow and has a warm quality that disperses at other times of day. During the Fall the sun stays much lower in the sky than during the summer and this has the effect of slightly extending the golden hour.
When you’re shooting golden hour photography you can position the sun behind you to brighten up the landscape. Alternatively you can shoot straight into the sun to create a dramatic sunrise shot with silhouettes and elongated shadows with stark contrasts.
The scientific reason for the natural effects on the lighting of the golden hour each day is that the sun is refracting through the atmosphere at a lower angle than during the rest of the day. Particles in the atmosphere can also create stunning red sunsets which you can also make great use of in your Fall photography.
Weather in the Fall.
In the early parts of Fall the nights are already cold but the days can still be quite warm. This produces fog and mist in the morning which often looks great in photography. If you specifically want to take photos with misty backgrounds Fall is the best time of year for a project like that. As well as just waiting for the mist to appear one day you can go hunting for it by looking for places that it’s likely to form. Mist and fog often forms over lakes and large rivers and so you can head out to these types of locations in the morning to get your shots in the golden hour.
The Sun Rises Later in the Fall than during the Summer.
One of the advantages of taking sunrise photography in the Fall season, apart from the colorful leaves and moody atmospheres, is that the sun starts to rise later and later each day! This means that you don’t need to be getting up super early to get your sunrise shots and so if rising at the crack of dawn is not your thing then the autumn months give you a bit of a lie in compared to the spring and summer!
Exposure During the Golden Hour in Fall.
If you’re having problems with the exposure of your photos when you’re taking golden hour photography in the Fall then a Graduated Neutral-Density Filter can be very useful. This can be used to darken an overly bright sky which allows both the sky and the subjects in the photo to be properly exposed in a more balanced way. Otherwise you can end up with photos in which the sky looks great but the landscape or subjects beneath it are underexposed.
Another way to overcome the problems of exposure with a bright sky and darker subjects in the foreground is to take two different exposures, one for the sky and the second for the subjects. Then later, when you get home, you can merge them using post production software such as Photoshop or Lightroom.
Try a Slow Shutter Speed.
If you’re shooting in the early morning light or at sunset you may want to use a slow shutter speed. To get the best results at lower shutter speeds you’ll need to utilize a tripod to keep you camera dead still as you shoot. This will allow your camera’s light sensor to capture enough light by having a longer exposure which will stop the photo being underexposed.
Top 10 Autumn Photo Ideas that You Can Try This Year.
- Trees: No autumn photography project would be quite complete without capturing the beauty of the leaves changing colors on the trees. You can take photos of rows of trees in a misty park, shoot aerial shots with a drone over a forest or focus on a solitary tree on your street.
- Close up leaves: Close up shots of autumn leaves are a great way to experiment with more abstract types of photography that are minimalist in composition but bursting with color. You can zoom right in to show the veins in the leaves or even just take a photo of a crumbled leaf on the ground!
- Misty landscapes: The Fall season brings with it more fog and misty mornings which make a fantastic backdrop for moody photos and powerful panoramic scenes.
- Waterfall photos: Waterfalls make a great photo at any time of the year but in the meditative season of Fall they can represent the passing of the seasons and fleeting nature of life. The falling leaves add to the nostalgic feelings that a waterfall can bring to mind.
- Reflections: Take photos of the Fall trees with their reflections in a lake or river. The colors of the leaves on the water create a phantasmagoric canvas of rippling color tones that looks stunning in a timeless way.
- The changing seasons: As Fall draws to a close and the first frosts and snow of winter begin to appear on the scene you can take some great photos of the contrast between the last of colorful leaves and the white snow and ice.
- Autumn photowalks: With everything changing so fast during the Fall season it’s the perfect time to go on some photowalks. Around every corner the colors are new and the atmospheric mist that rises in the morning can add a fantastic depth to your work. Photowalks can be more fun if you join a dedicated group or just go with a few friends.
- Use interesting angles: You can take photos from a low angle to capture more of the surroundings and create new perspectives in the scenery.
- Falling leaves: Now you can sit and wait for leaves to fall and try to snap a quick shot but if that seems like a bit of a long shot you can cheat a little and have someone drop a leave for you when you’re ready! Otherwise you can throw a handful of leaves at your subject while they pose for your photo. The results look great and help to bring some fun motion into the photo.
- Autumn portraits: The autumn makes a great backdrop for portraits of friends, family or professional models. To emphasize the Fall the subject of the portraits can dress in colors that complement the colors of the season.
How Do You Take Good Pictures in Fall?
To take the best photos you can in the Fall season you need to be creative and make use of what nature has given you to work with!
Work during the golden hour at sunrise and sunset to create lovely warm compositions and try to include the striking elongated shadows that will build up tension and contrast in your shots.
When you’re shooting in the golden hour use a tripod so that you can slow down the shutter speed and get a better exposure of the scenery and where necessary, consider using a Gradual Neutral-Density Filter to balance out the exposure.
Remember to get down to lakes and other large bodies of water where you’ll not only be able to take photos with great reflections but also be more likely to find hauntingly misty scenery.
One of the most striking features of the autumn is the changing leaves and so use this iconic element to the fullest effect. You can do this in abstract ways or simply through your landscape photography.
Use the bright colors of the leaves to build strong contrasts in your Fall compositions. You can use areas of deep shadow or tree branches and trunks to create intensely vivid photos during the Fall.
Finally, don’t forget that when the leaves fall to the ground they form a beautiful carpet of color on the ground. You can take fantastic photos of footpaths through the woods or even in your town or city.
Fall Photography is One of the Most Timeless Genres You Can Work With.
Each year when the long hot summer turns into Fall you have a limited opportunity to shoot the world around you as it transitions into winter. If you can get out of the house in the early morning you’ll get the very best lighting and beautiful shadows stretching across the ground. Try to join a photo walking group, or arrange your own, to share the season with some other photographers so you bounce ideas off of one another as you shoot your pictures in the Fall.
Is there a prolonged fall season in the area where you live?