Photo by Scott Bourne

Photo by Scott Bourne

We’re in the peak of fall colors in many areas of the Unites States. For some of you this will come late. You can file this away for next year. Here are five quick tips for improving your fall color shots.

1. Use a polarizing filter. The glare that reflects off the leaves makes it harder to capture the real, deep, beautiful fall colors. The polarizing filter can help you cut out that glare.
2. Underexpose by a half stop. If you underexpose, the colors in your image will be more saturated.’
3. Keep the sun behind you and make your photos within 90 minutes of sunrise or sunset. This tip will keep you in the best light.
4. On windy days, move in for close ups. If there’s too much wind to get a wide shot, move in and shoot details.
5. Use themes. On one day just shoot red. On another, concentrate on close-ups. Day three try including interesting foreground or background objects. Day four try mixing water into the equation.

These are just some starting points. Feel free to share your tips below.

Join the conversation! 30 Comments

  1. Scott your fall colors tips were just in time for me! I’m going out shooting tomorrow.

    I’ll also finally buy a polar filter tomorrow! (I heard from a podcast it’s basically the only filter you use)

    I have to admit the theme tip sounds good, but I find it hard to stay disciplined especially if I know I only have one chance to shoot a particular place or area.

    Reply
  2. Scott your fall colors tips were just in time for me! I’m going out shooting tomorrow.

    I’ll also finally buy a polar filter tomorrow! (I heard from a podcast it’s basically the only filter you use)

    I have to admit the theme tip sounds good, but I find it hard to stay disciplined especially if I know I only have one chance to shoot a particular place or area.

    Reply
  3. Thanks for the tips Scott! I have a photographer’s meet-up group that wants to go on a Fall Season walk soon. I will spread the good news (your tips).

    Reply
  4. A few tips that have worked for me:
    If you are shooting deep reds/yellows/orange leaves, find a birch or similar tree to contrast the bright colors against the white bark.
    Shoot trees in different angles, from right next to the trunk, to looking down a branch, etc.
    Bring a spray bottle with water, and setup a shot with water drops on a leaf.
    Use the polarizing filter for blue skys on brightly colored leaves. But make sure to watch the sky if you are trying to do a composite or pano- I’d leave out the filter for that.

    Reply
  5. My fall shooting planned for this weekend so your tips are greatly appreciated. Scott, do you have a go-to lens for your fall shooting?

    Reply
  6. My fall shooting planned for this weekend so your tips are greatly appreciated. Scott, do you have a go-to lens for your fall shooting?

    Reply
  7. Sorry Mary just depends. A super wide and telephoto are good places to start.

    Reply
  8. Sorry Mary just depends. A super wide and telephoto are good places to start.

    Reply
  9. I like the idea of using themes, really forces me to be think before I shoot, recompose and be more creative.

    I often shoot variations on a theme (shape, color) or a single subject. Challenging myself to make 5 or 10 creative photographs of a lamp or a series of hanging lights can often produce very interesting results results.

    Reply
  10. I like looking for the little details in the fall (as well as spring). I’ll make sure to bring the macro with me during fall photo walks.

    Rosh

    Reply
  11. I like looking for the little details in the fall (as well as spring). I’ll make sure to bring the macro with me during fall photo walks.

    Rosh

    Reply
  12. Thank you, just i time for a weekend trip down the Eastern Sierras to Yosemite.

    Reply
  13. We’ve got some kind of leaves around here that have turned extremely red, and if you get them backlit they appear almost “turned on” with electricity (or neon glow).

    Reply
  14. We’ve got some kind of leaves around here that have turned extremely red, and if you get them backlit they appear almost “turned on” with electricity (or neon glow).

    Reply
  15. @ Kevin: I agree that the leaves are very interesting when they’re backlight. I am going to go out tonight and shoot some leaves backlit by a streetlamp.

    Reply
  16. Excellent!….here’s one more.. find some still water surrounded with colorful trees and work the reflections.

    Reply
  17. Excellent!….here’s one more.. find some still water surrounded with colorful trees and work the reflections.

    Reply
  18. One caveat… Watch out using a polarizer on a wide or super-wide lens. If you include sky in your shot, the amount that the polarizer darkens the sky can vary significantly over the width of the frame (different areas of the sky are polarized different amounts; you generally get the most dramatic sky darkening effect if you shoot at a 90 degree angle to the sun’s path across the sky, i.e. put the sun off one of your shoulders). This can look mighty weird, with part of the sky being a deep, dark blue and another part quite a bit lighter… Trust me; I just pulled this bonehead trick a couple of weeks ago.

    Reply
  19. One caveat… Watch out using a polarizer on a wide or super-wide lens. If you include sky in your shot, the amount that the polarizer darkens the sky can vary significantly over the width of the frame (different areas of the sky are polarized different amounts; you generally get the most dramatic sky darkening effect if you shoot at a 90 degree angle to the sun’s path across the sky, i.e. put the sun off one of your shoulders). This can look mighty weird, with part of the sky being a deep, dark blue and another part quite a bit lighter… Trust me; I just pulled this bonehead trick a couple of weeks ago.

    Reply
  20. These are very timely tips. The leaves look great now here in New York’s Hudson Valley. But, I fully expect them to be gone by the end of the month.

    Reply
  21. […] frägt sich verzweifelt, wie er denn die schönen Herbstfarben kraftvoll aufnehmen kann. 5 Antworten dazu gibts bei twip. Unbedingt […]

    Reply
  22. […] frägt sich verzweifelt, wie er denn die schönen Herbstfarben kraftvoll aufnehmen kann. 5 Antworten dazu gibts bei twip. Unbedingt […]

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  23. I don’t understand the tip about windy days. How i harder to get wide shots when there’s lots of wind?
    I usually have trouble getting close shots on windy days because things are moving around so darn much!

    Reply
  24. I don’t understand the tip about windy days. How i harder to get wide shots when there’s lots of wind?
    I usually have trouble getting close shots on windy days because things are moving around so darn much!

    Reply
  25. @Nathan wind impacts shots at every focal length. I probably could have constructed that sentence better. I am saying that things like a single leaf on the ground or a rock in a stream full of moving leaves might work better on windy days than shots of an entire tree.

    Reply
  26. […] Article on how to shoot fall colors […]

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  27. […] has Five Quick Fall Color Tips and Online Resources for Planning a Photo […]

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  28. […] has Five Quick Fall Color Tips and Online Resources for Planning a Photo […]

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About scottbourne

Founder of Photofocus.com. Retired traveling and unhooking from the Internet.

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Shooting

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