Warm shades of red, magical fog and unique light conditions – fall is here again. The ever-changing colors of the new season inspire spectacular photos. To make sure your pictures are a success, we’d like to offer some helpful tips for choosing your subjects, composition and camera settings.
- The right time for fall photography
- Playing with colors and contrasts
- Photos of fall: composition and camera settings
- Using light to capture autumn images
- Finding inspiring fall subjects
1. The right time for fall photography
Intense reds permeate the picturesque landscape, birch leaves glow in golden yellows, maple leaves show their deepest orange: Most trees start changing color in October, when fall foliage reaches its peak. That makes October the perfect month for taking stunning photographs.
Shoot during the golden hour
The golden hour before sunset is the ideal time for romantic pictures in soft light: The sun lights up the sky in dazzling shades of red for about an hour before it melts into the horizon. The reason for this? The sun is very low in the sky during the golden hour, causing its light to be scattered when it enters the atmosphere. This lights up the aerosols in the air, meaning dust particles, water droplets, oxygen and nitrogen molecules. A further plus: Long shadows are created, which give images more depth and highlight textures.
Magical fog after sunrise
Getting up earlier isn’t as much fun when the nights get cold, but it’s worth it: The early morning hours are great for capturing the otherworldly patches of fog that appear in low-lying areas. Fine droplets form, contrasts blur with increasing distance, the image seems to extend into infinity, especially with a wide-angle lens. Colors reflected by the fresh dew make for stunning images. The thickest fog forms in the first two or three hours after sunrise and then begins to dissipate.
Shoot in bad weather
Rainy days are surprisingly good for subjects such as reflections in puddles or closeup shots of glistening leaves. You can get great pictures by shooting through wet window panes with a wide aperture, for example by using the bokeh effect to deliberately blur the background. For maximum effect, make sure the aperture is as wide as possible. Tip: Secure your camera on a tripod to prevent blurry photos.
You can protect yourself from heavy rain with a rain cape or use a special umbrella that you can attach to your body. Or, you can wrap the camera in a plastic bag and cut a hole around the lens to protect your camera from moisture.
Tip: Wind- and water-resistant materials are also available. HD metal prints are a great mounting option if you want to display your pictures on your patio or balcony. These prints are created by burning the image into a special aluminum coating. They retain their brilliance even when subjected to hot steam and constant temperature changes.
2. Playing with colors and contrasts
Autumn is about one thing above all: saturated colors. Naturally occurring contrasts can be manipulated to achieve amazing effects. Tip: If the picture is somewhat underexposed, reddish leafy foliage will show up even better on the deep green meadow.
Photographs with vibrant colors are excellent for displaying on a glossy canvas print. Autumn photos on canvas are much more vibrant and the frame adds an extremely attractive touch.
3. Photos of fall: composition and camera settings
An autumn forest is full of things you might not notice at first. Look up and you’ll see bright red tree tops; look down and you’ll notice a mushroom with a fascinating shape sprouting out of the ground. Take the time to explore your surroundings when photographing autumn scenes.
Balance your composition
When photographing a broad autumn landscape, the rule of thirds is a good guideline: The image is divided into thirds horizontally and vertically, with the horizon usually on one of the two horizontal lines. In a classic landscape photo, the horizon is usually placed on the top line to give the objects in the foreground enough space. Tip: Many cameras have a setting to show these lines as a grid.
A fall photo becomes a little more artistic when you use a guiding line to direct the viewer’s attention. The line could be a winding street, a wall or a hiking trail. This allows you to break away from conventional rule-of-thirds composition, but still create a well-ordered image.
Choosing the right camera setting
Natural light in the fall is usually a littler darker, so you should increase the ISO number. Caution: Use a tripod to counteract the inevitable graininess as you increase the ISO. Also, check your white balance frequently because the weather is constantly changing. The white balance settings with the “clouds” and “shadows” symbol ensure that the colors are not too cool. However, this can also be corrected later in your photo editing application.
Additional tips for macro photography in the fall
Dew drops, leaves and sprouting flowers are excellent subjects for macro photography. Always remember to shoot bright objects in front of high-contrast backgrounds. To avoid overly monotonous compositions, use the golden ratio rather than placing your subject in the middle of the frame. Note: For macro photography, you need a lens with a high reproduction ratio such as 1:1 or 1:2. Always use a tripod because even your own breathing can cause minute camera shake that will affect the final photograph.
As for mounting, an ultraHD print under acrylic glass is the best way to show off all the sharp detail of your photo. This revolutionary technology produces extremely sharp images with increased maximum density. The result is a resolution that is two times higher than that of conventionally developed photos. Every last detail of your closeup photograph is revealed.
4. Using light to capture autumn images
Light is an important element in fall photography: You can work with reflected light and reflections on the surface of water, manipulate light conditions to achieve a certain shadow effect, or use backlighting to create more sophisticated images.
Backlighting is great for artistic images
Photographing backlit scenes is usually a difficult task. In automatic mode, the exposure time is reduced and the foreground of the image appears too dark. The trick is to place the subject between the light source and the lens: A darkened foreground can be a stylistic device when you photograph silhouettes, bushes or leaves. Backlighting highlights shapes and beams of light force their way through branches, creating a unique atmosphere. The aperture can be wide open or almost closed. A small aperture makes the sun look like a bright, jagged star.
The angle of the light defines shapes
Colors are truer when the light source is behind the camera. However, you should adjust the focus so that the image doesn’t look too “flat.” Tip: Light that hits the subject from a side angle will produce shadow shapes and contrasts in the image.
5. Finding inspiring fall subjects
Idyllic nature scenes in the woods, waves crashing on the beach or a photo shoot in the park – the creative possibilities are endless when it comes to autumn photography.
Photos of trees and leaves
Deciduous trees are an ideal subject thanks to their ever-changing shades of red and many different shapes. They are great for closeups that capture a natural work of art, or for far-away shots that show off the beauty of the natural scenery.
Tree photographs printed on wood are particularly stunning. The fine wood grain of the mounting material shines through and brings the photographed tree to life.
Spider webs or leaves covered in droplets create an awe-inspiring, magical atmosphere.
If you set a slower shutter speed and place your camera on a tripod, you can capture the full motion of flowing water while keeping the scenery around it sharp.
A neutral density filter can be used if short exposure times are not possible on bright days. This also allows long exposure times in the glaring midday sun.
In the early morning hours, when the wind is still, you can capture surreal-looking reflections on the surfaces of lakes and large puddles.
At the sea shore
Blustery winds and stormy weather at the sea shore make for exciting photos that are bursting with energy. The power of the elements is captured in a single image.
Fall portrait photography
Soft autumn light is great for portraits. Small wrinkles and blemishes don’t show up, and the warm light has a flattering effect on skin tones. Useful accessories for shooting: collapsible reflectors for low-light situations, wool garments like caps and scarves or powder for a more matte complexion.
A narrow dirt path adds a romantic touch and symbolizes the question: Where is my path taking me? What will happen at the next fork in the trail?
Secret tip: Visit places more than once
Although foliage colors reach their peak in October, returning to the same spot in November or December is still worthwhile because a patch of forest can transform in a short time and make for an entirely new photo. Autumn is a constant transformation, and fall photography is an exciting way to capture this process.
With these tips you can create impressive photos. Autumn is an inspiring season full of colors, emotional moments and romance. “Autumn is always our best time”, said the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This also applies for artistic photography.
You can find the portfolio of Bart Heirweg on his website. The amazing photographer appreciates WhiteWall’s high quality products and provided his photographies for this article.