The time is upon us; the quintessential season when photographers of every stripe dust off their lenses, check their camera batteries and hit the road to capture those radiant fall colors.
Here is a small sampling of my favorite tips for capturing fall colors, borrowed from my upcoming e-Book on fall photography and condensed for this blog.
Look for Yucky Days
Contrary to popular opinion, you can capture some of the best fall images on overcast days, particularly after a rainy spell. You just have to leave out the gray sky and instead focus on the forest canopy itself or on a tight shot of the forest floor.
Use a Polarizing Filter
Polarizing filters cut glare, haziness and accentuate colors, making them pop off the printed page (or your iPod or iPad screen).
Try a Neutral Density Filter
For moving water, using a neutral density filter will help immensely. ND filters, as they are called, cut the amount of light reaching the sensor without affecting color. That means you will have to keep the shutter open longer to let in enough light, exactly what you want to do to make that water appear “soft.” However, you’ll also have to use a tripod to make this work.
Bring Along a Tripod
Using a tripod allows you to take longer exposures, which may help you with images that show moving water, assuming you want a “softer” look to the water. It will also help on overcast days, as you’ll want to keep your ISO as low as possible to minimize grain.
Go Often and Stay Long
The key to good fall images is to be there. That means repeat visits to your local park at different times of day and during varied weather conditions. Staying rooted in one spot often helps. A couple walking down a leaf-strewn park lane makes for a dynamic photo. Deer, squirrels, fox and other critters may get used to your presence and perform for you… maybe even a bear.
Double the Pleasure
Fall is the perfect time to catch reflections in a pond or lake, thereby doubling the impact of the image.
Fall colors themselves are so outrageous you can rely on them alone to carry the image.
Even in late fall, tight images of things like frozen leaves can be compelling.
No matter what tips you read about, nothing beats actually getting out there and shooting. Like I said, now is the time to dust off those cameras and lenses…