We are in peak autumn color, here is how to photograph those fabulous colors of the fall foliage!
As always, light is one of the key elements to great photographs of a subject like fall foliage. You should try different light to create more interesting shots.
Direct sun will be very contrasty light with bright, punchy colors. You can also get some interesting light contrasts early/late in the day when the sun is at a lower angle. Remember to meter from the light!
When the sun is shining on the leaves, it will reflect the surface texture. You may also want to try backlighting the leaves, so the light shining through and shows off the interior textures. Remember to meter from the leaves themselves, either by filling the frame with just the leaf, or use your spot meter.
Backlight could provide some interesting possibilities using flare as well. Just you can play around with the exposure a bit to increase/decrease the flaring.
Overcast light is much softer and has less contrast than full sun…and it’s a bit cooler in tone.
DO I NEED A POLARIZER?
Depends on the situation, but you should definitely try it with/without to see if it makes a difference. If the sun is at your shoulder or 30-60 degree in front/behind you, you most likely will see a difference.
MORE TIPS BELOW!
I hope you find these tips useful!
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If handholding the camera, make sure you use a fast enough shutter speed to prevent camera shake blur (1/125th to 1/200th for most people)
If the leaves are moving at all due to wind, 1/500th or faster would be best.
If you want a particular leaf to stand out, use a smaller number aperture like F4.5/5.6.
If you want full depth of field, F22/F32
Set your white balance to the light you are under (daylight-daylight/overcast-overcast or cloudy) as the auto white balance could be affected by a lot of red/orange colors. Or you can shoot RAW and just adjust later.
You can create interesting images of fall foliage using slower shutter speeds and camera movement.
You’ll want to try speeds between 1/30th to 1 second, which can be hard to get even on an overcast day. To make it easier, starting by selecting your lowest ISO (100) and largest possible number f-stop (F22/32, etc)This way you will have cut out light as much as possible, and whatever speeds get you the meter in middle is the slowest you can get. On a bright, sunny day however, you will need to use a polarizer or neutral density filters to cut out the light.
Once you have your settings, create interesting blur by jiggling panning, or rotating the camera, or by zooming the lens, during the exposure. For the panning/zooming shots, you may want to use a tripod to ensure smooth zoom lines.
Another creative technique would be multiple exposures if your camera allows it. Some things to try include in focus/out of focus combinations, and zooming the lens between exposures to create interesting layers.
Of course, don’t get too focused on just the leaves themselves! If there are other elements in the frame that make a great composition, use them!
Water provides some excellent possibilities as well, with both reflections and movement as potential subjects to shoot with leaves.
To blur water, you’ll want shutters peeds between 1/30th to 1 second, depending on how fast the water is moving. Again, this can be hard to get even on an overcast day. To make it easier, starting by selecting your lowest ISO (100) and largest possible number f-stop (F22/32, etc)This way you will have cut out light as much as possible, and whatever speeds get you the meter in middle is the slowest you can get. On a bright, sunny day however, you will need to use a polarizer or neutral density filters to cut out the light.
Hope this post helps you get awesome fall foliage photos!
For those in New Brunswick, NB Tourism has a great map to let you know where peak colours are in the province.
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