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Guide to Photographing Fall Colors

Guide to Photographing Fall Colors

Autumn is the perfect season for photography. The grasses are turning from green to golden. Small shrubs, willows, and trees are showing hints of yellow, orange and red. For photography, all of these changes offer a magical but short window of time to capture nature’s most brilliant colors. Here are some tips to help make the most of your time in the field during this special time of year.

Don’t Limit Yourself to “Peak” Fall Color
Limiting your fall photography to the few days of “peak” color means that you could be missing all kinds of opportunities to create photographs on the edges of the season. Successful fall photographs can be made as the leaves start to transition, when most trees have changed and still have their leaves, and after trees have shed their leaves. So, if you get to a place when others define the colors as too early or too late, don’t be disappointed. Opportunities can still be found if you approach your subjects with an open mind.

fall photography

Think Beyond Sunrise and Sunset
Orange and pink clouds can be too colorful when paired with an already colorful autumn scene. Try to seek out a variety of weather and cloud conditions when photographing fall colors with your Nikon Z Mirrorless Camera from This means that in addition to photographing at sunrise and sunset, photograph at twilight, during stormy weather, or even under clear blue skies at midday. Thinking beyond sunrise and sunset provides the opportunity to add diversity to fall photos.

Experiment with Different Kinds of Light
Photographing during the autumn offers a lot of opportunities for experimenting with differing kinds of lighting. For example, with a backlit scene, the leaves will look bright, vibrant, and somewhat translucent. With more even lighting, leaves will take on a more muted appearance. Experiment with different lighting scenarios to fill your photographs with a range of moods.

Use Your Full Range of Lenses
When photographing fall colors, you’ll have the opportunity to use every lens in your kit. By using a wide range of focal lengths, you’ll be able to photograph a more diverse range of scenes and tell a more complete story of the places you visit. A wide-angle lens from will help you take in an expansive scene. A macro lens will help you get close to the delicate leaves on small plants, and a telephoto lens will help you isolate details or photograph a far-away scene.

fall photography

Bring Along Helpful Gear
In addition to your normal kit that consists of a camera, lenses, and a sturdy tripod, a few small pieces of gear can make a big difference when photographing fall colors. Always make sure to have these items with you for a fall colors trip:
  • A circular polarizer to help remove glare and enhance colors when photographing foliage.
  • A remote release can help you time your exposure for lulls in the wind, thus increasing your chances of getting a sharp photograph.
  • If you’re photographing a back-lit scene and are facing into the sun, using a lens hood can reduce the chance of flare.
  • A diffuser helps create shade over a small area, which can be helpful for photographing tiny scenes.
Photographing fall colors provides all kinds of opportunities for experimentation and expanding your creativity. Slow down, wander around, and explore the small scenes at your feet. Experiment with shallow depth of field or intentional camera movement to expand your portfolio of fall photos.
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