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How to Shoot Fall Foliage

How to Shoot Fall Foliage

Fall is a glorious time of the year for photographers. During the first six to eight weeks of Autumn, nature transcends itself from the bright green and pastel colors of summer into a broader spectrum of warmer colors such as crimson reds, orange, browns, and gold. These earthly tones of autumn colors provides the most beautiful images when combined with landscapes and nature photography. Fall is filled with deep and breathtaking dynamic scenes with the warm embracing fall colors within the perfect autumn climate that is not only a place to find serenity or autumn romance, but also the ideal spot for your next photoshoot. Autumn foliage is all around us when the season hits. Whether you may be lucky enough to live in a place like New England or Minnesota which offers some of the countries most beautiful fall foliage, near historic architecture and buildings, or just chilling in the comfort of your backyard, now is the time to grab your camera and snap some shots of your favorite landscape photography. You don’t need to be a professional landscape photographer to capture dreamy shots of fall and you wont have but a few weeks to photoshoot closeups of your children playing in the foliage under their favorite tree in the park before all the colorful leaves are gone. Ok, let’s review how to photograph these iconic scenes.

Fall Photography

Photography Tips - Framework

Framework is everything for your images and provides essential information for the story to reach your viewer’s imagination. The rules of photography still apply. You will need a subject, an idea for the environment. Whether you choose a person, structure, or nature such as a body of water or waterfall to be the subject of your photo, the results in your overall composition surrounding the subject will tell the story. Often it’s easy just to take a photo of a scene, but with no subject or focal point for your image, there will be no story. Fall colors are beautiful when used as an aesthetic enhancement to complete a scene, but shooting leaves or foliage alone may lack emotional attachment after a only a few moments of viewing.

Achieving good composition for your fall photos includes basic techniques like the rules of 3’s, realized proper lighting, and adjusting your in camera settings to cater to your environment, but to really get your images to stand out and tell an immersive story, you must include depth into the scene.

Photography Tips - Depth

The Depth of field is what makes your image feel immersive. It does this by tying the foreground and background together while highlighting the subject. Think of your image as layers in a 3-dimentional scene and the depth of field is what delineates these layers upon viewing. Proper depth of field is especially critical for Fall foliage photography which offers a variety of colors within a small area and is what makes all the different colors pop instead of bleed. This is usually done by playing with your cameras aperture but there are other factors too.

  • Use your foreground for leading lines to set your composition and scene. This is the entrance into your photo.

  • Focal Point should be somewhere midground. This is typically where you will find the subject of the photo and generally the most in focus area of the image.

  • The background brings your photo to life by giving it depth. The amount of depth depends on the actual environment, the lighting, and the overall focus between the foreground, midground, subject, and background. Naturally you will have a much larger environment to capture using a wide angle lens vs a telephoto lens and a well backlit background can also open up your composition for a greater depth of field which offers a more immersive perception to the viewer.

Photography Tips - Fall Weather & Environment

Weather is a big part of fall and a fantastic way to portray the season along with the surrounding fall colors. Whether you decide to shoot on a sunny day or cloudy day, they both offer a unique vibe that represents the fall season. You may not see as many sunny days as in summer, and the time of day you shoot makes a huge difference during this time of year when the days are getting shorter. For example, capturing a popular fall subject such as a natural landscape like a waterfall or lake during golden hour can offer a sparkling refection and a more focused visual effect from the natural landscapes features (i.e. water ripples, waterfall mists, etc.). The opposite is true for shooting overcast days, which look especially dreamy when capturing colorful environments within an overcast setting like Aspen Colorado which is surrounded by mountains and the White River National Forest. Timing can also be a key factor for your photoshoot when capturing the daily morning fog that happens over places like the smoky mountains in Tennessee during fall, virtually all of Canada, or any hilly or mountainous landscape. There’s more than one way to do things and fall is fantastic for photography from virtually anywhere in the northern hemisphere. The best tutorials come from practice and experience while the best way for practice and experience is to just go do it and try to have fun in the process.

Photography Tips - Camera Settings

Shooting natures elements can be tricky and require some level of knowledge and skill. Understanding how your camera works will enable you to capture the most amazing images even during the shortest opportunities. There are so many great cameras with powerful automatic functionality and post processing software today like lightroom and photoshop can turn almost any photo into something more, but if you understand the basics of the cameras settings, you wont need anything but you, your camera, and maybe a tripod."

  • Shutter Speed - Allows for long exposures (recommended with a tripod) and underexposing light and movement in your still. This also enables you to battle any unwanted movement from blowing leaves, swaying trees, etc. by shortening the shutter speed.

  • ISO - You’re shooting outdoors, so lowering this will reduce any image noise.

  • Aperture - This is the main factor for your depth of field and depending on the type of camera lens you are using and the style you want will determine what stop you should be using.

  • White Balance - Autumn has warm earthly tones, so a white balance preset to about 5K-5.5k which is right in the middle should be ideal. You can always just turn on your cameras auto white balance and shoot in RAW mode if you want to enhance your image’s white color and overall saturation during post processing.

  • Exposure - Shutter speed, ISO, and aperture all effect your cameras exposure. referring to your histogram can help you understand the lighting in your image and make the highlights in your composition pop.

Best Cameras for Autumn Photography

Canon EOS R5 Full Frame Mirrorless Camera Body + 24-105mm F4L IS USM Lens Kit 4147C013

This 45 Megapixel full-frame sensor offers superb image quality, impressive 8K DCI cinematic movie capture with the ability to extract 35.4 Megapixel still images, outstanding AF and AT functionality with eye, face and head detection, continuous capture at speeds of up to 20 frames-per-second from the powerful Dual Pixel CMOS sensors. The 5-axis in-body image stabilization can effectively compensate for camera shake with approximately 8 stops of stabilization with use of certain non-stabilized, and optically image stabilized lenses.

  • New Full-Frame CMOS Sensor Image Sensor & DIGIC Processor

  • 5-axis IBIS In-Body Image Stabilization

  • High-Speed Shooting up to 20 fps

  • Uncropped 8K RAW and 4K 120P Video

  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF

  • Vari-angle Touchscreen LCD

  • Dual Card Slots

Sony a7 III Mirrorless Full Frame Camera Body + 28-70mm Lens Kit ILCE-7M3K/B

The Sony a7 III offers the most advanced full-frame camera technology and features. Every aspect of this remarkable camera has been refined for extraordinary full-frame image capture control and quality, from the image sensor and image processing system right down to the smallest operational details. Featuring the next generation 24.2MP full-frame BSI image sensor and latest BIONZ X image processor. There are also 693 phase AF points with up to 10fps continuous shooting 4K HDR video as well as one of the longest battery life of any mirrorless camera to date.

  • 24.2MP 35mm full-frame back-illuminated CMOS sensor

  • Sensitivity range up to ISO 51200

  • Fast Hybrid AF with 693 phase and 425 contrast detection points

  • High-speed continuous shooting up to 10fps

  • 4K HDR movie recording capability

Sony a7C Full Frame Mirrorless Alpha Camera Body + 28-60mm Lens Kit ILCE-7CL/B Black

This wonderful camera is the world’s smallest and lightest full-frame camera. It may be the smallest but it doesn’t compromise on power or ability. Showcasing a 24.2MP backside illuminated sensor, 4K movie with full-pixel readout, flip-out LCD and 5-axis in-body image stabilization, this camera is perfect for every photographer on the go and ideal for vloggers and content creators.

  • The World’s Smallest and Lightest Full-frame Camera - without compromise.

  • 24.2MP Backside Illuminated 35mm Sensor

  • 4K Movie w/ Full-Pixel Readout

  • Flip-out LCD

  • 5-Axis IBIS In-Body Image Stabilization

  • Ideal for On The Go & Vlogging

DJI Mini 3 Pro Drone Quadcopter Kit + RC Smart Remote Controller + Accessory Bundle

Interestingly enough, todays drone technology is amazing and a terrific way to capture fall photography. With top notch optical hardware you would find in a normal mirrorless camera, coupled with the fact that drones allow you the best vantage points, means you can execute the most immersive scenes from the best angles. Although it would make for great photos, you don’t have to shoot from the sky, rather slightly higher elevations over the subject that the background of your image becomes things lower to the ground such as colorful foliage, roads, and trees, vs only the blue sky as a background. Besides for helping nab fantastic photos, drones are an exhilarating experience.

  • Weighs Less than 249 g

  • Capture 4K/60fps Video and 48MP photos

  • 34-min Max Flight Time

  • Tri-Directional Obstacle Sensing (keeps the drone from crashing)

  • True Vertical Shooting (great for social media)

  • Mastershots, Timelapse, & FocusTrack (ActiveTrack, Spotlight, and Point of Interest)

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