10 Steps to Great Fall Photographs

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When it comes to fall photography you want to make the most out of the brief window that nature gives you.  You simply don’t have time to go out and hope that you are getting the results you want, you HAVE to get it right the first time.  So to help you along we’ve come up with 10 easy steps to getting great fall imagery.  So this weekend when you go out, take this list with you so that you can take advantage of this amazing season.

#1 Location – Location is everything.  It’s just that simple, you have to be in a fantastic location in order to get fantastic images.  Sadly, most of the time this involves actually getting out of your car to get the shotsJ.  Scout out several locations in poor light so that you can return when conditions are perfect and you can capture the scene.  If you don’t have any idea of where to go just look up several random locations and see where you would like to start.

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#2 Light – I’ve said it a million times before; light is the key to a great photograph! Fall imagery is no different.  The best lighting conditions happen at sunrise and sunset when there is direct light on the scene but it is still soft and not as harsh.  When shooting during the day hope for an overcast day which will allow for good shooting conditions where the light is even as the clouds act as a natural soft box for the sun!

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#3 Use Your Histogram – The histogram is something that a lot of photographers never use.  When photographing a scene, it can be hard to tell if you are actually getting the exposure you want.  So after you have taken a photo, check out your histogram on you LCD screen to make sure that you aren’t clipping your highlights or lowlights.  It’s a nice and easy way to make sure your exposure is where you want it to be.

 

#4 Use Correct Depth of Field – Depth of field is controlled by a few things but it is primarily determined by aperture.  Make sure you are telling your camera to do what you actually want it to do, mainly, determine how you want the photo to look, set the aperture and get the shot you actually want.  It really sucks when you wanted the a deep depth of field and ended up with a shallow one (and visa versa) because you weren’t paying attention, trust me, I know.

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#5 Use a Tripod – I’m not quite sure why this needs to be stated again and again, but using a tripod is going to allow you to shoot any scene the way you want.  So go for that deep depth of field with a low ISO and don’t worry about your shutter speed because on a tripod it doesn’t matter.

 

#6 Collect and Scatter Leaves – Fall is one of the few times where you aren’t totally at the mercy of the landscape you are shooting.  As you hike to the location you want to photograph, collect fallen leaves and then scatter them when you get to your spot. This works particularly well for waterfalls and streams as it adds color to the surrounding area.  Just make sure that your scattering looks natural, too many leaves facing color-side up are a dead giveaway that the scene has been arranged.

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#7 Rock the Fog and Mist – Fog and mist can soften and mute colors, but they add mood, atmosphere, even mystery. Use these to your advantage especially at sunrise to add another element to your photographs as the fog/mist will play with the bright colors of the fall landscape.

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#8 Use Water – Streams, ponds, rivers, and lakes take on a whole new dimension with the fall landscape and are my absolute favorite thing to photograph. With the added color of fall places you visit any other time of the year become great photo locations as water will give you reflections, contrast, and added feeling when coupled with long exposures.

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#9 Elevation – One thing that will give your photograph a sense of expanse and wonder with fall colors is elevation.  Look for locations that will allow you to overlook as and go down instead of making the viewer look up.  Drive up a mountain pass and find a place that will give you this chance.  You don’t always have to work with the forest floor, find places that show you the ceiling.

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#10 Focus On The Small Things – Fall isn’t just about getting fantastic images of the vast scenery.  Look for the small details that come out with fall and focus on them when lighting isn’t ideal.  This will allow for a whole new side of your fall photography.

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© 2015, Tony. All rights reserved.

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