There is a certain crispness in the air that signals the beginnings of fall. Depending on where you live you might be seeing the first bits of color creeping in to the leaves…it’s almost here and so it’s time to think about capturing these moments with your camera.
Seems to me that most people pray for bright blue sky days when they are out chasing the fall foliage and that is fine of course, but it really limits the time you can spend photographing. For me, I pray for misty light rain and overcast sky. It will still be bright enough that you can easily get some shots and the best part is the colors will appear far more saturated. The clouds will act like a giant light box giving you smooth appealing lite…perfect! Ok, if it is raining so hard that you are thinking that Noah may be making a house call, stay home and have a nice hot toddy by the fire.
You’ll need a few things to make your life and your photography more enjoyable. A polarizer is essential for these days. Just as the water enhances the colors it also gives a sheen that you don’t want. That lens hood that you have inverted on your lens or in your camera bag, put it on your lens…right way around! Pack a water resistant windbreaker and a towel and you’ll be just fine. Use that tripod too, you will have some slow shutter speeds and if you want to do a stream in the forest, you’ll have a slow shutter speed and won’t be able to hand hold it.
If you are “stuck” with a blue-sky day there are still some things to do, you just need to get out of the box a bit. Go ahead try something abstract…you know you want to! Try a shot straight up through the leaves. A bright blue background with a riot of fall colors, yep that works.Try a shot of the foliage with a strong backlight. It will look like stained glass when you are finished. Try a blurry image. I mean on purpose not an accident. With a slow shutter speed (F22) pan your camera down following the lines of the tree trunk. This is a TG for digital thing, because it’ll take you a hundred tries to get a “good” one, but when you do get a good one, it will be really rewarding.
You can do abstracts on cloudy days too. Try the canopy shot and you’ll get an oriental style negative space image. Try for blinkies…wait, what? You can get some nice high key (over exposed) images with a white background and the colorful leaves in the foreground. Look for shapes and patterns and play with some black and white conversions.
It’s not just the leaves either. Don’t forget barns, fences, dried up weeds (especially milkweed pods!), pumpkin patches and cemeteries. All of these are great targets in the fall especially if there is a frost.
My last tip is to recall the glory of running through the leaves when you were younger than you are now and channel that inner child and just have fun in the woods…with your camera!
Well, I guess getting out to play wasn’t my last tip after all, here is a map that shows where I took these fall foliage images. Some of them are on private property so please be aware and polite…