TIPS FROM A PRO PHOTOGRAPHER FOR MAKING BETTER FALL FOLIAGE PHOTOS
Here is the second part of my article Pro Photographer Tips for Fall Foliage Photos. If you missed the first part of this article you can read it here. This is a collection , in no particular order, of some of the techniques I use when capturing fall foliage with my digital camera. These are tips and photo wisdom I have accumulated in my professional photography career. These suggestion work well for foliage photos and general landscape photography.
USE your TRIPOD – Tripods help you keep your camera steady during long exposures which are useful for landscape shots. More importantly, I think, is they slow down your photographic process. Rather than shooting on the fly, you tend to carefully select your camera position and take the time to really scrutinize your scene. Tripods help you make much more deliberate photographic choices.
BE PATIENT– Sometimes you just have to wait for it. Pick you scene and wait for the light. Having the patience to set up a single well composed shot for the moment the light is best is far more rewarding then taking a lot of near misses. Natural light and weather conditions are constantly in flux often making foliage photography a waiting game.
MANAGE your EXPOSURE – The exposure settings you use will determine how well color presents in your images. Deploy all the exposure tools in your digital camera to get the best exposure possible. Carefully use your metering, exposure compensation and histograms to refine your results. Gets exposure right with your camera work, rather than relying on photo editing software to repair poorly made exposures, for the best foliage photo results.
VISUAL ANCHOR – When you are composing a landscape, or a scene with an extended foreground area include a visual anchor. Place an object of a known size in the foreground of your shot like a boulder for a pond scene. This provides the viewer a starting point that leads them into your photo and reference to the scale of your scene.
LOOK for REFLECTIONS – Be on the lookout for the colors of fall that reflect in streams and on rainy streets. Reflections found on moving water can offer interesting visual effects. I find that in the early morning lakes and ponds tend to be more still, providing mirror like conditions.
ARRANGE the SHOT – It is OK to re-arrange the furniture. Just because Mother Nature dropped a leaf in a particular spot does not mean it must stay there. Move that gem of a leave you discovered into better lighting for your close-up shot. If you have a bare spot in your scene it is alright to sprinkle in some leaves to cover it up. Nature’s designs are incredible but sometime they can use a little help.
COLOR COMBINATIONS – Find a scene with complementary color combinations. A solitary golden leafed tree against a background of evergreens or a solitary yellow leaf on a bough full of orange for example. Fall foliage provides excellent colors to work with, find the combinations that work best together.
ISOLATE DETAILS – It is easy to get overwhelmed with the grand vistas of fall color. Seek out the details, the small slices of visual interest in your scene. The droplet of water hanging on the edge of a leave can be a dramatic photo. The textures and details of leave structure offer infinite photographic potential.
GO ABSTRACT – Not every shot has to be literal in meaning or in sharp focus. Play with the motion of the wind and long exposures for unique views. Use the optical and exposure settings in combinations that alter depth of field and how the passage of time displays. With such an exceptional palette to play with the only limitation is your imagination.
The fall foliage show is a favorite for photographers of all skill levels. My suggestion is to get out there while the getting is good. Every day of autumn presents a new photo opportunity in your own backyard or at your favorite National Park.
The photographer tips I included here are the ones I use in my pursuit of the ideal fall foliage image. Try a few or try them all, just get out with your camera before the season passes.
Please let me know if you found this article helpful and please share the information with all of your photography friends,
This part two of a two-part article – READ PART 1
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Photographer and photo educator Dan Splaine has more than thirty years experience producing photography for public relations, marketing and editorial clients. His company TEST of TIME PHOTOGRAPHY based in Nashua, NH provides commercial photography services in studio and at client locations all over the world. He presents a program of digital photography workshops and photography tours for adults throughout New England. For more information about his photo education program go to the photo workshop and tour schedule page.