Fall officially started last week, so depending where in the world you’re located, you might or might not be celebrating the start of cooler weather. Here at Wix, we’re sad that beach season is nearing its end, but we’re plenty ready to get cozy with our sweaters and pumpkin spice hot chocolate.
The trappings of autumn are calling, and few things have the power to get us excited for the seasons transitioning than fall foliage photos. With its crisp and glared-out sunsets, musky smells, windy mornings and bright colors, the changing of the leaves rustles up nostalgic feelings, and master photographers have the power to capture it all in their frames. Well, maybe not the smells.
Here are our tips for great fall photography, along with some beautiful examples of foliage images.
Fall Light Makes for Perfect Foliage Shoots
Sometimes the bright glare of the low sun can enhance the drama of fall photos, but photographers are wise to employ other distinctly autumnal types of available light as well. Shooting during the “magic hour,” just after sunset and just before sunrise, accentuates the leaves’ warm tones.
Wide angles in these conditions bring out the drama of your landscapes, with shadows casting patterns across your frame. Soft, dim light from overcast skies can make bright colors pop with contrast and allow you to emphase compositional details. Patches of direct light peeking through the clouds can lend texture and depth.
Back lighting can bring out the “glow” of foliage’s color saturations. When the sun shines through leaves into the camera, the leaves get all the more luminescent, and their blemishes and veins pop out.
Fall Photo Subjects and Compositions
Foliage makes for dramatic and romantic photography, but you can take it up a notch by finding the right context for the leaves. Try curling roads, quaint towns, people frolicking, or other mammals preparing to hibernate.
Water is especially great for foliage photos. Playing with rippled and/or still, mirror-image reflections can add depth, while the motion of earth-toned creeks and waterfalls complements the bright leaves laying still on the various surfaces. Slower shutter settings are great for presenting water in these ways.
You also have the option of going inward, creating interesting frames with macros and minimalist still lives. And sometimes surprisingly alluring abstract images can result when you get creative with motion effects. The right composition makes all the difference between a frame that’s all foreground and one that offers the eye some interplay with negative space.
The northeastern United States is obviously the area with the strongest reputation for foliage photo opportunities. But photographers hunting for the perfect foliage location shoots can consult The Weather Channel’s regional foliage maps, which are updated on an ongoing basis to track the changing colors of the leaves.
For your seasonal pleasure, we’ve scoured Flickr for some of the most inspiring fall foliage photos that use these principles especially successfully. Enjoy.