5 Tips For Better Autumn Images

  1. Isolate with Long Lenses

Consider using a short telephoto lens (70-200mm or 100-400mm for example) to isolate autumn colors, textures and shapes in the broader landscape. Especially when shooting autumn woodlands and forests you'll definitely be confronted with a chaotic situation and a long lens will allow you to compose the most colorful tree's, interesting patterns and shapes.

The image above was captured from a dirt parking lot in the Groton State Forest of Vermont. This group of trees is surrounded by much less pleasing elements and at 200mm I was able to compress the perspective and isolate only the most pleasing design and color elements in the scene.

2. Focus on Capturing Autumn Reflections

On any sunny fall day, find a body of water (lakes, ponds, streams, rivers) that is in the shade but also near some brightly lit fall color, such as a grove of colorful trees, canyon walls or even the blue sky above. Here is where you will find a great chance to photograph fall reflections. If the water is still, you can capture some mirror-like refections. If the water is choppy or flowing from the wind or is moving water, like you would find in a river or stream, you can make abstract reflections or colored water with longer exposures. The image below depicts a Cottonwood leaves surrounded by reflections from a canyon wall and the blue sky above.

Make sure to experiment with different camera settings such as fast or slow shutter speeds to capture different looks in the reflections. Short exposures will yield more detail and longer exposures will allow for movement in the water and blur the details. The image below of reflections in the "Tarn" in Acadia National Park was captured with a long exposure of 8 seconds which not only allowed the reflections in the water to blur, but also the marsh grass to blow in the wind creating an impressionistic effect.

3. Look Down and Look Above

Make sure you are looking out for small scenes while out shooting fall color. Some of my favorite images are capturing fallen autumn leaves. I use a Nikon 105mm Macro Lens for most of these images which allows me to focus down a little closer to capture small details such as frost patterns, and as pictured here, rain drops on these fallen Aspen leaves from Owl Creek Pass in Colorado.

Here are three amazing macro lens with links to view more information.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens
Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Vibration Reduction Fixed Lens
Sony SEL90M28G FE 90mm f/2.8-22 Macro G OSS Standard-Prime Lens

I love to also photograph the forest canopy from below with an ultra wide-angle lens. Aspen, birch and even maple grooves make for the perfect locations to explore these types of images. I tend to shoot many of these shots handheld in brighter sunlight. This allows me to easily position the camera and make quick adjustments to the composition. Look for the most graphic tree trunks and make sure there is enough sky showing through the canopy to make the most pleasing images.

4. ICM (Intentional Camera Movement) for Impressionistic Images

ICM has been a favorite technique of mine for years! I love experimenting with camera movement because you never know exactly what you're going to get..it's fun and the results can be artistic impressions that resemble more closely a painting then a photograph. I use every lens available, but often find that my most successful images come from a medium telephoto. This lens choice allows me to isolate the most color and graphic elements simplifying the frame to a few visual elements (and that's important because if the scene becomes too busy it often does not work).

You'll need to experiment with different shutter speed and camera movements, but as a starting point try dialing in an exposure of 1/2 second and experiment with how quickly you move the camera. For tree trunks and forest color, I often find the best movement is up and down. With flowers, I like to twist the camera in a circular motion, for example. Just get out there and play! It's the best way to learn and you'll be surprised how quickly you are creating images with artistic movement.

5. Wander into the Forest

Go get lost folks! Get outta the parking lots and scenic overlooks and go trampling through the woods in search of autumn gems. These unique aspens take some time to find if you explore into the woods, but you won’t find them next to the road or a scenic overlook. So it pays to get off the beaten path and find the gems that are just waiting for you to photograph.

Below are a a few favorite autumn resources for planning the perfect trip and don't forget we still have space on at least two of our Autumn Workshops, Autumn in Vermont and Autumn in Acadia as well as new winter and spring workshops listed below.

U.S. Fall Color Map by Weather.com https://weather.com/maps/fall-foliage
Fall Foliage Prediction Map for the U.S https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/
Peak Fall Foliage Map by Stormfax http://www.stormfax.com/foliagemap.htm
Peak Fall Foliage Map for New England https://newengland.com/seasons/fall/foliage/peak-fall-foliage-map/

Upcoming Fall Photography Workshops

COST: 1,595.00

here is no question that autumn in Vermont is the most magical time to be out photographing and exploring the natural landscape. From rushing waterfalls and forests draped in autumn color to rolling mountains and quaint New England farms, we’ll visit some of the state’s best scenery and secret spots for dramatic fall color. It truly is one of the best times to visit and photograph Vermont!

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Acadia National Park in Maine quite possibly could be the crown jewel of the east coast. The park features miles of undeveloped rocky coast, towering granite summits with awe inspiring views, myriad lakes and ponds and countless opportunities to photograph intimate forest scenes and quiet harbors. It’s also arguably the northeast’s best fall foliage hot spot. Join us for this 5-day inspiration packed exploration of this magnificent park.

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Joe RossbachComment