Autumn is the most delightful time for landscape photographers. As the temperature drops, the leaves begin to change color, attracting photographers and beauty lovers with their colors. Finding and shooting gorgeous fall landscapes requires knowledge and planning if you want to get a truly delightful photo. Remember that with the right photo editor, you can make a successful shot even more beautiful. You can read an interesting and informative article on Skylum’s blog to find the best filter app for Android or iOS.
What do you need for a beautiful fall landscape?
To know how to find a great shot, you first need to understand what makes it beautiful. Every year autumn is different. Many factors influence the changing color of the leaves, some of which appear long before the cold weather arrives. We have three main factors:
- Plenty of moisture.
- Lots of sunlight in early fall.
- Cold but not frosty nights.
Chlorophyll is a pigment found in many algae and plants. It is responsible for the green coloration visible to the human eye during the summer months.
As fall progresses, the amount of chlorophyll decreases, allowing other pigments to absorb and reflect light in their way. Instead of green, they reflect yellow, orange, and red, the colors we so enjoy photographing.
For these brightest pigments to show up, certain processes have to take place throughout the year. However, there is a period when temperatures start to drop too low at night, robbing the leaves of their ability to change color.
Finding good scenery
Now that we know what it takes for leaves to take on their fall colors, our job is to find them. Often we can find out which region of the country will have the most fall colors on a given day. However, as mentioned earlier, the timing of leaf yellowing varies with the weather, so don’t consider this information to be affirmative or accurate. If a late warming wave has begun in your region, the processes of shedding leaves on trees will be displaced.
Similarly, if overnight frosts start early or a major storm passes through the region, the most beautiful colors will be gone before you can see them. So while forecasts are good in theory, they’re useless without constant updates based on actual weather conditions.
Use a polarizing filter
When it comes to shooting in the fall, a polarizer is your trusty friend. Just like a pair of polarizing glasses, the filter reduces the amount of glare on surfaces. This results in richer leaves with better contrast and, if the day is sunny, the sky looks darker, creating color contrast.
Keep in mind that a polarizer does not guarantee these results. The quality of the effect depends a lot on the relationship between the angle of the sun and the angle of the shot. For best results, shoot with the camera rotated 90 degrees to the sun.
Use backlighting to your advantage
Although the midday sun is not considered the best option for landscape photography, it can play to your advantage when shooting in the fall:
- Leaves are not completely light-tight. If you put a strong light source (like the sun) behind them, they will let some of that light through and appear to glow.
- When you shoot wide-angle, you get a great atmosphere by having bright highlights scattered around the frame. In a closer shot, backlighting can bring out the internal structure of the leaf.
Shoot early in the morning and close to the evening
If you plan to shoot a visited place like I usually do, you will have to face crowds of other photographers trying to immortalize the beauty of this fall too. In many places, the biggest crowds start in the late morning and last until the end of the day. So if you come early in the morning or later in the evening, you can capture some of the popular sights without the extra visitors. On the other hand, if you want to capture the mood of people enjoying nature, large crowds will provide just the right amount of people.
In addition to the absence of people, shooting in the early morning and evening will help accentuate the colors of the fall foliage, especially if they have already begun to fade. In years when fall colors are not as vibrant, a midday shot will not look as appealing as one taken during the golden hour, enveloping the foliage in yellow-orange light. So photographing just after sunrise or before the sun goes below the horizon is a great way to give your fall foliage the look it needs.
Abstraction and imagination
Part of the beauty of fall is its uniqueness. In some regions, the bloom of colorful colors lasts only a few weeks. This limitation means that with all these colors of nature at your disposal, you can get creative and take pictures that otherwise wouldn’t interest you. Instead of pointing your camera at the leaves, capture their reflection in the water. Set a long shutter speed on a windy day and let the mottled leaves fly through the frame or drift across the surface of a stream or lake. Unique situations often make for the best photos and present excellent opportunities to kick the habit and experiment.
The next time you head outside to photograph fall scenery, try taking some unconventional photos and step out of your comfort zone. Most importantly, enjoy this time of year! If you edit photos not only on your computer but also on your smartphone, look for the best filter app for Android in the article on the Skylum website. By the way, this developer creates a wonderful photo editor Luminar Neo with an extensive set of AI tools.