Capturing autumn, part II: light, color and composition

Capturing autumn, part II

Successful images of autumn foliage can be made regardless of whether the skies are cloudy or blue. When the skies are clear, plan to shoot early or late, when the sun is lower in the sky and the light warmer and less “contrasty”. If you’re unable to shoot at these “golden hour” times, you can sometimes find shooting opportunities in the dappled light of heavily wooded areas. Often, the light is diffused enough to cut down the contrast to manageable levels. Shooting back lit leaves can be effective in this situation.

– Colorful leaves framed by clear blur skies can make for a lovely combination…
Capturing autumn, part I

– The lower contrast of overcast days means less glare and softer shadows, resulting in an evenly illuminated image with more deeply saturated colors. Just remember to not include any of that dull gray sky in your composition…
Capturing autumn, part I

– Back lighting works especially well in autumn, emphasizing colors and fine leaf structures…
Capturing autumn, part I

– Seek out unusual lighting.

In this example, a shaft of light cuts through the forest canopy, illuminating this group of leaves in a way that dramatically enhances their color and texture…
Capturing autumn, part II

– Shoot from an unusual perspective to give your viewers a fresh take on a familiar subject.

Shoot upwards into the forest canopy…
Capturing autumn, part I

Try a worm’s eye view…
Capturing autumn, part I

Go wide…
Capturing autumn, part II

Or move in close…
Capturing autumn, part II

Use other elements to frame your subject, such as the silhouetted leaves in this example…
Capturing autumn, part II

– Look for isolated patches of color…
Capturing autumn, part II

– Use other elements, such as branches of deciduous trees, or as in this example, a large spruce to anchor the image, and provide contrast and counter balance to the colorful foliage…
Capturing autumn, part II

As always, keep working your composition. I see so many photographers snap an image or two and move on, while the best photographers will study their subject from every angle, searching for the perspective that best conveys their artistic vision. Sometimes the smallest change of position can yield a dramatically different result.

Next up, part III

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