A polarizing filter can be your best friend when trying to capture autumnal beauty. They will reduce reflections and increase the contrast in your photos giving you rich & vibrant tones and make your colours POP! And the saturation of colours that you get when using a polarizing filter is phenomenal. Not only will it help you to capture the vivid blue of the sky, but it will also decrease much of the haze that is quite common at this time of year.
A simple UV/haze filter can also filters out haze in skies as well as provide extra protection for the front of your lens.
Using a point & shoot camera and a filter isn’t an option? Try using your sunglasses over the lens and see what a difference they make. Rose-coloured ones will make the sky bluer, grayish ones will make the sky less over exposed & yellow ones will allow more detail to show in low light.
Mother Nature has already given you incredible reds & golds this time of year, so why not use her lighting as well to accentuate those colours? The light’s low angles during sunrise & sunset can pick out shadows and emphasize a myriad of natural textures that might not otherwise be noticeable in the bright light of mid-day.
And while we’re on the subject of sunlight – don’t limit yourself to only the super sunny days. You shouldn’t underestimate the brilliant shadows that can be cast by a few well-placed clouds. An overcast day can often be the best opportunity to capture rich contrasts in foliage colour & can also add an added tone or emotional depth to your composition.
Ready, Steady, Go
While you’re shooting in those brilliant, but low-light conditions, you’ll want to be certain your camera isn’t moving about as you’re about to release the shutter. You want your images to be focused, crisp & clear? A tripod is definitely going to be another incredible addition to your photo gear.
Try using a shutter release cable or remote for those long sunset or sunrise exposures. Even with a tripod, pressing the shutter release by hand can sometimes create blur and either of these options are great ways to eliminate any potential wobbles.
Outside & moving around a lot? Chances are you’ll be carrying your camera in-hand with from one location to the next trying to capture impromptu shots – but there are into ways to help with the inevitable hand fatigue that’s bound to strike. A good neck strap can be a huge help – there’s no fear of dropping your camera and it can double as a good resting spot when you don’t want to stow it. Another option is a vertical grip: bigger hands find it more comfortable & the built in shutter button when shooting vertical (or horizontal, for that matter) is handy and provides a stable grip for your camera. The additional battery power is an added bonus that will ensure you won’t run out of juice in the middle of a shoot.
Exposure and White Balance
Play with them. It’s what they’re there for. Is the light washing out the colour of the leaves you’re shooting? Dial back your exposure and see the difference. You can also add drama by ditching the Auto setting on your white balance. Try setting it at just the next stop down – experiment a bit until you get exactly the effect you like.
Get even more creative and carry your experimentation over to a bit of editing. You can still capture amazing shots when the sky appears far too bright or overexposed by taking multiple photos and a) adjusting your exposure to the sky in one and b) adjusting to your subject in the second. Challenge your Photoshop skills by combining the two photos to create one perfect shot. (Hint: use a tripod to ensure a steady shot & to make sure both shots are framed similarly)
Not so sure about your editing skills? Try using a graduated neutral density filter to achieve similar results. Position the shaded portion of the filter/frame over the sky and the clear portion on your subject – you’ll be impressed with the results!
Brighten up harsh shadows with an easy-to-use collapsible light reflector – they pack up small & unfold big allowing you to direct the sunlight towards shadows and brighten up your shot.
Create gorgeous artistic watercolour-like backgrounds easily by using a wide angle lens. Simply set your aperture to f2.8 (or a similar small number), focus on the foreground of your shot and the background will become blurry (short depth of field); this works especially well in the fall when trees & foliage are an explosion of different colours that will blend into a gorgeous background for your shot.
Play Nice with Mother Nature
This time of year definitely creates an incredible natural backdrop for beautiful photographs. But nature is definitely something to be respected: not only can the weather turn on you in the blink of an eye – it can also make for dramatic photos at the same time. You don’t want to be ducking for cover any time you’re presented with less than idyllic weather conditions. Be sure you have the right protective coverings for yourself AND your gear and you’ll be a happy camper every time you head out to shoot.
Don’t forget wildlife! If you’re out shooting this fall, there are a lot of feathered & fuzzy critters that make great subjects for fun photographs. Even when they’re small and/or far away, they can still be captured – in fact, the best way to leave them undisturbed is with a telephoto zoom, which will ensure that you’re able to capture them no matter how far off in the distance they may be.