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Photo Tips > Fall Foliage

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Most of the tips below are about intensifying the color of the fall foliage.

Do consider more naturalistic renderings, as well as black and white.

Vantage Point

Where's the best place for the camera?

Most photographers never ask the above question.

99.9999999999% of photographs are taken at eye level.

Do something different.

Lay on the ground and photograph the tree above.

Climb a tree, if you can do so safely.

Go up in a hot air balloon.

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Reflections

Fall foliage reflected in water is great, of course.

However, there's often a large difference in brightness between the actual leaves and their reflection.

If you set the exposure for the leaves, the reflection may be too dark.

If you set the exposure for the reflection, the leaves are too bright.

Use a graduated neutral density filter to reduce the contrast.

Contrast & Repetition

Look for surfaces in the foreground and background that are the opposite of the leaves, or similar.

For example, a blue sky makes the warmer colors of the leaves stand out.

Or, a parking lot filled with school buses and yellow leaves, would also be effective.

Weather

When the weather isn't great for photographers—its great for photography.

If there's rain, fog, frost, dustings of snow—get out there.

Light

Early and late light are often the best light, due to the increased warmth (redness) of the light.

The long shadows show volume and shape.

Try moonlight, too.

White Balance

Sun Icon

Set the white balance to the sun icon.

If you use automatic white balance (AWB), the camera may see the fall colors as an excess of these colors, and may "correct" them.

If so, the colors in your photographs will be muted.

Fluorescent Tube Icon

Experiment with the fluorescent tube icon.

The fluorescent white balance setting adds magenta to counteract the excess green of most florescent lights.

With fall foliage, the extra magenta makes reds richer.

Warming Cards

You can use warming cards to make the white balance setting warmer.

Tone Curves

Many cameras allow you to change the overall color rendition.

Look in the menus.

Use the vivid color setting for fall foliage.

Be sure to switch the setting back to normal.

The landscape exposure mode (mountain icon) may also switch the tone curve of your camera to a vivid color rendition.

Exposure

Use exposure compensation to intensify the color.

Underexpose by -.5 or -1.0.

Even further underexposure may benefit some scenes.

Filters

Polarizing

You can make the sky a deeper blue by using a Polarizing filter.

The filter can also intensify the color of the leaves by removing the glare from their surfaces.

UV

UV filters were used to reduce haze.

However, these days, a UV filter has no effect on haze.

That's because all lenses already have a UV filter incorporated into their design.

Flare & Glare

Flare

Flare is a whitish haze and transparent shapes in a photograph.

Flare is produced when the light sources enters the lens and bounces off of the lens surfaces.

To reduce flare, use a lens hood, and shade the lens from the light source with your hand.

Glare

Glare is reflections of the light source off of surfaces in the scene, such as water and leaves.

Time

Passage of Time

Photograph a scene repeatedly, to show the progression from summer, to fall, and to winter.

Shutter Speed

You can use a tripod and slow shutter speeds to blur falling leaves, or leaves floating down a stream.