This is the perfect year to plan a fall visit to Colonial Williamsburg. It’s my favorite time of the year here. The temperatures aren’t hot anymore, and the colors are a photographer’s dream.
Here are five tips to make your trip a success.
Watch the weather!
The temperatures in southeastern Virginia can vary a lot in the fall. Depending on the year, you may need a jacket and gloves. On the other hand, it may be warm enough to wear shorts! So, checking out a weather app before you start to pack is a great first step.
One of the exciting parts of your visit will be meeting the Interpreters. They wear traditional clothing and represent people from the colonial era. Best of all, they are happy to stop and chat or even pose for a photo. They have spent years studying the people they represent and love to share their knowledge.
In the fall, they bundle up and wear layers to keep warm. It’s a good idea to follow their example. Toss a warm scarf and light jacket into your bag, even if you think you won’t need it. It might come in handy if you decide to eat dinner outside.
And definitely wear comfortable shoes! You’ll want to walk everywhere. There’s so much to see and enjoy.
Get an early start to your day on your fall visit to Colonial Williamsburg.
My favorite time in Colonial Williamsburg is 9 am. The trades and sites are just opening, and most tourists haven’t arrived yet. It’s a relaxing time to explore. You’ll see the interpreters walking to work and doing morning chores.
Quick note, though: At this time, all employees and visitors must wear masks indoors. It’s suggested that you wear them outdoors as well if you’re in a crowd. This photo of the blacksmith at the Armoury was taken before the pandemic. Be sure to visit the Armoury! It’s my favorite trade in Colonial Williamsburg. There’s always something going on in there!
Another advantage of an early start is that the colors are richer and you’ll definitely be taking a lot of photos, even if it’s only with your iPhone.
Your fall visit to Colonial Williamsburg is the perfect time to try something new with your camera. Give yourself a challenge!
If you shoot in JPG, try using different white balance settings on your camera at home before you come. That way, you won’t miss great shots while you hunt for the right settings. You may want to switch to Shade or Cloudy when you take photos of the fall foliage. Switching your white balance can warm up the photo and bring out the fall colors. Just remember to switch back to auto white balance after you take the shots.
Here’s another tip if you shoot JPGs. Many cameras have additional settings that can influence how your photo looks. Canons have a setting called “Picture Style.” All camera makes and models have something similar, although the name may be different. You’ll find it in your camera’s menu. Here you can tell your camera that you’re taking a landscape shot or a portrait, to name a few.
Unfortunately, these settings aren’t available in Auto Mode. But guess what? A quick switch to Program Mode will make them appear in the shooting menu on your camera. And you can shoot away in Program Mode. It’s an auto mode that gives you more control over your camera. Give it a try!
November and December call for special decorations and celebrations.
On your fall visit to Colonial Williamsburg, you’ll be amazed at the holiday decorations.
This wreath is full of real fruit and nuts. Some of it is even sliced. I’d love to take a class in how to create a wreath like this. In the meantime, I’ll bring home photos of the ones I see and hang them on my walls in December. The photos are less likely to attract fruit flies!
In the past, there was only one Grand Illumination weekend in December. This year, as we celebrate getting out in public again, Colonial Williamsburg is hosting three weekends instead. What a cause for celebration!
During the first three weekends in December, you can enjoy the Procession of the Yule Log, music and entertainment, a visit from Father Christmas, and fireworks! Bring your tripod along with your camera to get some great shots of these. I’ll link to my post about how to shoot fireworks below.
Be sure to check the schedule on your fall visit to Colonial Williamsburg
Finally, when you buy your tickets, be sure to pick up a map and ask about the schedule for entertainment. That way you can be in the right spot to see any reenactments that occur during the day. You never know when a group of soldiers or drummers might walk by unless you ask ahead!
And definitely sign up early for carriage rides, tours or concerts you want to attend. The tickets sell out quickly. If you have a particular restaurant you want to try, see if you can get reservations, so you won’t be disappointed by it being full.
Want more information?
To learn all about the Grand Illumination weekends in December and more, click here.
And be sure to check out my post about shooting fireworks.
Would you like to learn more about using your camera? Click here to learn about my online camera class, Camera Mechanics. I’ll take you from confused to confident without reading your manual!