I love sharing fall photo tips. It’s my favorite time of the year for photography, the perfect time to capture stunning images outdoors. The leaves are changing color, the air is cool and crisp, and the light is soft. Even better, the days are shorter, so you don’t have to wait so long between the morning and evening golden hours! 😉
Here are five fall photo tips. Check them out, and then grab your camera and head outdoors to practice!
Tip 1: Emphasize the autumn colors.
When it comes to fall photos, the changing colors of the leaves are an obvious subject. But how can you make your image unique?
Remember the color wheel. You can emphasize the vibrance of the fall leaves if you include colors that are on the opposite side of the color wheel. Think orange and blue, red and green, or yellow and violet.
Look for colorful trees or foliage areas with interesting color contrast. For example, a maple tree with bright orange leaves will almost glow if you include some blue sky in the photograph.
This wreath in Colonial Williamsburg includes the contrast of yellows and violets.
Tip 2: Play with light in your fall photos.
In the fall, the sun is lower in the sky throughout the day. This gives you a chance to include sunlight in your photos without having the light overpower the scene.
I aimed straight up into the trees for this photo of aspen leaves in Colorado. The backlit golden yellow leaves glowed against the blue of the sky. Even better, the sun just off camera to the left added contrast, including shadows and highlights on the tree trunks.
One of my favorite techniques in the fall is placing the sun behind the leaves. This makes the leaves glow like a stained glass window. For this fall photo, I was able to include a starburst. (Setting a high aperture number helps create the starburst. For this photo, I set my aperture to f/14.)
Tip 3: Pay attention to details.
The smallest details can make the biggest impact in photography. Take time to notice the subtle changes in the leaves, the patterns in the clouds, or the reflections in the water. These details can add interest and life to your fall photos, and they often create a sense of depth and movement.
I captured this image later in the fall when we’d had a frost. By crouching down next to the ground and shooting toward the early morning light, I was able to emphasize the veins in the leaf and the rim of frost around its edges.
Don’t forget to experiment with angles and perspectives as you’re shooting details. Instead of always shooting from eye level, try getting low to the ground or shooting from above.
This is one of my favorite local fall photos. I shot it lying down on a wooden bridge over Halfway Creek on Country Road, an old carriage road in Williamsburg, VA. It was the end of the golden hour, and the sun was behind the trees to my right. By lying down just above the water, I was able to include the reflection of the clouds.
Right after I pressed the shutter, a huge buck emerged from the grasses and splashed into the water. Yes, I definitely jumped! As I started my 15-minute walk back through the woods, I remembered that the woods were also home to bears and coyotes. I was so glad to get to my car!
Tip 4: Use seasonal props in your fall photos.
Fall is the perfect time to incorporate seasonal props into your photographs. Grab a handful of leaves, a pumpkin, or some apples to include in your shots. If you have pets or family members joining you on your shoot, why not encourage them to bring along their favorite seasonal accessories as well?
After I’d decorated our front porch for autumn, the next obvious thing to do was to take a portrait of our Boston Terrier, Kenzie. I wish I’d thought to tie a scarf around her neck, but getting her to sit still for a portrait was a feat in itself! I love looking back at this photo. It brings back happy memories of fall.
If you have a puppy in your family, be camera-ready for funny shenanigans! This is Enzo turning a smaller pumpkin into a chew toy! I love the details of the wrinkles on his forehead and the foot subduing the pumpkin. Setting a small aperture number of f/4.0 helped blur the background.
Seasonal props can add dimension and interest to your photos, and they often create a feeling of warmth and nostalgia. I love seeing Enzo as a puppy! He’s a BIG boy now, over 35 pounds of fun, and still juggling pumpkins and anything else he can grab, including Kenzie!
Tip 5: Don’t forget to take fall photos on your trips!
When you’re traveling, keep an eye out for local festivals. The Jogyesa Buddhist temple in our neighborhood in Seoul was a photographer’s dream when festivals were being held. This colorful elephant was made of live mums.
We could see the entrance gate to Chandeokgung Palace from our 13th-floor windows in Seoul. Behind the palace was the Secret Garden. While you could go on a tour, you could also just pay for admission and wander around by yourself. This was a perfect place for fall photos with reflections.
A photo of the Great Wall of China? Of course, you’d want to capture it. But being there in the fall with the colorful leaves makes the photo framable.
Bonus Tip: Include a visit to the local markets.
Local markets are a great place to capture fall photos. On a weekend trip to ride the Jeongseon Railbike in South Korea, we wandered into a local market and came upon someone cooking jujubes. This colorful fruit ripens in October and is a sign that fall has arrived.
In South Korea, November is the tangerine season. The fruit arrived in our neighborhood of Insadong just when the ginko leaves turned yellow. Soon, people would be queuing to take some home. Looking back at this fall photo brings back wonderful memories of our time in Seoul.
And back here in the USA, you’ll know it’s fall in Sante Fe, New Mexico, when you can smell the pinyon pine burning in the fireplaces and see colorful red peppers hanging to dry in the sun.
Now it’s your turn.
Here’s a challenge for you! Many of the photos I’ve shared in this blog post could have appeared in more than one tip. For instance, the photo of Enzo the French Bulldog appeared in Tip #4 but could easily have been used in Tip #3. See how many tips you can assign to each of the photos, and let me know in the comments. Often, the best photos feature more than one technique.
Capturing the beauty of autumn can be a fun and rewarding experience, and these outdoor fall photo tips will help you get the most out of your fall photography. Remember to embrace the changing colors, play with light, use seasonal props, experiment with angles and perspectives, and pay attention to the details.
If you’d like a refresher on camera modes, be sure to click here for my free Camera Settings Cheat Sheet: https://www.carolinemaryan.com/camera-settings-cheat-sheet/
If you’d like to learn more about using your camera to take photos you love, you’ll love my online class, Camera Mechanics! Click here to learn more: https://www.carolinemaryan.com/camera-mechanics-workshops-info/
This is my fifth blog post about shooting fall colors. (I warned you that it’s my favorite season for photography!) Here’s a link to last year’s post: https://www.carolinemaryan.com/shooting-fall-colors/
And, finally, are you curious about the Jeongseon Railbike? Here’s an article all about it: https://www.jeongseon.go.kr/en/tourist_attractions/leisure_sports