Autumn is an amazing time for taking landscape images. The bright vibrancy of the changing leaves combined with the soft, golden morning and evening light creates a spectacular photo opportunity, just waiting to be captured.
Autumn is considered by many photographers to be one of the most photogenic seasons – and for good reason. This season is brimming with bold colors and contrasts, and the landscape is completely transformed with fiery hues. The only downside is that the days are shorter, and the weather’s often dark and dismal – which means that there’s less time to capture it all.
Look for the Best Light
One of the best things about autumn is all of that rich, golden light. During autumn, the sun is at a lower angle for longer, and sunsets can be amazing. Golden hour, sunny days, and overcast conditions can all make for spectacular images, as long as you’re prepared to work with the light.
1. Golden Hour
During autumn, the soft, warm light of golden hour is especially beautiful. Look for this light just after sunrise and before sunset. This soft, golden light combined with the incredible autumn colors can make for some exceptionally striking images.
2. Sunny Days
Of course, other lighting conditions can be great for shooting autumn landscapes too. On sunny days, the direct lighting will give you an increase of shadows, highlighting the texture of the landscape and adding depth and texture to an image. Bring along an ND filter for bright, sunny conditions to prevent blown out highlights and overexposure. On a clear day, you can also use a polarizer to reduce glare from the sun on the foliage and leaves.
3. Overcast Days
Overcast light can also be a great time for capturing fall foliage – images captured under the diffused lighting of a bright overcast day will result in bolder, more saturated colors, with minimal shadows.
Keep in mind that autumn’s warm, golden tones can confuse the camera’s auto white balance system. If your images end up looking too cool rather than warm, adjust the white balance – using the sunny white balance preset. For warmer colors, choose the cloudy preset. Alternatively, you could shoot in RAW and adjust the color temperatures later in post-processing.
Work with the Elements
Autumn weather is full of surprises. Fog and misty mornings can make for some dramatic images, and frost or even rain can add something special to autumn photos.
4. Morning Mist
If you head out early enough on a clear morning, you may be able to capture some beautiful morning fog. Fog is often present after an especially cold night, and as it rises up off the water it can make for an especially beautiful composition. Soft, streams of golden light streaking through the clouds or trees can also result in a striking image with a mysterious almost ethereal quality.
Sudden drops in temperature can result in frost. Frozen grass and frosty trees can make for fantastic shiver-inducing images. In addition to landscape shots, be sure to take advantage of close-ups when there’s frost – frosty leaves makes great macro images.