a large patch of aspen trees with brilliant colors

Gearing up for a Colorful Fall

Writing from my home in Boulder, Colorado, I can tell you fall is in the air.  While we might be getting a bit of a preview of what’s to come, no doubt the entire country will be enveloped in the wonders of fall in a few short weeks.  This goes for fall temperatures, fall light, and of course fall colors.

If you haven’t had a chance to get the full overview of my recommendations for fall foliage photography, you can check out my hour-long webinar here, where I detail everything I consider, from photo shoot planning, my choice gear, and favorite shots and techniques.

Photographing Fall Foliage Webinar

However, I also want to distill this down into my three biggest takeaways for making the most of your fall foliage photography.

#1 – Don’t Leave the Zoom Lens at Home

aspen trees change color in a gradient

It’s natural to think that big landscapes and big beauty means that you should try to capture it all.  However, landscape photography doesn’t mean you must use a wide-angle lens for a big field of view.  In fact, one of my favorite techniques is to scan my landscape and pick out smaller, specific areas that have particularly good color, lighting, or something striking.

Fall foliage photography is ripe with examples of this, and ripe with opportunity.  When I’m out photographing fall, my 100-400mm telephoto lens gets even more use than my 24-105mm wide-angle.  I find that trying to get the entire scene often results in too many bright spots (highlights), too many shadows, and difficult composition when, say, photographing from a roadside.

Force yourself to see the scene with your telephoto, and you’ll get some impressive results–promise.

#2 – Get Creative with Composition

brilliant yellows of aspen leaves in fall in colorado

When leaves and branches are your only real elements to the photo, you need to get creative with how you compose them.  Be deliberate in choosing where each exposed trunk fits into your frame…where the sky is (if any at all), and if you can incorporate any supporting elements like other prominent landscape features (mountains, cliffs, etc.).  If none of those exist, even man-made things like fences or other strong objects help balance the photo out.

a sweeping view of yellow cottonwood trees along the escalante river in Utah from Kiva Koffee

#3 – Round Out your Album with Other Fall Images

Fall foliage is the obvious star when it comes to fall photography.  However, there is so, so much more to photograph at this iconic time of year.  From farm stands, to colorful corn husks, to dried seasonal flowers, there is no shortage of things to turn into beautiful photographs.  We have the luxury today of sharing albums of photos easily, and curating such an album of, say, 10 or 15 photos means that a dozen photos straight of yellow leaves can be a little lack luster for your audience.  Think about variety not just in subject material, but also styles of photography (e.g., try mixing in some macro photography of leaves, seasonal treats, etc.)

Prior to heading out for your day of fall photography, create a shot list of things you think would be interesting to shoot to complement your album.  From pumpkin patches to pumpkin lattes, fall photo fodder abounds!

Once again, if you wish to continue to my webinar on fall photography, take a look HERE.  I hope you have a fantastic fall season, and happy photographing out there!

Cheers, and be well,

Court Whelan Signature