Autumn is my favourite season for landscape photography. Autumn photos that are done right are full of vibrancy and atmosphere. The changing conditions bring dramatic sky contrasted by the bright yellows, oranges and greens that fill the autumn background. Couple all this with relatively reasonable sunrise and sunset times it easy to see why landscape photographers love autumn.
Shooting at sunrise & sunset
Like pretty much all landscape photography sunrise and golden hour are the best time of day to be out shooting autumnal images. The low light passing through the autumn nature pops those colours and enhances those often moody autumn skies whilst retaining a soft warm glow to your images.
The first rays of the morning light hitting those autumn leaves can make for some incredibly striking images as well so stick around for a bit after the sunrise. Especially in wooded areas where you can get those rays of light piercing the autumn foliage.
If you have a good day then those morning blue skies contrast beautifully with the foliage from this time of year.
Use a polarising filter
When shooting those autumn colours I strongly suggest using a polarising filter for two main reasons. They enhance colour and contrast and they reduce glare from the leaves and foliage caused by the inevitable moisture.
Polarising filters also reduce the light reaching the film plain so this will require you to adjust your shutter speed for long exposure. This is useful for slowing down any rivers or waterfalls but may also mean you require a tripod to support the camera.
Warm white balance
Autumn Photography is synonymous with warm earth tones so make sure to capture this correctly. Many photographers tend to find that auto white balance works pretty well but I find in autumn auto renders the scene a little on the cooler side so try setting your camera to manual white balance and adjust the Kelvin temperature.
A grey card is a good option to obtain the perfect white balance but it’s almost as easy these days to just do a few test shots. Just make sure not to push it too far or your image will start to look unrealistic.
Tip: If you shoot in RAW file format you can easily adjust your white balance in an editing software in post-production.
Vary your lens
Autumn photography offers so many varying approaches to extract the full potential from a scene. This could be using a wide-angle lens to give the scene a real scale of grandeur. Or you could use a telephoto lens to highlight certain details of the landscape. Zoom lenses beyond 200mm shot with a relatively shallow depth of field are great for compressing an image which works really well with autumn photography with all the natural layers of colour throughout the landscape.
The conditions in Autumn can change drastically so keep a good eye on the weather forecast. If you see some great looking moody conditions or morning mist forecast then be ready to head out and shoot. This also works the other way and makes sure you don’t turn up at a spot when the conditions are not favourable.
Remember it doesn’t have to be a sunny day to get some great images, especially during autumn. Even overcast days have the potential to give you great photos.
Details & framing
Look to incorporate details and framing in your images. A foreground of fallen leaves are great to add interest and sense of scale to your photograph. Likewise if you can find a some natural frames using the beautiful autumn colours to add that little extra impact to your subject then great.
Both these two techniques work great as stock photos and tend to sell fairly well and consistently.
Autumn is a really great time for photographing outdoors. The beautiful colours, the warm glow of the sun as well as often misty conditions can all mix to provide truly stunning photos. So get out there and use the tips above to capture those beautiful autumn colours.
YouTube – Why not take this opportunity to check out our brand new YouTube channel for tips, advice and some inspiration.
Instagram – Check out our photos on Instagram
Facebook – Join our Facebook group and share your photos and chat with other beginner photographers.
Even though we may not be able to travel right now, we are already planning our trips for 2020 and 2021. Our UK workshops in the Yorkshire, Cornwall, Glencoe, Dorset, Lake District, Cotswolds or London will be starting again soon.
Jordan Banks is a successful travel photographer and Lee Filters & Cruise America brand ambassador. With almost 20 years of experience shooting assignments and campaigns for some of the world’s leading brands, companies & tourist boards such as British Airways, Credit Suisse & Visit England.
His editorial work has appeared on the covers of National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Sunday Times travel and many more. If you would like to learn more from Jordan or join him in the field, why not join one of his travel photography courses.
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