How to Capture Fall Foliage Photos

With autumn at our doorsteps, it’s a great time to break out your camera and capture the gorgeous hues of the leaves as they change color. Here’s how to make the most of your camera and get the best seasonal shots.

Choose Your Location

Chances are you already know where you want to shoot, whether it’s your backyard or a local park. But if you have a choice, choose an area that offers as much variety as possible: The more thickly wooded, and the wider variety of trees available, the better.

Keep close tabs on the leaves as they start to change; wait too long and you’ll be shooting a lot of twigs while the leaves carpet the ground. It’s best to shoot before all the foliage changes color: Leaving a little green in the shot adds contrast and interest for the eye.

Even more important is choosing the time of day. Shoot during the late afternoon, if possible, to avoid harsh overhead shadows. It’s even better if you can shoot on a cloudy day, which will eliminate shadows altogether. If the weather is overcast, get as close to the trees as possible and simply leave the gloomy sky out of the shot.

Set Your Camera

For shooting fall foliage, start by decreasing the camera’s contrast setting, if it has one. You can do this by turning on the Auto Contrast Balance mode, which will lighten up your shot. This is especially important if a scene is backlit, a common situation in landscape photography that can lead to an overly dark foreground.

Next, you’ll probably want to adjust the white balance to capture those beautiful reds, oranges and yellows at their brightest and most vibrant. Set the camera for light less bright than what you’re shooting in. For example, on a sunny day, choose the Cloudy white balance setting to give colors more contrast. Experiment further with other white balance settings, including those designed for indoor use. You might find you like the effect.

Shooting Near and Far

Remember to move around as you shoot, and don’t forget to zoom in and out on your subjects. A picture of a single leaf can be as compelling as a shot that captures hundreds of trees. Don’t forget to bring extra lenses if you have an interchangeable lens camera, so you can shoot the trees from afar with a telephoto lens, then swap in a zoom lens to take close-ups, too.

Get a Wide View

Looking for an expansive panorama? Set your camera to shoot in the widest mode available. This will give you a widescreen view of nature’s splendor, resulting in amazing landscape shots. Some cameras also includes 3D panorama, which enables viewing on a 3D HDTV.

Go RAW

If your camera supports it, shoot in RAW mode. This mode records every bit of information the camera’s sensor detects, producing an extra-large, highly detailed image. The RAW format is ideal for editing on your computer, allowing you to experiment until you’re happy with the finished product.

Don't Forget the Rest of the World

The rest of the world doesn’t stop existing just because the leaves turn. When composing shots, don’t forget to include water, mountains, buildings and people, all of which take on new life under the autumn sky. And don’t forget to think of the different types of shots you can take—close up, low angles, sweeping panoramas—which can all produce amazing results. With a little planning, creativity and great timing, you'll have a beautiful collection of photos you'll be proud to share with everyone.

Photo Credits: Samsung

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