Fall is an amazing time to photograph landscapes and nature, however, just pointing the camera at the pretty colors is not likely to get you a wall hanging. Even if it does, it's just a wall hanging like a thousand others. So what can you do to help spice up the your fall photography? Here's some ideas which may help inspire a better day of shooting on your next fall photography trip.
Using Reflections for a Mirror Effect:
- If you can find yourself a nice slab of unmoving water, you're in business. Obviously a lake is going to be your best option, but you are going to want more than just that.
- Go to the lake before sunrise. Winds tend to be at their lowest point just at sunrise before the sun's light heats up the air. So be on location before then to get the perfect "mirror" from the water. Actually this is good advice anyway, just to make use of the "Golden Hours" lighting.
- Choose a location where the surroundings are close to the water (then go to the other side). In other words.. If your at a pond with trees growing around the lake, you'll get the most interesting reflection if you are shooting where the trees reach the water's edge. That way you get a full "top to bottom" reflection of the trees.
- Try to add something in the water (rock, old tree, beaver damn, etc) to "anchor" the photo. It helps strengthen composition if the the reflection has something breaking it up just a pinch.
- If you can't make a perfect mirror reflection, then go for a more abstract look. Try zooming in on something interesting (let's say some rocks in a stream).. then attempt to capture the colored reflections of surrounding trees in the water, thus turning the water colors. So now instead of some boring rocks in water,, you can get rocks in a sea of yellows and greens. Using long exposures can help with this (try using a neutral density filter to extend your exposure).
- In the fall you can collect "perfect" leaves (richly colored or nicely shaped,, or both) and carry them with you.
- When you find a beautiful photograph, you can easily enhance it by scattering leaves around the shoot area. Let's say you found a lovely patch of moss and rocks. You can scatter colored leaves around the rocks and moss to nicely enhance the scene and add color accents.
- Remember not to make the leaves too perfect or it will look fake. Make the scatter random,, and make sure some are best color side up while others a color side down and others in between. I'd recommend just letting them fall where they may and then possibly turning over the best ones to give a tad more color than might normally show.
Abstract Photographs Using Motion:
- Often the breeze will make photographing fall colors difficult. Those leaves won't stop moving and so you end up with somewhat blured leaves (assuming you can't get your shutter speed fast enough). So turn the tables. Use the wind to your creative advantage. If you can't get shutter speed fast enough,,, then you certainly can get it slower.
- Turn your aperture down nice and small, ISO too. Maybe you can pull off a 1/2 second exposure,, or even better, maybe 2 seconds. (note: neutral density filters will make this much easier if there is too much light).
- Now that you have a long exposure,,, let that wind blow. What you end up with are nice sharp tree trunks with abstract blurry clouds of color around them. It's a very cool look.
- What if there is no wind, but you still like the idea of blurry trees. Try using a long exposure and moving your camera instead. This often works best if you move your camera in line with the tree trunks. It results in a cool "stretched out" look and can make a relatively boring stand of trees look very cool. The photograph on this page was not attractive at all as a sharp image, In fact this stand of Aspen trees had already gone bare (no leaves at all), but I like this result.
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