Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Photo tips for capturing autumn leaf colors on day hikes

When photographing autumn leaves, contrast the fall foliage against blue sky.
Sometimes when taking a day hiking during autumn, you want to capture the beauty of an area’s fall foliage to share with others. Here are some great photo tips to consider when out on a fall day hike.

Plan ahead
Know what kinds of trees will be on the trail and if their leaves actually have changed color. Determine how long you have to drive to the trailhead and walk the trail otherwise you might not reach the site you wish to photograph until nightfall. Winging it often will lead to disappointment.

Time your shots
Sunlight comes from the side and is at its warmest at dawn and dusk. Photographs taken early in the morning and late in the afternoon, close to those two times, tend to brings out the leaf colors.

Keep the sun to your back
If you shoot into the sunlight, glare will wash out the autumn leaf colors. Always take the shot from the angle in which the sun is directly to your back.

Contrast autumn leaves with something blue…
Fall foliage reflecting off a blue lake/river of set against a blue sky will make the leaf colors pop. Using only brown tree trunks to contrast with the leaves will flatten the colors.

…or better yet, contrast with something gray
As saturated colors, autumn leaves actually will look great against gray, overcast skies. The color from the obscured sun will be soft and diffused so that glare isn’t an issue.

Follow rule of thirds
Don’t just focus on the leaves. Include some foreground (the ground or waterway before the trees or even the tree trunks, especially if they have color to them) and some background (such as sky). The photo then consists of three parts – the ground/waterway/tree trunks, the colored leaves, and the sky. Just make sure the leaves take up a larger percentage than either of the other two parts alone but not more than the other two parts combined.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.