Sunday, September 30, 2007

Shoot Fall Colors Like a Pro

Here are some of the things that I do to capture nice Fall shots:

1. If the sun is shining, use a circular polarizer and carefully orient it to cut glare reflecting off of the leaves. It'll expand the color in your shot, improve saturation, and enable a more accurate and appropriate exposure. It can make the sky a deep shade of blue as well, which looks good alongside the bright leaves.

2. Shoot close/detail shots early to avoid wind, especially if you're shooting aspen trees.

3. Shoot in RAW format if possible to enable you to adjust white balance of your shots towards warm as appropriate to reproduce the warm yellow, orange and red leaf tones you experience.

4. Use a small aperture such as f/22 for maximum depth of field.

5. Try some shots of backlit leaves, as they can be very intense in color.

6. Pick some westward and eastward views and plan ahead to catch sunrise or sunset over colorful trees.

7. Pick up some of the most colorful and interesting leaves you find and put them in your pocket. Arrange them as a still life shot on a rock, or when you come to an interesting object (stump, rock) or stream scene, scatter them around to enhance the color in the shot. In a pool in a large stream or river, sometimes you can find a circulating eddy to throw leaves into to take long exposures with the leaves swirling around.

8. Use a tripod.

9. Get into a dense stand of trees and shoot straight up towards the sky.

10. Try some 10-20 minute night shots under a full moon. You'll get Fall colros shots with star trails!

11. Shoot a lot of Automatic Exposure Bracketing sequences with 1 1/3 stop to 2 stop spacing. Even if you're not using HDR postprocessing software yet, you can come back 1-2 years from now and benefit later from your investment of time shooting today.