Shooting Fall Foliage

Shooting Fall Foliage

This article was written a couple of years ago and contains a lot of good information on shooting fall foliage photos.

This time of year, the fall colors are in full glory. Nature creates a colorful palette in the plants and trees. This fall spectacle is on full display in the Ozark Mountains of North Arkansas and Southern Missouri. Last week I was lucky enough to get a phone call from a friend who told me the fall colors were peaking. I was able to pack up and head out for a few days of shooting. The images I got showed the spectacular fall colors of nature beautifully.

Why do leaves change color in the fall?

I have been asked why do leaves change color in the fall? The answer to that is another of the fun facts about nature. During the spring and summer, the leaves are absorbing sunlight and using chlorophyll to create food for the tree. As the amount of sunlight is reduced in the fall, the trees absorb the chlorophyll back from the leaves, and the green color that dominated during the summer because the chlorophyll is reduced. This allows the other pigments in the leaves to show through and produces the brilliant reds, golds, and yellows we get to enjoy so much this time of year.

Shooting fall foliage colors

So what is the best way to capture those spectacular colors we see all around us in the fall? First, the colors will show better on an overcast day. Light rain will add a shine to the leaves and can add interesting reflections. If you have to shoot on a sunny day, try and be out during the first hour of the day and the last hour, when the light has a much better character. Overcast days create a soft light, which makes the colors more pronounced. If you try and shoot in the middle of the day, you will get washed out colors that aren’t nearly as vibrant.
Obviously, however, if midday is the only time you have to shoot, it’s better to get something to have as a memory, than nothing at all.

Getting More Vivid Colors

If you get more intense colors when shooting fall foliage, you can shoot with an Intensifier Filter. The filter cuts out light pollution when used in astrophotography, but it also intensifies the colors when shooting fall foliage. It filters out the yellow-orange part of the color spectrum. Since most light pollution at night is from sodium vapor lamps that produce a yellowish-orange glow, it decreases light pollution in astrophotos. It also has the effect of helping to intensify red and bright yellow leaves in fall foliage photos. You can purchase the Intensifier Filter here.

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Check out more great photography tips on our Photography Tips & Tricks page.