How To Photograph Great Autumn Colours

By Geoff Harris

4 Tips On How To Shoot Great Fall Colors


Autumn (or fall) is well underway now in most parts of the western hemisphere, so make sure you get the most out of this most photogenic time of year.

As with most things in photography, timing is everything, but creativity is really important too – you need to think a bit different to avoid getting the kind of predictable autumnal shots that a lot of other photographers tend to take.

1) How to Get the colours to sing

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Obviously autumn is all about great colours, so you want to make sure the reds, browns and oranges are as eye-catching as possible without being overpowering and garish.

Remember to set the white balance correctly in your camera, so it corresponds to the light source where you are shooting; it's often worth choosing cloudy, even on sunnier days, as the colours can glow more.

Obviously if you shoot in raw, which we strongly recommend, you can change the white balance in your image editing software.

Another good tip is to choose the vivid (or similar) picture style in your camera settings and again, if you shoot in raw, you can always revert back if you don't like the effect.

2) How to Shoot trees creatively

Shooting autumnal leaves will usually involve trees, which, although big and static, are not always the easiest things to photograph. Here are some ideas to spark your creativity.

Try fitting a telephoto lenses (e.g. 70-200mm) and zoom in to compress the tree trunks in a woodland scene for a nice creative effect. Or, lie on your back and shoot the branches from the forest floor – this can look particularly good with bright orange leaves against a blue sky, or if you fit a fisheye lens.


Zoom burst, where you select a slow shutter speed and quickly zoom your lens in and out as you take the shot, can yield interesting effects too.

3) Macro and close-ups


Autumnal macro shots and close-up shots can look great. For close ups of autumn leaves, use a wide aperture and focus carefully so you keep the colourful leaves sharp while blurring out the background – or deliberately throw the leaves out of focus while keeping the background sharp.

A 1:1 macro lens will also give you finely detailed close-ups of autumn leaves

4) Other aspects of Autumn landscapes

VX4C9440Autumn photography isn't just about colourful leaves, so consider including other evocative elements – a misty landscape or example, or sun dappling the forest floor.

Autumn is often the time of bonfires too, which can also add atmosphere to your images, as can including colourfully dressed kids playing amongst the leaves.

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Try using motion blur to capture their excitement as they throw the leaves around, for example. Wildlife, such as foxes and deer, can also look great against autumnal foliage.

Again, you will probably need a long lens with a wide aperture to get sufficiently close-up shots without scaring them away; wider apertures also blur out the backgrounds even more.

Further Study

Fine Art Landscape Photography A 4 week online photography class with Sue Bishop

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) - the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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