5 Tips for Shooting Breathtaking Fall Foliage

Whether you’re an amateur or professional photographer, fall is a season that promises to be full of artistic inspiration. In many places, it’s the ideal time to get out of the studio and into nature. The arrival of fall foliage is a chance to capture some of the calendar year’s most scenic moments imaginable on camera.

But how can you know you’re setting yourself up for the best shot possible? The truth is, many factors go into getting a frame around fall foliage moments that capture something spectacular. The following are five tips for shooting breathtaking fall foliage this year. 

1. Look Into Locations That Naturally Highlight the Season

Some of the best fall foliage photographs happen because of location. Photographers should take time to carefully scope out spots before they head out with the camera in hand. In general, it’s good to look for areas that get an even distribution of rain and sunshine during the daytime hours.

Picking locations that sit higher in altitude is also an excellent strategy to keep in mind. If you can find a place where temperatures stay above freezing at night, you’ll avoid having to work around frost that can mute foliage colors.

Photographers working around Seattle might consider setting up photoshoots along the Cedar River Trail near Maple Valley or the Ira Spring Trail in North Bend. Leavenworth is also well-known for providing some spectacular fall foliage backdrops.

2. Consider a Sunrise Photo Shoot

They say the early bird gets the worm. Well, the earlier you shoot, the better if you’re a fall foliage photographer. Sunrise is the ideal time of day to capture fall foliage at its finest. The light plays well on the leaves, and if you have other subjects involved in the shoot, it can create a colorful and nearly mystical final effect.

3. Don’t Overlook the Power of Lighting

When it comes to fall foliage photography, it’s easy to assume that more sunlight is better. However, this typically isn’t the case!

Instead of waiting for a cloudless day to make the most of a photoshoot, wait for that slightly overcast day instead. This weather pattern provides for softer lighting and more pleasing results overall.

4. Balance Out Warm and Cool Tones

Once you’ve got the time of day and lighting figured out, think about the tone. Framing fall foliage successfully requires attention to detail when it comes to warm versus cool tones.

Try offsetting the warmer undertones of the leaves with more vibrant and cool blues and grays. You can achieve this by setting up near a body of water or including a roadway in the photo.

5. Embrace the Idea of a Reflector

Fall foliage is fantastic to capture on its own, but it also works as an inspiring backdrop for a subject or two. The only risk is that the color scheme will drown out a subject unintentionally in the final photo.

To avoid this issue, consider illuminating subjects by using a reflector in a fall foliage setting. If you do not want to purchase one, you can easily craft a DIY version with a metallic-coated nylon fabric.

For some amazing results your subjects will love, balance out the reflection with standard blackout fabric, too. The combination of these two elements promises to be captivating.

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