10 Tips for taking better Autumn photos

With such a visual feast of yellows, oranges and reds, it’s tempting to think it’s easy to create stunning photos in autumn.  However, from my experience gorgeous autumn scenes don’t always translate into amazing photos.  Below you’ll find 10 tips to help improve your photography as you venture into the outdoors this autumn.

1)  Focus in on the details

For great photos of autumn leaves try zooming in or moving closer for a tighter view. This helps to keep the attention on the leaves, while removing any distracting surrounding elements. To get even closer try using the macro setting on your camera.

2)  Use leaves as a prop

This is great way of entertaining kids and getting more natural looking portraits as they play.  For portraits taken on a blanket of autumn leaves, try photographing while laying on the ground for a more interesting perspective.  Shooting from this angle will also help you capture the leaves in the foreground for a stronger portrait.

3)  Use contrasting colours

When photographing autumn scenes, try taking advantage of contrasting colours for more eye catching images.  Blue is the opposite of yellow and orange, so when you’re photographing scenes with yellows and oranges, try including some blue sky in the background for a more vibrant result.  Green is the opposite of red, so when you’re photographing scenes with bright reds, try including some grass or green trees in the background for more dynamic looking images.

4)  Keep backgrounds simple

Try to analyse each scene before you take a photo to make sure you’re not including too much detail in the background.  This is especially true for portraits, where evenly lit, simple backgrounds work well.  If you can change the aperture on your camera, use a wide aperture to help create a blurred background. This will give your portrait a stunning blurred background of autumn tones, which helps to keep the attention on the person you’re photographing.

5)  Take advantage of reflections

Capture autumn scenes in a less conventional way by photographing the reflections of a scene on water. This is also a great way to give your photos a more painterly, impressionistic feel.

6)  Find the best light

Early morning and late afternoon are the best times of the day to photograph in soft, flattering light.  However, if you’re shooting portraits in the midday sun, you can avoid harsh shadows by turning a person’s back to the sun. Another option is to use the shade of trees or a tree trunk to block a person’s face from the sun.

7)  Cloudy days for softer light

The clouds on an overcast day help to create soft, even lighting, without dark shadows or bright highlights. Another advantage of a cloudy day is that you can shoot at any time of the day, without having to worry about harsh shadows caused by the sun.

8)  Change your white balance settings

Try using your cloudy white balance setting (even when it’s sunny) to capture more intense autumn colours.  This is especially important when you are photographing autumn scenes where strong colours dominate the scene. Using auto white balance will result in colours which are much less vibrant than they appear to your eyes.

9)  Look out for slow shutter speeds

Because the sun sets earlier in autumn it’s important to keep an eye out for slow shutter speeds to avoid blurred images.  Shooting early or late in the day, or in deep shadow, can result in longer shutter speeds because of the low light level.  To avoid blurred images try using a higher ISO setting or use a tripod to ensure you capture sharp images.  If you don’t have a tripod, try leaning against a tree, a fence or a picnic table to steady yourself.

10)  Use a polarising filter for intense colours

For more intense colours and increased contrast, use a polarising filter (if you have one).  Another way of increasing the saturation of autumn colours is to slightly underexpose your images. Of course, if you’re not happy with the colour in the photos you can always increase the contrast and colour saturation in your image editing program.