Five Top Tips for Better Autumn Colour Photos
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Five Top Tips for Better Autumn Colour Photos

Five Top Photo Tips for Capturing the

Best of Autumn Colour

Crop in or use a wider angle focal length to get the most from golden foliage and the sky
Crop in or use a wider angle focal length to get the most from golden foliage and the sky

Tip 1: The best thing about Autumn is the colours we are able to revel in as photographers. One of the best ways of making the most of our brilliant autumn colour bonanza, is to juxtapose it with a vibrant blue sky. Zoom in or go wide-angle but either way, make sure you frame the most vibrant sunlit reds, oranges and yellows against the blue of the sky; try to build the strongest colour composition you can to make the most of the dramatic colour combinations.

NB: If you have a polarising filter use it to darken skies and increase contrast (particularly if you’re lucky enough to have skies with nice white fluffy clouds to include in a wider angle viewpoint for your photograph.

Overcast Autumn Colour

Tip 2: Some autumn scenes work best when it is overcast, particularly when water is involved, as in my (top) shot below. Again, a polariser can be useful in reducing reflections and cutting through glare or haze as well as enhancing colour. Here I shot a foreground statue framed against a softly rendered background of autumn colours by using a large aperture of F/2.8.

Autumn colour frames this sculpture, using a large aperture (F/2.8 for example) has softly blurred the background colour.
Autumn colour frames this sculpture, using a large aperture (F/2.8 for example) has softly blurred the background colour.
Fallen autumn leaves can be perfect for close up and macro photography at this time of year.
Fallen autumn leaves can be perfect for close up and macro photography at this time of year.

Autumn Macro

Tip 3: Another great technique is macro (or close up) photography. Try it and use all those lovely fallen leaves to get colourful, textured and detailed close up shots. A piece of black card (or another colour if you wish) can be used to get a clutter free background, use natural daylight through a window (or outdoors, just carry the card with you) and then get in close. Things to asses in the viewfinder include shape, shadow and form, use them to best effect. Go for details and textures too if the colours do not do it for you. I recommend you use a tripod and a lens that can either focus reasonably close to the subject, or (using the tripod) use a longer zoom lens and stay further back but zoom in to fill the frame and sort composition; remember, you can always crop later on PC if you need to remove extraneous clutter/background.

Break the rules and change the White Balance

Tip 4: Here’s another neat tip, well it’s a cheat really. Ordinarily you’d always use the correct white balance (WB) setting for the ambient (or main) lighting in a shot. But if you want to really boost colours – as I have in the image of the ageing ferns below – or to boost colour on sunnier autumn days – switch the WB to its Shade or Cloudy setting, which will add a warmer hue to your shots. Choose either of the WB (Shade or Cloudy) modes that gives the best extra colour and warmth to the image that you prefer.

NB: If you shoot RAW, you can change the WB when you are back at base on your PC, but doing it in camera can save time later. Whichever way you go, this is a great way to warm up and enrich autumn colours. But remember, switch the WB back to the correct WB setting next time out with your camera.

As ferns die back in Autumn the colours and texture they offer a photographer cannot be overlooked.
As ferns die back in Autumn the colours and texture they offer a photographer cannot be overlooked.
Make the Most of Autumn Mist

Tip 5: Autumn mist is one of my favourite joys of getting up early in autumn with camera in hand. The early morning light makes colours jump (you can still use the WB Tip (number 4) into the mix too if you wish). Getting up just after dawn is the best time to take advantage. In the two images below I show two completely different aspects of the same time of day. The top image of a lone tree in mist taken before the sun had risen above the horizon giving it a cold but softly atmospheric look to the image. The second image below (at bottom) is taken directly into the sunlight as it lit up the mist over the North Downs in Kent. Some detail is burnt out around the sun’s mist enhanced glow, but the silhouetted foreground landscape makes for a stunningly dramatic final effect.

Misty morning in autumn are ideal for some stunning, low contrast photos, so don't dilly dally in bed, get out there.
Misty morning in autumn are ideal for some stunning, low contrast photos, so don’t dilly dally in bed, get out there.
Shoot into the sun, through autumn mist, to get some amazingly dramatic silhouette effects in your early morning mist snaps.
Shoot into the sun, through autumn mist, to get some amazingly dramatic silhouette effects in your early morning mist snaps.

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