5 Tips for Photographing Fall Foliage

As the cooler fall weather settles in, and the leaves turn brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow, and purple, it’s a common sight in New England to see cars slowly winding their way along back roads as the passengers admire the beautiful fall foliage. Everyone is craning their necks to see the magical process that turns our forests into gorgeous, quintessential New England backdrops. And of course, cameras are snapping away as viewers try to capture a bit of that magic. Here are 5 tips for photographing fall foliage that will help you make the most of your leaf peeping trip!

5_tips_for_photographing_fall_foliage_(1_of_1)-5 Tips for Photographing Fall Foliage

1. Pay Attention to Lighting

The best times to photograph fall foliage are on overcast days, and during the magic hour (the 30 minutes or so after sunrise/before sunset). Both of these scenarios give even lighting, and reduced contrast, resulting in more vibrant colors!

5 Tips for Photographing Fall Foliage

An overcast day provides even lighting, allowing colors to appear more saturated.

2. Pair Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are located directly across from each other on the color wheel – green/red, blue/orange, yellow/purple. When you place these colors next to each other, they both appear brighter and more saturated. Incorporating complementary color theory into your fall foliage photographs is rather simple. When shooting red leaves, try to frame them so they are surrounded by green (pine trees work well); yellow and orange leaves both pop when placed against a deep blue sky.

5 Tips for Photographing Fall Foliage

Pairing complementary colors, such as red and green, help the color of the leaves pop!

3. Use Foliage in the Background

The leaves don’t always need to be the primary focus of the photo – they can make beautiful backdrops for your subjects as well.

5 Tips for Photographing Fall Foliage

Using fall foliage as a backdrop, rather than the focus of the photo, helps to create a specific mood for the picture.

4. Get Close!

Find brightly colored leaves and make them the primary subject of your photograph!

5 Tips for Photographing Fall Foliage

Getting close allows you to see details you miss in wide shots of fall foliage.

5. Reflect a Bit!

Flat water combined with bright sun makes for unbelievably clear reflections. Use this to your advantage to create interesting compositions!

5 Tips for Photographing Fall Foliage

Using water to reflect the colors of the leaves makes for beautiful photographs!

5 Tips for Photographing Fall Foliage

Peak Foliage

Wanting to make the most of your experience? Make sure to check when the peak foliage is expected in your area! The Weather Channel has a great information on its fall foliage map for the entire United States.

About Jen

Outdoor adventurer and traveler. Writer, Photographer & Communications Professor. Wife. Mom of twins plus one. Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador. Blogger at gayfamilytrips.com.

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2 Responses to 5 Tips for Photographing Fall Foliage

  1. Janeiack September 28, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    Thank you and Wow!

  2. Roadschooling Momma October 12, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

    Fall is my favorite time of the year because of those beautiful colors. Before I began this RV life, I never was able to enjoy them in person because of where we lived, but now I get to see them every year! Thanks for sharing such great tips. I will be using them this year as I add to my fall foliage photo book ;)

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