Without a doubt, my favorite time of year to shoot is in the early fall. Here are a few ways to make the most of shooting during this wonderful time of year:
1. Take Advantage of the Color
This is the perfect time of year to take advantage of the season and shoot outdoors. When the leaves are in full color, just before they fall off the trees, you automatically have a gorgeous backdrop. In order to boost the contrast and color of the scene, try attaching a polarizing filter to your lens. Polarizing filters subtly increase the contrast of your image in-camera, saving you time in post-processing.
2. What to Wear
If you are photographing people, suggest that your client wear solid colors, or, if they insist on patterned clothing, make sure that the pattern is very basic. There is so much color in nature during this time of year, which makes heavily patterned clothing appear extremely busy against the backdrop of fall color. Also, keep in mind the color of the leaves versus the color of their clothes, and try to get your client to dress in colors that are complimentary to red/yellow/orange. So, some complimentary colors would be shades of blue and green. Of course, the classic black/white/gray combo is always a win!
Here in Georgia, the light during fall seems to be one of two things: either 1) completely sunny or 2) completely cloudy. There is really no in-between.
For sunny days, try shooting when the light is soft – either in the morning, or in the early evening. This time of day will decrease the amount of harsh shadows on your subject, and will illuminate the leaves on the trees, creating a stained-glass effect with the colors.
If it is cloudy, you may find that the scenery looks a bit gloomy. Don’t fret, though! A tiny pop of flash will increase the contrast and saturation of the colors of the leaves, as well as illuminate your subject. Don’t overdo the flash though – a little bit goes a long way. The goal is to avoid creating shadows with your flash, so you will, most likely, need to set your flash close to its lowest setting, or use a flash diffuser.
Now is the perfect time to take advantage of a wide aperture, and create the dreamy, swirly bokeh that makes us swoon! Using a wide aperture (for example, between f/2.8 and f/4.5) will blur the leaves, and create the perfect focus on your subject. By all means, experiment with a narrow aperture (f/8 and higher) to get more of the leaves in focus, but you may find that the various colors become way too busy, taking the focus off of your subject.
You may find that your images need very little post-processing when you are shooting in the fall. If you want to try out some post-processing techniques, though, there are a number of routes you can take. My favorite post-processing technique right now is anything that creates a matte effect. The reason being is that the matte effect flattens out the shadows in the image, and increases the saturation of the color of the leaves. That way, the leaves really stand out, without making the overall tone of the image too contrasty. Matte effects also create an overall haze to the image, which is not only absolutely beautiful, but it unifies all of the various tones and colors that naturally occur during fall.
What are some of your favorite tips and tricks for shooting in the fall? We’d love to hear!