Capturing fall colors
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus
If there is one season when I honestly & truly feel like spending hours out in the midst of nature with my camera, it is fall. Fall is the last celebration of colors by Mother Nature and the final opportunity for nature photographers like me to make a last ditch attempt to capture some shots worth the while.
Tweaking the shutter speed
Why just be happy with capturing fall colors? Why not experiment and expand our horizon a bit by including interesting aspects in the photograph? Find a small brook, even a falls and set up your camera to capture something more than just fall colors.
Lead yourself out of the auto mode and set your camera to shutter priority and to a 1-2 second exposure, and to RAW mode. Focus on the falls, preferably using a 1 or 2 stop Grad ND to balance the exposure and shoot.
Get up close with a macro lens
Do you own a macro lens? Now is the perfect time to bring it out. If you don’t have one beg or borrow one for a couple of days and head for the woods. Imagine the above falls scene where you were pointing towards the water dropping down? Now, find a leaf. There would be no dearth of one I hope. You could place it over a rock to give the shot bit more contrast.
Focus as close as possible and try to bring out the intricate details of the leaf lying on the rock with water hurrying past. Take care to use a sturdy tripod and find some footing. Don’t be afraid to wet your feet but be careful of the water slippery rocks. You don’t want to damage your gear trying to capture a beautiful shot.
The long winding road
These are the photos that you could simply look at for minutes together and still not want to take your eyes off. For best results try head for a location that has less traffic. Park your vehicle off the road and have someone watch your back for vehicles coming from behind while you stand right in the middle of the road and compose the frame.
Focus for the trees and leave the sky out, otherwise you run the risk of an over exposed sky in the frame. Use the concept of leading lines and use the winding road judiciously to lead someone looking at the picture into the scene.
“The woods are lovely . . .” – the ubiquitous fall color shot
To capture one of these you need a wide angle lens. The omnipresent 18-55m would just be fine or anything under 50mm that you can lay your hands on. Shooting with a wide angle lens you may come across a problem of color fringing. Depending on the type of color fringing try stepping down the lens (to correct Longitudinal chromatic aberration) and or shoot in RAW to correct lateral chromatic aberration later in post-processing.