Photography 101 – Autumn

Five Tips For Better Autumn Images
By John O’Connell
Hear the leaves rustle as they’re swept up swirling in the autumn breeze. Smell the new embers as fireplaces throughout the neighborhood start up again on chilly fall nights. Taste the fresh pumpkin pies.
Yes, autumn is the season that most excites the senses. But for photographers, from professional to the family snap-shooter, it’s the sights that most delight. No other season has such rich light. The warm, golden rays just before sunset, and the whiter but still moody glow in the early misty morning are precious gifts that make photographers rejoice.
Here are some tips to make your autumn images the best they can be.
1. It’s Not Just About Leaves
Family groups, children’s portraits, wedding and couple shots, pet and wild animal images and still life pictures are subjects just as worthy of being captured in autumn’s golden light as hills of red, orange and yellow-leafed trees. While you’re shooting those fall foliage images, don’t forget to look around and see the rich details hidden amid the landscape. Individual leaves floating in the twinkling water, fluttering yellow warblers, scarlet cardinals and murmuring mourning doves beckon your long lens to point their way. A child’s glowing face among the gourds in the pumpkin patch — what could be cuter or more frame-able?
boy-in-leaves
2. It’s All About the Light
Take your camera out for a walk or hike right after sunrise and an hour or so before sunset. That’s when the golden rays slant through the trees or glow up the city streets. That’s when your subjects — kids, couples, barns, groves, elk or downtown streets — are coming alive in the light. Don’t shoot into the sun, though; obey the basic rule of keeping the sun over your shoulder so the glow falls nicely on your subject. Alternatively, position yourself so the sun slants to your right or left so that only half your subject is autumn-bathed. Use a white or gold-colored reflector to brighten up the shadowed side of the face. Or use fill-flash on minus one to minus three and an orange or yellow gel on the flash head.
autumn-water
3. Saturation
Don’t over flash and don’t overexpose. Sure, shooting raw will help reclaim some highlights, but colors are more effectively saturated by slight in-camera underexposure. The rich reds and pumpkin-toned hues will be blanched out if you let in too much light.
bright
4. Mood
Don’t limit your shots to the clichés of bright-colored forested hillsides. Some more monochromatic images will also make for exciting pictures you’ll want to frame for the walls of your office or home. Look for slanting rays of off-white light beaming through the trees in the morning mist; watch for the hanging clouds of water vapor over the still lake. A pretty face, a child’s smile, a couple’s eyes for each other are only enhanced, not diminished, by cloudy, subdued light.
girls-eyes
5. Equipment
Remember that long lenses condense distance; wide angles can make scenes look wider and deeper than they are. Rolling hills beneath low-lying clouds are more dramatic when the distance between them is apparently reduced with use of a telephoto, making them bunch up. Foreground objects are given context through the use of short focal length glass. Mid-range 50-60 mm 1.4, 1.8 or 2.8 lenses help isolate faces for nice portraiture, rendering all those dramatic background colors into enjoyably vague, romantically soft pastels. As always, focus on the eyes.
camera
Be sure to read AdoramaPix.com’s blog for more tips.