Photographing Fall Colors :: Digital Photo Secrets

Photographing Fall Colors

by David Peterson 65 comments

Summer is over and the great part of the changing seasons is we can look forward to some great fall (autumn) season colors. Here are some tips to take some brilliant autumn leaves and scenery.

Take both Landscape and Detail shots

Fall photography can include anything from wide sweeping shots of the countryside, to close up shots of leaves.

Detail ShotsThe beautiful reds and golds of the leaves on the trees really help to enhance landscapes. Note the word 'enhance'. Autumn colors won't make a great landscape photograph on their own. You'll still need to compose your shot and take note of the lighting and mood. Fall colors will, however, make any landscape shot better. My rule is to ask myself "Would I take this landscape photo when all the leaves are green?". If the answer is no, I look for another angle to shoot from, or find another location.

Leaves make fantastic detail shots - particularly when shot against a contrasting color.


Fall LandscapeShoot just after Dawn or before Dusk. This is when the sun has a great 'magic light' with a warm tone that works spectacularly well with fall colors. The reds and golds are really brought out, and contrasts even more with the blue sky.

Cloudy days also work well. The lack of sun will intensify the colors. If shooting on a cloudy day, change your camera's white balance to the 'cloudy day' setting (or set a custom white balance if you can) to ensure the colors in the final photo match what you see.

Windy days add an extra aspect to your fall photos - leaves blowing in the breeze! If it's not windy, get a cohort to throw leaves into the shot.


A Polarizing filter can intensify the colors in your image. However, they don't work in all circumstances so hedge your bets and take photos with and without a polarizing filter. If you don't have one, use your paint program to increase the saturation a couple of steps.

Include People

Include People!

If you have relatives or friends along with you, add them to the shot. It will create some context for the scene, and will look great in your photo albums.

Try different things

With all the leaves on the ground, get your camera down on the ground with them! You might find surprises like small animals!

Look for rivers or streams and rocks. Water and trees provide a fantastic setting. If you are near a lake, try using the reflection of the trees on the water as a great background to your subject.

Another idea is to get off the beaten track. Do some exploring to find places where tourists and others won't normally go.

Thanks to Marisa, gmajokor and BlackdoG for the use of their images.

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  1. debba says:

    I love reading the tips and have saved all your email tutorials in my email folders >> I cannot wait for some wet fall leaves to photograph. Thanks for all you do David.

  2. Toni says:

    Thank you for all your tips. I just love reading and learning from them. You make learning easy.Thank You

  3. Maryati says:

    Thanks for the tips.. Always excited to go out n take a pic every time after reading ur tips! Thanks again from Geneva!

  4. Roshan says:

    Dear Mr, Peterson

    Thank you for sending mails and certainly always your photographic tips and tricks worth. Hope you will be in the best of your health and happy with your family.


  5. olivian says:

    Thank you very much David! You have taught me a lot (I am just a new commer in photography world). Never stop sending me the photograpy tutorial by mail :)

  6. Erin says:

    First of all, I would like to wish you the very best with your condition and let you know I will keep you in my prayers , may you find peace. Next, Wow!!! Thank you so much for all your wonderful tips and tricks! I'm in the process of starting my own small business of photography and I can't begin to tell you how I hold your info and ideas as insperation to move forward . Thank you again and again, and as soon as I really start to make a little cash off this indevor I can't wait to purchase some of your programs. Peace!

  7. Okane says:

    got my first wave of fall shots already and i am more than excited to go back into the woods again after reading your helpful tips. thank you David!

  8. sofia says:

    Hi David, it is nice to have you back:) hope you are feeling better. Above are wonderful tips, i will definitely try to take some fall photos.

  9. Haris says:

    Great tips!! But i don't get the crispiness in my pics that is so appealing.

  10. kevin says:

    great tips xmas is coming up frist well you have any tips for yaking photo of the street lights etc. I need some help there as past photo not so good

    thanks keep the tips coming

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