Friday, September 25, 2009

Tips for Fall Photography

Fall is here! The brilliant yellows, reds, greens and clear blue skies are combining to form beautiful scenes that you'll want to capture before they're gone. We live a great area for fall colors, but they won't last much longer. It's impossible to predict, but based on past seasons you can expect the following:

  • October 3-14: Head to the high elevations above 5,000 feet to find the most color this early.

  • October 11-21: Color will increase in elevations above 4,000 feet.

  • October 18-27: Many of our surrounding mountains show plenty of color, especially in the 3,000-4,000 foot elevation range.

  • October 24-November 3: The color in the Tri-Cites should be the brightest this week,

  • October 27-November 7: Most of the leaves may be down and the color faded by this time. You'll need to head south and stay in the lower elevations to find much color this late.

Here's some tips to get the most out of those fall pictures:

  1. Plan to shoot around the golden hours, which are the hours just before and after sunrise and sunset. This is true year round, but when the sun is low it will add a golden hue to those fall reds and yellows.

  2. Use a tripod if you have one. If you're shooting in the golden hours you may end up with a long shutter speed. If you don't have a tripod place your camera on a steady object such as a car, rock, or fence post. Don't let camera shake ruin your shot.

  3. Use a polarizing filter. This will cut any haze and give the leaves a rich saturated color.

  4. Underexpose slightly. This will give your photo dark richer colors. Don't over do it. See the histogram post for more information on adjusting exposure.

  5. Look for contrasting colors such as red/green, blue/yellow. A yellow tree on a blue sky or red leaves on green grass can make a very interesting shot.

  6. Don't be afraid of a little rain. Overcast days are great for bringing out colors, eliminating harsh shadows, and creating some cool effects. Try to avoid including gray skies in your photo. They're not very interesting.

  7. Give nature a boost. You can warm up a photo by slightly increasing the color temperature using Photoshop, Lightroom or other photo editing software. You can get a similar effect by changing the camera white balance to cloudy.

Of course the most important thing is to get out and shoot, shoot, shoot. The leaves won't wait.

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