Ask any landscape photographer what their favourite season is and there is a pretty good chance they will say ‘autumn’. There is just something about the golden colours, the low sun (if we’re lucky) and the cool crisp mornings that makes everything better, and more importantly, more photogenic! So how can you make the most of autumn? Well, I have compiled five tips that will allow you to take your photography one step further this year.
1) Make the most of ‘Golden Hour’
Let me just get the most obvious tip out of the way first. By now, I’m sure most photographers understand the sense of shooting at ‘Golden Hour’ to make the most of either sunrise or sunset. During the summer months, sunrise in particular is a bit of a nightmare, as it can mean a 4.30am start or earlier. However, the sunrise times in autumn return to far more reasonable times making it much easier to be motivated to get out and shoot. It goes without saying that the thing we all love most about this time of year is the beautiful colours of the trees, but throw in the warm glow of sunrise/sunset and it can really elevate your images.
2) Get experimental!
Autumn is a fantastic time of year to shoot but many of the images can be lost in the crowd of very ‘similar’ images. This offers photographers a great opportunity to get experimental. Composition is one area that can be great to play with, shooting low to the ground and making the most of the blanket of leaves, for instance. One area that I will be looking to experiment with is ‘off-camera flash’. Having recently used the PocketWizard flash triggers, which I normally use for my automotive work, I see lots of potential for illuminating backlit subjects using off-camera flash whilst shooting into the sun. Hopefully, this will create some really unique images and offer a lot of versatility in terms of lighting subjects.
3) Make use of planning tools…
Planning at this time of year is essential, in particular as the weather can be very hit or miss so every opportunity needs to be grasped. There are several tools that I utilise to make sure I have planned ahead before going out to shoot. The most obvious is a decent weather app. I have used Yahoo Weather for years and found it to be fairly consistent. However, I have also used apps such as AccuWeather and Dark Sky. One particularly useful tool is the Photographers Ephemeris - which allows you to see the angle of sunlight at any particular time of day - essential for understanding what will be bathed in beautiful light and what will be in shade. Finally, I use Google Maps and in particular, Street View to explore different areas, especially if they are further afield so that I have a good idea what to expect when I get there!
4) Expand your editing skills
One of the best ways to take your images to the next level is to improve your editing skills. It’s always really important to capture a scene as well as possible ‘in camera’. However, it’s about what you do with it next that is equally important. Paying attention to the warmer hue’s and the saturation can really help your image ‘pop’. I do the majority of editing in Lightroom and will often make a few final adjustments in Photoshop. With regard to autumnal images in particular, I like to bring out the orange and red tones to make the most of the autumnal feeling. I also like to adjust the tone curve to add a softness to the image, but it is always better when Mother Nature adds a bit of mist! A great place to learn new skills is YouTube and I will be uploading new videos on my own YouTube channel soon.
5) Print your work…
This may not seem like the most obvious tip at first. However, by printing your photos, you are committing to an image and ensuring that you are producing your best possible work. I never feel that an image is complete until it is printed and you can see the fruits of your labour. It also helps you pre-visualise an image and make sure you are making the most of a scene and envisaging the final image, hanging on your wall. More importantly though, it is the warm fuzzy feeling you get weeks, months or years after taking an image you are particularly proud of and you happen to glance back at it and get that satisfied feeling. Autumnal images always feel the most sentimental to me and many others and therefore, make a great option for printing and hanging.