It’s officially Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. The temperatures have begun their plunge towards a winter chill, but there are still some bastions of color and life in the hillsides. This is a journey around the world in 40 photographs culled from various countries in the hemisphere. We’ll also feature plenty of tips and tricks for your own autumnal photography. Bundle up and enjoy!
If you’re wondering on how you might be able to capture some of the grandeur of Autumn in your neck of the woods, I have a few tips that should help.
Get Up Early, Stay Up Late
The Golden Hour, the time around sunrise and sunset each day when the light is less harsh and there is greater contrast to the world, is the best time for most landscape photography. Luckily, in Autumn that time of day isn’t too early nor too late.
“Get up early, stay up late” means being ready to shoot before the sun’s rays hit the earth in your location. It also means being available at the end of the day to enjoy the softer light of evening.
Let Your Camera Adjust
A common mistake many make at this time of year is something we forgot over the warm summer months. If you store your camera inside a house or have been driving with it in a nice warm car, the lens will fog up the moment it hits colder outdoor air. In many parts of the North this temperature difference can be drastic, even in the Fall.
To avoid lens fog, let you camera have time to adjust to the outside temperatures before removing the lens cap. This has another benefit when arriving at a new location; you’ll have time to scout the area as your camera is adjusting in its bag.
Another option is to place the camera in the trunk of the car (assuming it is not part of the interior) while driving to your location to give it time to acclimate. Also, be nice to your camera when it comes back inside by placing it in a bag to let it slowly come up to warmer temperatures.
Ignore The Forecast
Some of the best photos in this series and others are taken in nearly the worst weather. A great thing about Autumn is it is a time of change. Winter storms usually aren’t in full effect yet so the storms tend to be transitional. If the weatherman speaks of anything having a “slight break” or “possible clearing” go out into it.
The light you are looking for is dramatic. A bright sunny day is always appreciated and the light can certainly be used, however, breaking cloud formations with sun barely breaking through lighting half of the scene in a stark light will add some punch to your photos.
At this time of year it is hard to predict exactly which forecast will yield the best results, so be ready to head out into inclement weather for the chance to catch a break.
Shoot In RAW
If your camera has a RAW setting, learn to use it. It is important at this time of year because the light can change drastically in a few minutes. The scene might be bathed in glorious broad daylight one moment and then half shadow the next.
Clouds come and go, and their dance deserves a slightly different setting. Rather than try to pick all these correct white balances on the fly, shoot in RAW and you will be able to adjust the photos in post production to match the scene you witnessed.
I am not saying you should not learn how to set your white balance. It is an important, fundamental skill to learn. Please do learn it. But then shoot in RAW for all its advantages. Shooting in RAW will also give you the greatest latitude to adjust the saturation in the computer to bring out the wonderful colors in the trees and plants.
Scout Your Location
Location, location, location is the real estate industry’s motto. And it is true for photography as well. Look for large stands of deciduous trees and learn a few types. Not all trees change the same colors and not all are found in every region.
They are often found in river courses and in recently cleared land. Large stands cover many areas of the Northeastern USA and tracts of Europe. As this photo shows, grapes and other crops put on their own show in the Autumn before hibernating for the winter.
If you are planning a trip abroad, or just across your country, and are unsure, perform a search on Fickr with “Autumn” and the name of your location. Many people geotag their photos now and you can start to pain a picture of what might be found on your journey.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask! Local business groups, chamber of commerces and visitor boards will be happy to help you find a prime location for your shoot (and a nice place to stay as well!)