It’s the most colorful time of the year in the northern hemisphere so it’s time to capture some stunning fall photos. In this article, I’ll give you some tips and ideas to get creative and add some color to your images.
NOTE: If you live south of the equator, save these tips and try them out when it’s your turn for fall!
Here is a quick summary of the tips I’m going to cover. I’ll provide lots of example images to get you motivated and inspired as well!
- Use backlighting to your advantage
- Remember other foliage changes colors too
- Capture harvest time
- Spectacular sunsets
- Do some fall portraits
- Get closer
- Try a new technique
- Process your photos to enhance the colors
Let’s dig in and take a look at each one separately now.
#1 – Use backlighting
Leaves, and semi-translucent subjects in general, look amazing when you use backlighting to your advantage. That means the light source is behind the leaf, shining through it.
It brings out the colors and detail in the leaves and makes them pop. Here are some examples.
Compare the image above to the one below. This is virtually the same leaf, on the same vine. The difference is that I moved around so that the sun was behind the leaf in the one below. Can you see the HUGE difference between the two images?
I also added one of my new, soon-to-be-released Bokeh Texture overlays to the image below for some added pop. I’ll tell you more about that later!
Here are four more examples, two with backlighting and two without. See if you can spot the differences.
#2 – Photograph other kinds of foliage too
Brightly colored leaves are great, but keep in mind that they aren’t the only foliage that changes colors. Think about different kinds of grasses, crops in the fields, etc.
So go out looking for all kinds of different things in nature that change color or alter their appearance in the fall.
#3 – Capture the harvest
If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where there is any kind of farming, get out and photograph the harvest. Whether that be apples, squash, or crops like wheat, keep your eyes open for it. Take a drive out in the country and see what you can find.
IMPORTANT: Whatever you do, do NOT trespass on private property! Only enter a field or farm when you are invited or given permission by the owner.
Notice that two of the images above just have one lone pumpkin or squash, so if you can’t find a farm or harvest display – make your own!
Go buy a pumpkin or photograph the harvest from your own garden. Then find some appropriate props and make a little arrangement and photograph it. Then eat it!
#4 – Photograph the sunset
Where I live in Alberta we always have spectacular fall sunsets. Because the farmers are all harvesting the fields, it creates a lot of dust in the atmosphere and creates a magical wash of color across the sky at dusk.
Look around your area, get out of the city if you’re in an urban area, and go and photograph some sunsets.
NOTE: Keep in mind the term “harvest moon” exists for a reason. Go find out why!
For some tips on photographing sunsets read 3 Tips for Creating Spectacular Sunset Photos.
#5 – Do some fall portraits
Fall is a great time to do some family photos or just take some photos at the dog park. Visit your local parks and national park if you live near one – and find the color!
Here are a few fall portraits I’ve done over the years. For portrait photographers, this is the busiest time of year doing family photos because everyone wants the colorful leaves as the background.
If you need help with portraits, sign up for my FREE portrait photography email series CLICK HERE.
#6 – Get closer
Another tip for taking more interesting fall photos is to get closer. It doesn’t have to necessarily be macro photography, but close enough to eliminate all other distractions.
Along the same lines is pay attention to small things too. Looks for little bugs and small leaves and details and photograph them too.
Getting close can also help you make the background blurrier which will make the subject stand out more.
The image above is an example of how to do that. You can see how the trio of small leaves is sharp and everything else falls out of focus but adds to the image with color and framing.
#7 – Try a new technique
Fall is also a great time to try something new. Pick a technique you haven’t tried before and give it a go – with a fall twist!
How about doing some long exposures? Get out your tripod for this one, you’ll need it! Look for a small stream in the woods or a local natural park. See if you can find some nice yellow or red leaves on the rocks.
In the image above I actually looked for a leaf to put on that rock because there wasn’t one there and I wanted a little pop of the orange color. So don’t be afraid to move things around. Position that perfect leaf that you found in the best spot to feature it.
For more tips on long exposures read:
- Long Exposure Techniques for Creating Interesting Effects
- How to Create LONG exposures with a Neutral Density Filter
Another technique you can try is light painting. It’s super fun and we always have a blast doing it at my photography workshops. All you need is a tripod and a flashlight – a helper is handy too!
Both of the following images were done using simple light painting techniques.
Read more about light painting here:
- Fun With Light Painting at Home
- Night Photography Quick Tip – Adding Light
- Tips and Tools for Light Painting – Review of Light Painting Brushes
- Light Painting Experiments to Improve Your Photography
#8 – Process your fall photos
Okay now that you have some great fall photos, you need to enhance them, so don’t miss this last step!
Whether you are new to photo editing or have been doing it a while, make sure you process your best photos to bring out the colors and boost their impact.
Basic photo editing
Start with the basics. Make sure the subject stands out, and remove any distracting highlights in the background. Use the tools in your editing software to bring out the texture and detail in the subject.
Read more on that topic here:
- Using the Basic Sliders in Lightroom and Photoshop – a Comprehensive Tutorial
- How to Use Lightroom Radial Filters – A Comprehensive Tutorial
- How to use the Graduated Filters in Lightroom to Enhance Your Photos
- Photo Editing Challenge Day 1 – Quick Edits with Luminar AI
- Photo Editing Challenge Day 2 – Contrast and Tone Control
NOTE: If you are brand new to photo editing and have no idea where to start or how to go about it – CLICK HERE and sign up for my FREE 5-day photo editing challenge with a new video tutorial and my raw image to practice with every day!
Advanced photo editing
Mastered the basics already? Then you’re ready to try something more advanced.
How about a sky replacement, or adding a texture overlay? Here are a couple of examples of how those techniques enhanced some of my fall photos.
As I mentioned above, my brand new Bokeh Texture Pack will be available soon. So I just wanted to give you a little teaser to show you what you can do with them and how much fun it is to add some bokeh to your images.
I am also making a bokeh template collection for Luminar as well! When they are all available you’ll see a link here, so stay tuned!
Conclusion and challenge
Now it’s your turn to try it. Get out there and get some fall photos bursting with color! Please share your fall photos in the comments below. I’d love to see them!