For nature enthusiasts, fall is the season of leaves. The trees in temperate areas turn a dazzling variety of colors, and when combined with misty mornings or bright, cloudless blue skies, they can make for some unforgettable pictures. Some photographers make their living shooting fall foliage, and while you’re unlikely to match their skill without years of practice, you may be able to get some unforgettable shots if you take advantage of the following tips.
– Plan ahead. More extreme climates get cold first, so their leaves turn earliest. In the northeastern United States, the leaves turn first in the north and at higher elevations. You should also have an idea of where you want to shoot, rather than just jumping in the car and hoping for the best.
– Talk to people who know. Locals watch the leaves turn in their area every year, and some of them may know the best spots for spectacular views. When you stop for gas or a snack, ask the storeowner for tips on where you can find a good place to shoot. Treat the locals well, and you can get great insider information.
– Take care on back roads. Not all roads in rural areas are created equal, and Google Maps or your GPS don’t always know the difference between a paved road, a dirt road in good repair, and a washed-out mess you’d need a tank to traverse. Back roads can also require slow speeds, so if you plan to take them, allow plenty of extra time, especially if you want to stop and snap pictures along the way.
– Play the weather. Sometimes “bad” weather provides magical photographs. Mist and fog might be unpleasant to stand in, but you’ll quickly forget about that when you’re watching a covered bridge and a bright orange maple tree fade in and out of the fog. Storms can also provide amazingly vivid light just after they pass, so don’t be afraid to go out when it’s wet.