Autumn many landscape photographers’ favorite season… and for good reason. It is a magical time when entire landscapes transform into stunning displays of vibrant colors. The days are shorter, which means more sleep for the photographer, and the Golden Hour is longer, which means more opportunities for exploring and creating beautiful photographs. Fall photography presents some specific challenges though. So, I’ve put together these tips and photographs to inspire you as you prepare to get out and make your own beautiful Fall foliage pictures.
Choose Your Moment
To ensure that you are at the location of your choice at the right time, it’s a good idea to do some research beforehand. To predict exactly when Fall color will peak in any particular region is difficult, as it varies from year to year. Seasonal rainfall, winds, drought, and freezing temperatures or early snowfall will impact the date that trees change color and how long the leaves remain on the trees. In the Western U.S., such as Colorado or the Eastern Sierras in California, color peaks at higher elevations before lower elevations. On the East Coast, elevation is not so much of an influence and peak color moves North to South.
Since color varies from year to year, talk to the locals to find out where the best color is that year. State tourism organizations will often have information on peak Fall color. There are also Facebook groups that share news about local Autumn color, as well as other web-based forums.
There are a plethora of online resources to help you plan the timing of your trip. The Weather Channel is a good resource for predictive peak Fall color; The Smoky Mountain parks guide has a really cool interactive map; and, Discover New England has great information about East Coast color.
Ideally, you should complete your planning well in advance. If you can, get to your chosen region ahead of time to scout specific locations and make test compositions.