Fall Colors Photography – Get Ready !


Over the last 20 years or so I enjoyed exceptional fall colors photography in the Laurentians.  Early on, in August, I am planning for the Fall Color Photography season.  Over the years I came to try new techniques in order to make these pictures more engaging.  This guide is based on my experiences and what I learned from others.

Time of day

Golden Hour

The Golden Hour is the best time to take Fall Foliage Pictures.  The golden hour is more or less the hour prior the sunset or after the sunrise.  In fact, the golden hour vary greatly as the latitude increase.  At higher latitude the sun is at a more pronounced angle.  The nice light associated with golden hour span for a longer time.

Since the light of the sun is entering the atmosphere at a pronounced angle, a greater portion of the blue light is bouncing off and this lead to a warmer light.  This in turn enhances the warm colors.  Moreover the light coming directly from the sun is less intense.  This means that we have to increase the exposure and this alone helps the shadows.

The shadow being longer and providing greater details help make the image more interesting to the eye, partly restoring the 3rd dimension in the scene.  This gave an impression of greater details.

As the brightness decrease, the perceived saturation of colors increases.  Colors are more vibrant and intense naturally.   Should you expose to the right “ETTR”, make sure you take the time to reduce the overall exposure in post-production.

Higher Elevation

Related Resources Time of day: Golden Hour
iTunes Apps Sun Surveyor
Android Apps Sun Surveyor
Picture Golden Hour Picture example
Book Photography: Complete Guide To Taking Stunning, Beautiful Pictures

Blue Hour

Panorama Oka Blue HourBlue hour photography occurs when the sun is just below the Horizon.   The sky has some light in it and only a few stars are visible.  As the direct light from the sun does not reach the foliage, the colors that were very vibrant are now muted.  There is an additional interest in having the sky very colorful on some days however.

This is a good time of day to create pictures using light painting techniques in order to restore the colors of the foliage.  Amongst the interesting option you can add light in behind the foliage and create a transparency effect.

It is also interesting to have a foreground interest a few inches away using a wide-angle lens.  Just a touch of light will bring the subject to life with the nice blue hour landscape in the background.

Do not hesitate to shoot multiple different exposures to create a composite or HDR with the foliage and the sky properly exposed.  Pay attention to avoid the Halo that is usually associated with HDR images.

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