Whether this is your first or fiftieth fall in Colorado, get ready because over the next few weeks you’re likely to become a peeper. A leaf peeper that is.
North Carolina or Vermont natives might beg to differ but many of us at Kentwood are staking a claim right now to Colorado having the best fall colors in the nation. Really, what could be more breathtaking than a mountain range blanketed with Aspens drenched in yellows, oranges and reds? There are lots of great destinations around the state for peeping that require an overnight bag if you live in Denver. Steamboat and Telluride immediately come to mind. If you only have one Sunday, try peeping in Rocky Mountain Park or Kenosha Pass. Don’t wait because even though the colors got off to a late start thanks to the warm summer, by November those limbs will be bare.
But today’s post isn’t about where to find the leaves. Since so many of us love taking pictures of the fall colors, we consulted with a professional photographer for nine tips on taking the best photos. The good news is that whether you’re using your phone or a fancy camera – these all apply to you.
- Rather than putting your subject in the middle of the frame, try the rule of thirds. No, this isn’t a geometry lesson. This is the composition trick used by pros around the world. Divide your frame into thirds, both from left to right and up to down, and place your subject at any of those points where the lines intersect. That is inherently more interesting to the eye than the center.
- When you’re surrounded by epic vistas, sometimes the best pictures are small. Start by looking down. Those three leaves floating in a puddle by your feet are just as dynamic a shot as an entire mountainside. Some might consider it a cheat, but you can even sprinkle some leaves on the hood of your car, a log, or boulder. Or, take a few ounces of water and splash some dry leaves. Voila. Colors are richer and the light reflects even better. Misting your subject with water works even better. Now, get close. Really close. That’s what a macro lens is all about, and fall leaves were made for it. The veins in the leaf will be more pronounced because of the color.
- Try laying on the ground directly underneath a tree and pointing straight up. The change in perspective will give you pictures you never knew you could take. And if the sky is bright blue, the contrast with the leaves will be magical. Experiment with putting something in the foreground or along the side of the frame, like a tree trunk, an arm or a leg; these draw the eyes deeper into the image and add some whimsy.
- Try shooting directly into the sun. Be careful, we don’t want you to hurt your eyes, but if you aim your camera just right, the sun will shine right through the leaves instead of onto them. The backlight makes the leaves positively glow. Just make sure there isn’t a flare in your lens. If there is, hold your hat or a magazine above the camera to shield the lens from the sun.
- Pay attention to all those white branches and trunks. How do they relate to each other? Sometimes the real picture is in the patterns, not the colors.
- Don’t give up if it’s an overcast, rainy or foggy day. Bundle up and get out there. Sometimes those less than ideal conditions are ideal for incredibly saturated foliage images. Overcast days nicely fill in shadows and tamp down hot spots. Keep your eyes peeled for rainbows too.
- Get that portrait you’ve always wanted. Whether it’s a headshot for work or just a family photo, try to frame people so that all you see behind their faces is out of focus. And, whatever you do, make sure a tree trunk in the background isn’t coming out of the subject’s head.
- Find A Lone Tree. Sometimes the power of the color is amplified by the minimalism. And, of course, there are all the profound literary concepts elicited by one solitary tree.