Friday, September 30, 2011

Photographing the Wonders of Fall Colors

In the northern hemisphere at this time of year there is a great transformation going on with our deciduous trees. Over a 2 week period beginning around the last week of September and then into the first 2 weeks of October the leaves start to loose their green photosynthesis properties and with the inherent nutrients left in the leaves, they come forward in brilliant hues of yellow, orange and red.

As the decay of the leaves continues, these brilliant colours fade to duller browns and yellows, but for a short time it is truly wondrous with the brilliant blanket that covers our landscape.

You would think its easy to go out and capture this kaleidoscope of colors. Simply point somewhere. Press the shutter button and instantly record the scene in front of you. It couldn't be easier. Yet when many people return back home and look at their images on the computer they are rare left wondering where the splendour went. This is really a trick with how the mind records the impressions we see. The mind is really like this perfect DOF instrument that seems to blur not important areas and keeps the key points strong and brilliant. The camera does not work this way.

It's best in many situations to think of the fall landscape as an abstract scene. Therefore, for larger vistas, examine the structure and flow of the patterns within this scene. It definitely is important to use compositional elements of lines and patterns formed by the color patterns to create visual interest within photograph.

With distant trees, use these colourful features to support other elements in the scene such as mountains, rivers or lakes with reflections. To give visual interest for the larger composition.
In many areas there are still lots of evergreens and the fall colors are only interspersed throughout the evergreen canopy. Therefore, you can also isolate specific patches of colour to give a more dominant interest to a patch of color.

Color can also be used to compliment other cooler colours of greens and blues.

At many times it's mainly the yellows that are dominant and any reds and oranges may be hard to find. Do focus on the yellows but provide other visual interests for viewer's attention. People many times will work.

Since the fall foliage is more like an abstract patchwork, don't forget to add in this abstraction with either camera movement or colorful reflections.

Reflections also provide a unique to isolate the complexity by providing context to a water scene.

The key is to get out and first observe and enjoy the splendour of nature. Try and understand what it is about this scene that intrigues you. Then find a solution with the camera that conveys these feelings in the final photograph.

Do forget other venues with fall and its celebratory events of food.

This image reminds me of Mother Goose and her Chicks.

Niels Henriksen


Scott Simmons said...

Nice post; goodadvice

Anonymous said...

That third image is gorgeous. I wish I'd been there to see the scene.

nielsp said...

Thanks for your kind words.

The 3rd image was taken late in fall when there was some ice on the pond and the sun was just rising above the horizon.

This meant that most of the light was from the sky and gave the rocks a blue tint, which compliments the warms tones of those trees.


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