For many photographers in the northern hemisphere, the Fall is a favorite time of year to go out and create some photographs. Leaving the sweltering summer heat in the rear view mirror, it’s much more comfortable for photographers to be out and about with their gear during the Autumn months without having to worry about sweating through their clothes every five minutes. Autumn also brings about a variety of changes that provide added visual interest for photographers. Once vibrant leaves take on hues of golden amber and deep crimson as the warming scents of spices from teas and baked goods fill the air. Pedestrians change their wardrobes to adapt to declining temperatures, while decorations for Halloween and Thanksgiving begin to adorn homes and store fronts. As long as you’re paying attention, there’ll be something of interest for you to photograph.
Be One with Nature
Go for a hike at a local park or a nearby trail. Capturing landscape images of the changing season as you’re taking in what mother nature has to offer can be incredibly relaxing. The crisp autumn air will keep you comfortable so you won’t have to worry about overheating as much as you would during the summer months. If you’re a hobbyist who’s just developing an interest in photography, start with the camera on your phone. If you’re feeling more adventurous, bring your camera with you along with lenses covering a variety of focal lengths, and perhaps even a tripod and some ND filters.
Another idea: hit up a local botanical garden and document the changing of the season by photographing the same flora over a period of time. Since you know the flora will be at the same location every time, you can focus on your composition without having to worry about tracking down the same subject in the wild. Find a river or waterfall nearby and create some unique long exposures. Once you’ve found a location that speaks to you during one of your excursions in nature, try photographing it during different times of day. For you early risers out there (props to all of you, because I definitely am not), have your gear packed and ready to go the night before, and make your way to that same location early the next morning so you can create some landscapes while the morning fog is still lingering in the air. You’ll be surprised at how the added visual interest will make a difference that to your final image.
Take Advantage of the Fall Colors
One of the most visually distinctive things about the Fall is the ever changing colors of the foliage. Shades of sage and chartreuse make way for warming oranges and fiery crimson. For the portrait shooters out there, be mindful of the changing color palette and the mood it evokes while you’re photographing people in nature. As visual storytellers, always remember that the best environmental portraits not only capture the essences of the subject, but conveys a story about the environment as well.
Take some time and learn about color theory, or brush up on it if you’re in need of a refresher. Get creative with complimentary as well as contrasting colors, and pay careful attention to your subject’s wardrobe and makeup. All of these details will help you create some truly stunning images that evoke a sense of Fall, or any other season for that matter.
It’s the Most Spooktacular Time of the Year
One of the reasons the Fall is so popular is the culture surrounding Halloween. Embrace the darker aesthetic and have fun in the darkness. You and your friends are going to dress up anyway; might as well make some fun portraits of yourself and your friends at the Halloween party while you’re at it. Afraid you’ll have one too many drinks and ruin your expensive camera gear? Get spontaneous and shoot instant film instead, just make sure you’ve got enough film to last the evening.
If you’re feeling extra creative, round up a couple of friends who like to cosplay and have an epic cosplay photo shoot. Get spooky with it and photograph in the fog like I had mentioned previously. If you and your friends are night owls, fear not. I am too, and I’ve got solutions for you and your foggy problem! If you’re photographing at a location with access to a nearby electrical outlet, bring a fog machine with you and create your own fog. If where you’ll be shooting happens to be more remote, instead of dragging a fog machine and a generator with you, some portable alternatives include aerosol fog sprays and smoke bombs. Just be mindful of where you’re using them so that you don’t end up causing a forest fire. But for the love of all that is holy, don’t be that person that screw things up for the rest of us. Don’t just leave used fog canisters and exhausted smoke bombs all over the place. Pick up after yourselves and leave the area as you found it.
What are some of the things that you like to photograph during the Autumn months? Be sure to share it with us in the comments. We’d love to hear your unique ideas.