Fall is Fun for Photography–Tips for Great Landscape Photos

A Walk in the Autumn Wood

Fall is nearly here and this is just about the most beautiful time of year to get out and take some photographs.  Whether you’re photographing changing leaves or spectacular sunrises or whether you’re just out documenting our wild fall weather for posterity, there is always something interesting to see through your viewfinder.  Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your fall photography.

  • Have fun.  Photography is supposed to be fun.  It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t require thought, creativity and some degree of skill, but it’s supposed to be fun.  Why make photographs if it isn’t fun?
  • Learn about your camera before you head out on a picture-taking expedition.  Know what the settings are and whether you have any special features that might enhance your creativity. Yeah, it probably means you have to actually read the manual, but it WILL help you improve your photography.
  • Landscape rarely goes anywhere.  Take your record shot and get it out of the way.  Then, take your time and really look at your surroundings.  Move around a little bit and find a perspective or angle that captures the scenery in a different way.
  • Every photo does not need to be taken from eye level.  We all see the landscape at eye level.  Show it to me from an angle or point of view that I haven’t already seen.
mushroom, orange, toadstool, rocky mountain national park, colorado
  • Study and get inspired by the work of landscape photographers you like.  If you don’t know any start with Ansel Adams, Brett Weston, John Fielder and Thomas Mangelsen.  You don’t have to follow famous photographers.  One of my favorite landscape photographers is a man named Glenn Hohnstreiter.  His work always inspires me.  You can also do a web search (or an image search) for any subject you like.  For example, if you want to go photograph waterfalls, put that in your search. I got 14,000,000 hits on that one.
  • Make it your own.  Like most photographers I, too, take the iconic images.  Here’s one.  If you have a Windows computer, you’ve seen this picture on your computer.

It’s in Microsoft’s default image set.  Well, at least you think you’ve seen it.  I took this one.  I don’t know who took the Microsoft one.  Almost identical, aren’t they?   I and 6 bazillion other photographers have taken this picture.  This is what it looked like the morning I was there (it’s ok—they’re all my friends–and there were more who didn’t fit in the picture).

mesa arch, sunrise, canyonlands national park, moab, utah, photographers
mesa arch, moab, canyonlands national park, utah

After getting my “required” photo, I started looking around for other angles and views. 

  • Try going out at different times of day and in different weather.  Light plays a tremendous role in photography.  Most great landscape images are taken either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.  Mid-day light is rarely the best for landscapes—or portraits.  Spend a little time just observing the light outside your home or along the route to work. After a while, you’ll begin to see the differences in the way things look at different times.  The shadow angles can emphasize or de-emphasize different features.
Alvarado Autumn 1
Alvarado Autumn 1
No, your eyes do not deceive you. It is a photograph taken in my favorite pioneer cemetery, and one of the best places for fall color I’ve found.
  • Clouds and weather are great, too.  Blue skies are pretty, but clouds can add interest and drama.  I love to go out just before or just after a storm.  Just use common sense and be safe.  Rocks are slippery when wet.  Lightning hurts—a lot. Winds can gust strongly enough to sweep you off that cliff.
  • Finally, study your photographs when you get home. Not on the back of the camera, but full-size on the computer.  Figure out what you do and don’t like and what you could do differently to improve on your next outing.  And then print your favorites, hang them on the wall and share them with your friends.  Photography is meant to be enjoyed from start to finish and there’s no better way to enjoy a finished photograph than to see it and be inspired by it every day.  So be sure those photographs aren’t left to languish on your computer.
If you have photography topics or questions you’d like to see me blog about here, or even just feedback, be sure and leave me a comment below.
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Golden Autumn Leaves

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