Autumn—one of my favorite times of year—is coming on quickly here in eastern Oregon: The nights are cooler, and each morning, the air has a hint of crispness in it. As a photographer, this change in the weather brings with it the anticipation of fall foliage, and I find myself itching to head out to shoot. I have been scoping out locations, planning my time, looking for the peak windows, and getting my gear ready. I have also been chatting with Ben Long and Hudson Henry about the best approaches for capturing fall color. Among us, we have a few tips for getting the most out of your fall-foliage shots.
Hudson: Let light dictate your scene
Hudson has found himself in some amazing places during autumn, but he also finds inspiration in his home area of Portland, Oregon. Here are a few of his tips for getting the most out of fall color:
When I photograph fall colors, I let the light dictate my subject choice and composition. Overcast days are wonderful to work with fall color. Under clouds or fog I can shoot in deep colorful woods without the pesky highlights and shadows that get in the way on blue sky days. Just be sure to keep that dull grey sky out of the frame.
Puffy white clouds with blue between soften the highlights each time the sun passes behind a cloud, while allowing me to include the blue and white of the sky to offset the other fall colors I am photographing. On bright sunny days, I use a long lens to look for small details in shadows and reflections while avoiding any direct sunlight or sky in the frame.
I rarely leave my polarizer behind, but I always want it for fall colors. Polarizers don’t just add contrast to the sky and help control reflections, they also make fall colors more intense. This is especially true in a misty, wet forest of color. The polarizer cuts through the wet shine on the leaves allowing me to capture more saturation.
Finally, I’m not at all above carrying a particularly lovely leaf specimen to place in just the right spot in the frame. Props have been a part of photography since the dawn of the art, and if it helps me capture the image I’ve envisioned, then I’m all for it.
Last fall, when we released Hudson Henry’s Panoramas Made Simple, it was our intent to offer a companion volume, Advanced Panoramas, designed for photographers who wanted to go beyond the basics and create complex panoramas. In the end, Hudson and I decided that the advanced course made more sense as a video series than an ebook. (There will be extensive written cheatsheets to go along with the videos, however.).
Hudson is working on that course now, and he anticipates that it will be available in the fall of 2018. Here’s what he says about the new course:
The advanced course is for the photographer who wants to create complex, multiple-row and other specialty panoramas; ones that require extreme precision during the capture process. It will cover the equipment necessary for building these advanced panoramic images and how to calibrate your camera and lenses. It will also offer more advanced editing techniques utilizing Photoshop and other powerful software.
If you purchased Panoramas Made Simple, we’ll let you know when Hudson’s course is ready. If you didn’t purchase the book, and have been waiting for the advanced course, the best thing to do is register over on Hudson’s website; he’ll keep you up to date on that course, as well as any other cool things he’s doing.
[If parts of this post look familiar, I apologize. I posted a small bit about this at the end of the item about the upcoming 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography, but it appeared to have gotten lost in the shuffle, hence the repost.]
While both posts are specific to Photoshop, the first one (Working with Blend Modes) is useful for people using other layer- or effects-based apps with blend mode options, like ON1 Photo RAW, Skylum’s Luminar, and Alien Skin’s Exposure X3, among others.
(See our Bookmarks post from last fall for more about Julianne, and why we think she’s worth following.)
COMING SOON! The 9th edition of the original, best-selling guide to all things digital, Complete Digital Photography gives you everything you'll need to know in order to create great digital photos, from choosing a camera, to getting the best shot, to post-processing. Learn more
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