The gorgeous fall color of Western Pennsylvania is the perfect excuse for
you and your camera to get out and go exploring. The vibrant reds, deep
oranges and vivid yellows are sure to make any picture you take a pretty
one, but with a few tips you can learn to really maximize these colors and
create amazing photos.
1. The best film:
For the best fall colors use a slow film speed (ASA 100 or 200 speed
film). These provide the best color density of the print films, and
also allow you to make crisper enlargements. If the day is overcast,
however, you will need to use a faster speed film (ASA 400 or 800) to allow
for the lack of light. If you're looking for professional quality photos,
use slide film (Fuji
Velvia ASA 50 is recommended by many professional photographers) and a
2. Pictures that tell a story:
Don't try to capture everything you see. Pick out something which is
interesting or has some visual appeal (a tree, rock, split-rail fence,
building, covered bridge, etc.) and frame your picture with it in the
foreground (off to one side, not centered). This will
add great depth to your photo and provide the beautiful fall foliage with a
framework. Panoramas are great, but film never seems to do them justice.
Instead try to make each picture tell a story.
Early morning and late afternoon provide the most interesting light for fall
photos. The interplay of shadow and light can provide interesting depth in your
photos. Bright sun is just fine too - shooting into the sun so that trees or
leaves are backlit can really make those fall colors glow! Watch out for
situations where you have too much light, however. If you frame a picture with
too much bright sky, or too much sunlight streaming between fall leaves, that
might fool the camera's meter, leaving the rest of your picture too dark and
lacking in brilliant color. If you find yourself in this situation, just get in
a little closer and cut out some of that extra light. Focus on a section of
leaves against a rock wall, for example, rather than the entire tree.
Don't wait for the sun:
If your fall day is overcast, don't despair - grey days have a way of allowing
fall colors to pop out! Just make sure you don't allow your camera to get wet.
5. Special equipment:
If you have a camera which accepts filters, an inexpensive polarizing filter can
do wonders for cutting glare on bright days and capture brighter colors in the
leaves and sky. An enhancing or intensifying filter is another accessory which
will help you get bold photos, particularly when shooting the warm-toned fall
colors of yellow, orange and red.
6. Look for contrasts:
Include visually opposing colors in your photo for dramatic contrasts and more
intense color. A bright orange tree will look even brighter when photographed
next to a bluish-green evergreen.
7. Fall in motion:
Don't be afraid of windy days or rushing streams when taking fall photographs.
If you've got a camera with adjustable shutter speeds, try putting it on a
tripod and set your shutter speed for 1/2 second or longer - have fun
experimenting. This can create a neat blurred effect with water or moving
8. Colorful reflections:
Early morning is one of the best times to capture the color of fall reflected in
a pond or lake as the water is usually still and the light is coming in at a low
angle. Try to put something small in the foreground of your photo and focus on
that - this will leave the reflection leaving more soft and misty.
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