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Tips for Great Fall Photos
 More of this Feature
• Pt. 1: Autumn in PA
• Pt. 2: Fall Driving Tours
• Pt. 3: Fall Hiking & Biking
• Pt. 4: Tips for Great Fall Photos
• Pt. 5: Western PA Fall Photo Gallery
 Join the Discussion
"What are your favorite places for leaf peeping?"
--Best Fall Color
 Related Resources
• Fall Festivals & Events
• Farm Markets
• Biking in Western PA
• Western PA State Parks
 From Other Guides
• How to Choose the Right Film Speed
• Camera Lens Filters 101
• Nature Photography 101
• Photographing Fall Foliage
• Photography How-To's for Experts

 Elsewhere on the Web
• Filters for Colored Film
• Ten Tips for Better Pictures

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 tripod.

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.

3. When to photograph:
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.

4. 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 leaves.

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.

Next page > Western PA Fall Photo Gallery

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