Fall Foliage Photography Tips

The cool, crisp winds of autumn are upon us, bringing with them hues of red, gold, orange, and yellow in the Susquehanna Greenway. Inspired by one of the most photographic times of year, we’ve pulled together some tips for capturing the best fall photos in our region. So, grab your cameras, get out on the Greenway, and catch those last snaps of autumn!

 

Get Above the Trees

With the coming of fall, the transition from green to hues of gold, orange, red, and yellow can be seen just about anywhere. Still, the best place to witness the foliage is from a bird’s-eye view. Get up high, whether it be by hiking or driving up a windy mountain road to best capture the canvas of color below. Hyner View State Park offers a scenic vista where you can see vast distances over the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and surrounding mountains. The Susquehanna River cutting through plateaus, coupled with bridges and houses nestled within the fall landscape all make for a scenic photo. 

A close up of a lush green hillsideDescription automatically generated

Photo by Scott Hafer

Frame the Shot

More often than not, composition makes an image. The “Rule of Thirds” is one of the most well-known rules for composition. It goes like this: Imagine breaking your image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so that you have nine parts. You will likely see this grid when you look through the viewfinder of your camera. By placing points of interest in the intersections or along the lines, you will be able to capture more well-balanced and interesting shots. In the photo above, taken at the Pinnacle Overlook, you can see how interesting the composition becomes it adheres to the Rule of Thirds. 

A tree in front of a sunsetDescription automatically generated

Photo by Mark Boyd

Capture the Golden Hour Glow

The best times of day to really make the fall colors pop are at sunrise and sunset. The sun’s low position during these times will create a picturesque golden glow, bringing out the reds and yellows of the fall foliage. Take advantage of the precious golden hour minutes before they pass, and try to capture the sun grazing the horizon, filtering through the trees, or reflecting off of the water, as shown in this picture, taken at Chickies Rock Overlook Trail. To avoid missing out on the fleeting beauty, check online to see what time the sun will set in your area.

A sunset over a body of waterDescription automatically generated

Photo by Adam Hoke

Find Fog

While golden hour light is ideal, shooting on foggy or overcast days can capture images of a different kind of beauty. Fog and clouds diffuse light, helping to reduce the harshness of mid-day sun and causing the landscape to be more evenly lit. This gives your image a soft glow and brings attention to objects in the foreground. As in this photo taken at Marie Antoinette Overlook, find an object in the foreground to help create depth in the image. The fog or clouds in the background will make the foreground stand out, especially as the bright, fall leaves contrast the gray sky.

A tree with a mountain in the backgroundDescription automatically generated

Photo by SGP staff

Control the Focus

Emphasize the foliage this season by controlling the focus on your camera. Use a wide aperture (low f-stop) to sharpen items in the foreground and blur the background, as done in this image at Shikellamy State Park. This will help you to accent leaves, bushes, or trees in front of you and bring out the beauty of the fall hues.

A sunset over a body of waterDescription automatically generated

Photo by Ryan LeBreton

Include Architecture

While mountains covered with vibrant leaves are strikingly beautiful, your camera may not be able to capture them to the fullest. Consider incorporating other elements into your composition to give your photographs character and emphasize the vivid fall hues. Architectural elements such as barns, bridges, and backroads, positioned with the fall landscape, add interest to the image and engage the viewer. In this image, the photographer used the Rockville Bridge to draw the viewer’s eye from the colorful flora in the foreground to the mountain in the background.   

A bridge over a body of waterDescription automatically generated

Photo by Wendy Shelly

These are just a few tips to help you make the most of your time photographing the vibrant hues this season. We hope that these inspire you to #GetOutOnTheGreenway and capture the essence of fall. It’s never too early to start photographing for our 9th Annual Photo Contest, accepting submissions starting April 1, 2020! 

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