How to capture the beauty of Autumn

Photography tips :

How to capture the Beauty of Autumn

October 2019

Autumn is a treat for most photographers with its misty mornings and rich colours.

The combination of glorious sunshine and a countryside ablaze with reds, oranges, yellows and browns means there’s no better time to go for a walk with your camera. 

So wrap up warm and get out among the elements! 

Here are 5 tips to capture autumn’s vivid colours, along with a few inspiring images from our photographers.

Timing is key.

The golden hours are sunrise and sunset. During these times, the sun is low on the horizon and filtered through atmospheric particles allowing warm light to pass through. Colours such as red and yellow become far richer when bathed in the warm glow of sunrise and sunset rays.

At these times the light is soft which adds a magical illumination to everything.

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Path to Borrowdale - By Tim Ball 

"Final shot before the sun disappears for the day behind the Maiden Moor."

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First light, Rydal -  By Tim Ball

"A very hazy sun which soom rose into clouds, sadly. Gorgeaous warm light and reflections for a while, thought i was hoping for some mist..."

Early mornings at lakes and ponds will often be still and a perfect time for photographing tree reflections. Along streams and rivers, you may get early morning mist rising from the water, creating a mystical scene.

Woodland and trees

A photographic walk through any woodland is a pure delight! 

Trees and woodlands are the most obvious subjects to photograph during autumn.

At this time of year the leaves change dramatically with an explosion of colour, giving you endless stunning photo opportunities with minimal effort.

But do not only focus on trees. Compose an image that draws the viewer through a scene - look for fields, gates, streams and tracks...                             

These will tell a story: Where does this path lead? 

The Autumn Esk - By Tim Ball

"The Autumn Esk looking downstream (...) Wonderful colours last Autumn"

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French Vineyards - By Anne Nosten 

The road is the leading line, bringing depth to the shot, while the soft light and the sky contrast beautifully with the vines.

Play with reflections

If you live in a busy city, look for the trees, explore your area to find the best ones for your photos!  

Tree-lined streets are great for symmetrical shots! Use the road or path as a leading line, drawing the eye into the image and creating a great sense of depth.

Change your perspective and look up! A tree full of colourful leaves and a blue sky are a great combination for an abstract photo. Take it further and add a foreground object or leading line into the mix. 

Head to a picturesque landscape, where reservoirs or lakes can create an evocative image. Closer to home, a walk through the park after rain will provide puddles as reflective surfaces. Landscapes reflected in water make for striking imagery.

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Mid morning reflections - By Tim Ball 

Mesmerizing reflections of a still lake, bringing a perfect symmetry to the shot.

Set the scene

Calm water will split the image in half to create perfect symmetry for a mirror-like reflection. 

Slightly choppy water with subtle ripples can potentially be flipped upside down to create a more abstract image.

Do not hesitate to leave trees out of the image and just capture a close-up of the water that’s reflecting some of those vibrant colours.

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Floating by - By Tim Ball

"Floating by unable to find inspiration for wide landscapes, i concentrated on the wonderful autumn reflections in the river"

Take time to compose your image, walk around the scene before shooting, see it from different perspectives.

Instead of merely shooting landscapes of colourful trees, choose the main subject and use the colours to enhance it. Don’t focus solely on the leaves on the trees, when they have fallen they can create a dazzling array too.

Winter is coming! This fact is full of emotions that most people can relate to, making your photographs more engaging.

Use fallen leaves, acorns or any other object to set up seasonal pictures and play with complimentary colours to create an atmospheric, moody or memorable photo.

Perfect time for close-up!

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Old bark - by Andy Shaw Collenette

unusual autumnal close up. wonderful texture work

Look down – at this time of year the ground (not floor) is a kaleidoscope of auburn, yellows and reds. Even the dry leaves have a lovely texture that can create incredible shots. A good option is to collect the leaves to photograph at home, especially in windy weather. You’ll have the added advantage of more control over the backdrop and lighting.

Tic-Toc - By Ulrike Winchester

Interesting composition, mixing a functional objects with natural, seasonal elements...echoing the passing of time.

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Direction with purpose - by Ulrike Winchester

fresh leaf with drops of water, the light softly accentuates the veins, creating an almost mystical effect.

Autumn is also mushroom and fungi season, so kneel down and get close!

Woodlands are the perfect place where weird and wonderful fungi in diverse colours and guises decorate tree stumps and make their home among fallen branches.

Be aware that fungi have a habit of growing low and in awkward positions, so be prepared and carry some protective groundsheets to avoid dirty clothes.

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A red forest shroom - by Ulrike Winchester

Close up with lovely complimentary of colours and textures

Other forms of nature are also very photogenic. Seasonal fruits and vegetables such as apples, berries, pumpkins, squash, chestnuts can be used to create interesting and organic indoor still-life images.

Look for pleasing arrangements of colour, shape and texture, and use a soft, diffused light for the best effect!

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No fuss snack - by Ulrike Winchester

If you are a fan of meal shot, do it with style! 

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Hedgehog - by Ulrike Winchester

Playing with  textures also helps to tell a story.

Here, the spiky shell contrasts with the softness of the conker nestled inside.

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Cauliflower season - by Ulrike Winchester

A novel way to shoot food! The delicate contrasting colours highlight the simple beauty of the subject.

''Winter is an etching,

Spring is a watercolour,

Summer is an oil painting 

and autumn is a mosaic of them all.'' 

- Stanley Horowitz

Wendy Warner