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Autumn Stories

Autumn Stories

The Finger Lakes in autumn means color. Reds, orange and yellow explode across the hillsides. The colors are reflected in the water. Birds are migrating. Nature is at its most glorious.

Here are a few things to consider when trying to capture this time of year:

Make a Mirror Reflection

Pick a day with no wind for those mirror-like reflections of autumn color in water. But look for something interesting to also break the mirror like a log or a rock in the foreground to provide a resting place for your eyes.

Another key factor: the angle of the light. Sunrise, when the first light strikes the peak autumn color. Plan for sunrise and sunset to capture moody autumn shots—midday sunny weather won’t provide nearly as much drama.


On the other side, Fall often brings cool and moist conditions— a magical recipe for fog, morning dew, and striking sunsets and sunrises. I love it when so-called bad weather moves in, as unstable weather; it makes for dramatic images.


Now is the time to go see a waterfall. Autumn color is a perfect frame for them. Another image to try is the leaves swirling through a small waterfall. To get that soft, dreamy look to the waterfall, try setting your camera to the “night” mode, but remember to have your camera on a steady surface like a tripod or a rock. Trying to hand hold your camera in a “long” exposure will show shake.

Color Combinations

Capture combinations of color. For example, point your camera up through the colored leaves and get the blue sky and puffy white clouds. To get these colors to really stand out, use a polarizer filter on your camera. If you don’t have a polarizer, use a pair of polarized sunglasses in front of your lens. Rotate the filter/sunglass until you see the deepest blue in the sky

It’s Not All About the Leaves

In a sense it is, but it isn’t. You do want to photograph the color of fall foliage, but think of all the millions of pictures of leaves out there or single tree shots with bright colors. Think outside the box; think about the essence of fall and adding something extra to your shot. Go into the woods and photograph fog, mushrooms, moss, rivers, winding roads, also the town where you live as it prepares for the season, people sipping on hot drinks, kids playing in piles of leaves, Fall festivals, etc.

On a different note, this is a great time to get portraits of the kids, grand-kids, nieces, nephews, actually children in general. They are full of energy after school, get outside with them and capture some of that energy. A child, or a group of children playing in a leaf pile on a sunny afternoon is a wonderful memory. Set your camera on the “Running Man” or “Sport” setting stop the action with all the leaves in the air. Add a dog to the mix and the excitement ratchets up a notch. This is exactly what that sport setting is for.

Another opportunity is getting ready for Halloween. Carving pumpkins [use the portrait setting and turn on your flash], or kids in costume with the color, excitement and energy of it all are memories they and you will cherish. Get them outdoors and have them play act or make funny faces.[try using your flash outdoors to fill in shadows and brighten colors].

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