We happen to live in an area that is an autumn tourist destination. Autumn in the Finger Lakes is awesome! The spectacular reds, oranges and yellows coat the hills and valleys, surround our beautiful lakes and turn our whole region into a spectacular sight. Our picturesque villages nestled in the valleys, our world renowned parks, and our back roads provide you with subject matter for your camera that is difficult to find anywhere else in the world. This is the best time of year to explore and experience the region.
How do we capture these images in their entire splendor?
The best time of day is early morning or near sunset. This is called the Golden Hour and is the photographer’s best friend. The landscape lights up when the sun is at a low position during the hours around sunrise and sunset, which results in a picturesque soft glow. This often gives a beautiful ‘pop’ to the vibrant autumn colors and can dramatically enhance the atmosphere.
Surprisingly, a misty, light rain can also enhance your images, giving them an ethereal feeling. Autumn isn’t a season where you can expect sunshine every day. Days are getting shorter and the weather is changing quickly, which normally means a lot of rain, fog and gray days.
These conditions may make you want to curl up in front of the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate but I urge you to get out of the comfort zone and head outside; this changing weather can lead to some amazing moments behind the camera. It’s also part of what’s special about this time of year, so why not photograph it?
A Circular Polarizer is your best friend for autumn photography, regardless of whether you’re photographing in the woods or a scenic vista. There are several benefits of using one but here are the most important:
It enhances the contrast & colors
It enhances the blue sky on clear days
It removes unwanted glare from rain and wet days
… and it allows you to use a slightly slower shutter speed, which is ideal when photographing rivers and streams.
If you do not have a polarizer filter, and not many do, go out and buy a cheap pair of non-prescription sunglasses and pop out the lenses. You now have two polarizer filters that can be placed in front of the lens of any type of camera. Be sure to rotate the lens until you get the best contrast.
Autumn photography is a highlight for many landscape photographers and it’s a time when there are endless of opportunities. However, the quickly changing light and conditions leads to many challenges and it doesn’t take more than a few mistakes before you have to wait an entire year to the next attempt.
But, as we all know, the little challenge can result in great awards. By taking your time when setting up the shot and experiment with the composition and perspective, you’re going to capture images that you can’t wait to share with the world.