How To Take The Best Fall Foliage Photos For Your Next Painting

By Nicole Tinkham

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Each season brings something new and exciting to spark your creativity and get some brilliant ideas flowing for your upcoming projects. Whenever you’re feeling stuck and just don’t know what to create next, turn to nature! With the changing seasons, there’s always something new to discover and try. We absolutely love the colors of fall and think this is the perfect time to get out there and be inspired. If you’re not a plein air artist, no problem! Here are 13 tips for taking the best fall foliage photos to help you with your next painting.

1.    Unique angles – Fall scenery photos have been done before, numerous times. They’re almost always brilliant but to mix it up a little try out different perspectives. Look up at the trees, get a close up, snap a photo from a distance, and just play around.

2.    Find color elsewhere (not in trees) – Gorgeous fall colors can be found in other areas besides trees. Think about the yellows and oranges reflecting in the water. You can still capture that color but in a unique way.

3.    Strategically scatter leaves for composition – Leaves fall randomly which we love! But if they just aren’t working for your photo, arrange them in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing.

4.    Look for a combination of colors – Don’t just focus on the oranges and yellows of the leaves. Also try to get in a nice blue sky for contrast or something else in the scenery that really stands out. Color is all around. Open your eyes to see the not so obvious.

5.    Look for cool effects – When a row of trees reflects in a body of water the effects can be really cool. If you spot this at just the right time (can’t have much wind!) snap a photo real quick.

6.    Scout out the perfect place – If you happen to be at the right place at the right time, perfect! But if you’re on a mission, don’t aimlessly drive around. Plan it out and know exactly where you want to go so you don’t waste your time blindly searching for the ideal location.

7.    Choose your time wisely – They say the best times to shoot are at dawn and sunset. At these times, the sunlight is at its warmest color so photos tend to come out really nice. But if your timing is off, don’t let that stop you. You can still capture amazing photos at other times in the day.

8.    Get the most of the whole season – There’s more than one type of scenery to capture in the fall. You have the moments when the trees are full, when leaves start to fall, when leaves pile up on the ground, and then when winter comes and the trees are bare. You have many opportunities to capture the different stages of fall.

9.    Slow down your shutter – This will help you capture movement in waterfalls and falling leaves.

10.    Tripods make life easier! You may want to invest in one to get the best scenery shots.

11.    Bring leaves home to play around with – The tricky thing with leaves is when they blow around out in nature. Instead of getting the job done there, grab some good ones and bring them back to the studio. You can arrange them and photograph them exactly how you want.

12.    Fall portraits – Get creative! There are so many fun ways to capture fall foliage in portraits.

13.    Other fall things – When we think fall, we typically think beautifully changing trees. However, there are other ways to portray the fall feeling. Think farmer’s markets and apple cider.

Don’t let this beautiful season pass you by! You don’t have to be a pro to get incredible photos, just follow these tips even if you’re working from your smartphone. Keep an eye out for interesting perspectives and beautiful colors. Even if you’re working on several paintings at the moment, it doesn’t hurt to snap a few photos to have for later use, like in the middle of winter when you don’t want to leave the house.

Tell us, have you taken any breathtaking fall foliage photos yet this year? We’d love to hear how they’ve helped you with your painting projects!

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