These 6 Tips Will Get You Shooting Stunning Scenes This Autumn


Beautiful Autumn Pictures – Your Guide To Getting Them, First Time Around

For us who inhabit the temperate climes of the Northern Hemisphere, it is a time of golds, yellows, mist and moods. Autumn adds up to a veritable picture fest for us photographers – getting those beautiful autumn pictures is an opportunity each year not to be missed!

beautiful autumn pictures
Image by Valentin Sabau

With so much color yet fickle weather it can be both a great time to shoot and a difficult time to shoot. There is also the question of what to shoot with so much going on around you.

Today we are going to give you our top tips for taking beautiful autumn pictures.

1. Never Mind The Weather

Fairweather Photographers: Whilst we often seek the sun, autumn is a time when the misty and overcast days can really enhance your images. In fact its also a time when you don’t have to get up before the break of dawn to shoot.

Gray, misty overcast days make a fantastic juxtaposition to the saturated bright oranges, reds and yellows of an autumn day.

Top Tip!

Keep an eye on your histogram when shooting, it is very easy to oversaturate the reds making them look appear blown. Use the RGB section of your histogram and if you see the reds slipping off the right side, back down the exposure a little.


Autumn is great in most types of weather. By Caspar Kleijne

2. Nailing The Exposure, Every time 😉

Because of the (higher) chances of gray overcast days, it is very easy to over-expose the sky. There is nothing worse than a beautiful image of fall foliage spoilt by a white, clipped sky.

It's a tricky balancing act trying to get the foliage to punch out whilst maintaining the sky. Err on the side of caution, underexposure to keep the skies in check. This will also add more punch to your colors!

Because you may well be shooting in fairly low light, make sure you keep your shutter speed up if shooting handheld. Even a slight breeze will rustle leaves in trees leading to shoots that can look blurred.


Keep the skies in check. By Chris

Wanna Get Creative?

Sometimes, photographing images in the fall is not about anything other than having your creative mind with you.
This Guide from Photzy will help you bring out that innovative photographer inside you!

3. Finding Idyllic Locations

A national park full of evergreen trees is not going to give a good impression of autumn yet a city park full of varied deciduous trees will.

Choosing the right place to shoot autumn shots is vital. By choosing locations that have different types of deciduous trees you will get shots that have that lovely variation of different colors.

Top Tip!

You are also looking for locations where you have openings to shoot the trees, space to work in. Getting above the trees either on a hillside or with a drone will open up further colorful vistas and give you different perspectives.

Don’t forget to get down low too, the carpet of golden leaves can make a great shot in itself or lead your eye to another subject in the shot.

Don’t ignore cities either. Parks, gardens and avenues are abundant with autumn photographic opportunities!

Water is another great complement to autumn photography. Rivers and lakes reflect the golden leaves whilst a simple autumn leaf floating in the puddle of recent rain can make a great shot.


Deciduous and Evergreens contrast each other. By Ian Sane

4. Step Back And Think Small

It is easy to get caught up the grand sweeping vistas of autumnal landscapes to the detriment of the details. Sometimes, getting beautiful autumn pictures just requires…simplicity. A single golden leaf on a monochromatic background can look stunning.

Add a few early morning raindrops and you are on to a winner. The contrast between varying colors of leaves also makes for great compositions.

If you have a macro lens, go even closer. Close ups of leaves backlit by the low autumn sun can also make great subjects.


Look for the details. By Ian Sane

5. Timing: When To Go

Timing is critical. In most places, the window of opportunity for great shots is at best two weeks, in some places less. The problem is the actual best time often varies from year to year depending on the late summer.

Keep an eye on the leaves where you are and make your judgments on them. If you are staying local, then it's easy to work out when to shoot. If you intend to travel to capture autumn then you need to factor in whether the location is generally warmer or cooler than where you are and its relative altitude.

Top Tip!

Autumn will come sooner at higher altitudes and cooler locations.


The golden season has an unpredictable timeframe. By Ian Sane

6. Be Prepared: What To Take With You

Long telephoto lenses often work well in autumn. You can isolate trees with different colors within a scene. The compressed perspective makes helps flatten the trees giving the feeling of a wall of color.

Standard zooms are also a good option allowing you to capture wider scenes.

Autumn is a great time for using filters.

  • Polarizers can punch out a blue sky contrasting the golden colors.
  • Graduated ND filters allow you to hold autumnal skies and maintaining the colors in the foliage. Opt for soft edge grads rather than hard- edged as tree-lines will have trees of different heights.
  • Ultra neutral density filters such as Big Stoppers are great for creating that ethereal effect in water, the creamy white water making a wonderful contrast the colors of the trees around.

A tripod is also a very useful tool to take. It will allow you to keep the camera steady, especially when shooting macros or ND shots.

Lastly take some waterproofing both for yourself and for your equipment. As we said at the top, autumn weather can be very fickle and a dry day can change to drizzle in a moment. So be prepared!


Autumn is a special time of year for us photographers. And capturing those beautiful autumn pictures is a one-off opportunity in that short window of time each year.

It is a time when sunshine is not a prerequisite for colorful images. It is a time when sunrise and sunset are at civilized hours making it easier for us to capture to morning mist.

It is a fleeting season but a beautiful one. Check outside your window first and see if is or it's not time to shoot. If it's not, perhaps an hours drive away could just remedy that.

Top Takeaways

  • Look outside and take note of your surroundings in the weeks leading up to what appears is a changing of the season!
  • Be prepared, by having the right gear (i.e. the lens(es)) and knowing which exact location you feel will be a worthy spot for your images.
  • Step back and don't get caught up (too much to the point of “overwhelm”) in the mesmerizing colors, but to gather yourself and focus on one thing, no matter how simple – sometimes the simple things (single, lonely leaves) can make the most gorgeous and compelling photographs!
  • Enjoy the time away from the viewfinder too. Take in the beauty, breathe in the surreal atmosphere of where you are.

Further Resources

Further Learning Material

Sometimes, photographing images in the fall is not about anything other than having your creative mind with you.
This Guide from Photzy will help you bring out that innovative photographer inside you!

About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here.

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