Photographing the Foliage: Tips for capturing the autumn splendor

© Paul Mozell

For those of us lucky to live in a part of the country where October’s burst of foliage color is most intense, it is hard to resist the urge to photograph the 2 or 3 week parade of orange, yellow, and red hues. There is always a compelling image just around the bend.

When is the best time for “leaf peeping”?

Although the PR folks who help fill the country inns and bed & breakfasts in Vermont and New Hampshire would like you to believe that Northern New England has the best fall color, they may be short-selling the rest of the East Coast. As a non-native New Englander I can testify to the brilliance of the trees in the Mid-Atlantic where I grew up. In fact, the foliage show extends all the way down to the Great Smokey Mountains. What does set the Northeastern states apart are the

Red Maples and Sugar Maples show off the most brilliant reds and intense yellows. The white church steeples of classic New England villages, help punctuate and isolate the changing colors. In the hilly or mountainous terrain of the region the highest elevations have the earliest color, while the valley levels below are still green. Our Rocky Mountain friends would argue that the hillsides of bright yellow Aspen leaves set against deep blue skies of the Teton or Wind River Ranges are equally impressive.

Tuckermine Ravine, Presidential Range, White Mtn. Natl Forest.

The first color shows up in Northern Maine and the Adirondacks in late September, with the fully developed trees making their statement during the first week of October. Peak color hits The New York/New Jersey area in mid to late October, and even later in the Smokies. It seems that global warming has delayed foliage time by as much as a week in some regions. If you have the time, plan a 2 or 3 week trip following the progression of peak color South.  You’ll return home with a large portfolio of colorful images. Beware the websites that offer what appear to be authoritative reports on fall color. I’ve found very few that are accurate.

Cloudy days, sunny days

If you are not blessed with dry, sunny days do not despair; a hazy or cloudy day has its merits. Shooting in the woods on a sunny day is often a prescription for blown out highlights and noisey shadows. Instead, find middle distance forest scenics or closeup shots of leaves, water, and bright berries that benefit from the soft light of a cloudy day. Use a tripod as often as you can and take care to select shutter speeds that won’t blur the windblown leaves and ferns in your composition.

Walden Pond with fall colors. Concord, MA
Walden Pond with fall colors. Concord, MA

You may prefer to use a polarizing filter to darken the blue sky, reduce reflections and increase contrast. But if the light is variable you may find yourself wanting to remove that filter to regain a stop and a half every time the sun is blocked by a cloud.

Finding strong compositional elements

As much as we are captivated by the autumn color,

Sugar Maples in fall color

 colors alone do not make good photographs. Put buildings, people, tree trunks, boulders and water in your compositions. Use foreground and middle ground objects to build perspective into your images. If the landscape is flat, exploit the two dimensional quality by using a long lens to isolate objects and patterns. Grey Birches (the species with the smooth white bark) will often be the defining element of a fall photograph. Use still green trees to counter the brighter colors of nearby trees. And always, always, look for reflections in still or moving bodies of water.

As the most colorful season draws to a close, photographic opportunities remain. The oaks whose colors are not as rich as those of the maple, remain on their branches after most of the beech, birch, and hickory leaves have fallen. Bright berries remain, and the shrub plants of Viburnam, Fireweed, Virginia Creeper, and Blueberry may still be bright red as well. Golden brown branches, grasses and cattails are warmed by late afternoon sun. Once you get past the cliched photograph of the covered bridge over the perfect Vermont river, Autumn photography has many secrets to reveal.

Epson SureColor P700 and P900 Professional Desktop Printers and Epson Print Layout Software for iOS Devices Now Available

Epson Print Layout Offers Epson’s First Fully Color Managed Workflow for iPhone and iPad Photo Printing

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. – Oct. 15, 2020 – Allowing for the creation of exhibition quality prints from the convenience of a desktop, Epson today announced the 13-inch SureColor® P700 and 17-inch SureColor P900 desktop photo printers are now shipping. The new compact desktop printers, which replace the SureColor P600 and SureColor P800 respectively, are the first models equipped with a new 10-channel MicroPiezo® AMCTM printhead, with dedicated channels for both Photo and Matte Black ink types, and new UltraChrome® PRO10 pigment ink* with Violet for an extremely wide color gamut. In parallel, Epson today released the new Epson Print Layout software for iOS®devices,1 allowing users to easily print directly from an iPhone or iPad in a full color managed workflow.2

“Using the new Epson Print Layout software for iOS gives me a greater level of flexibility and control to extend my workflow across mobile platforms,” said Vincent Versace, internationally renowned photographer. “It is the first iOS application that fully supports ICC profiles, allowing me to work in a full color managed workflow.”

Drawing from over 20 years of experience, the new SureColor P700 and SureColor P900 incorporate the same large format printing technology used by the world’s leading photographers. Leveraging a new 10-channel MicroPiezo AMC printhead, with dedicated channels for both Photo and Matte Black ink types, and new UltraChrome PRO10 pigment ink* with Violet the desktop printers deliver an extremely wide color gamut. The compact printers also support Advanced Black and White Mode to create unparalleled, professional black and white photographs and Carbon Black Mode which dramatically increases Dmax by up to 11 percent, for best-in-class black density and reduced bronzing and gloss differential on glossy papers. 

Learning to see: Reflections Are Everywhere

Often when I have run out of ideas when photographing a given location, I switch gears and look for unusual reflections. Sometimes I frame the shot so that it shows both the original subject and the reflection in the frame. But, most frequently, I frame just the reflection. Perhaps the viewer will be perplexed—unsure of what he/she is looking at. The longer they look at the photograph the better the value of the image.

Reflections in the Kezar River near the Hemlock wooden bridge in Fryeburg, Maine.
Reflections of a commercial fishing boat in Gloucester Harbor, Massachusetts
Reflections in a tanker truck parked on State Pier, Gloucester, MA
Reflection of a fishing boat in Gloucester Harbor

HDR Isn’t Obvious

Like so many photographers I was caught caught up in the HDR (high dynamic range) craze a few years ago. From time to time I made “grunge” photos and “artistic” images. Now, my goal is to use HDR tools less frequently, favoring selective image adjustment utilities in Photoshop and Lightroom….

Continue reading

Review: Lowepro Photo Sport BP 300 AW II

As a lifelong photographer and hiker I am on a never-ending quest to find the ultimate lightweight, customizable backpack to carry both my hiking and my camera gear. With the release of the Photo Sport BP 300 AW II, Lowepro shows that it is possible to accommodate the needs of adventure, outdoor, travel, and sports photographers who require nimble and flexible equipment.

Continue reading