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10 Autumn Photography Ideas

Every season offers something unique for photographers, but autumn is extra special, which makes it an extremely popular time to head out and capture autumn colours photography. It is tempting to hop on a plane and photograph Aspens in Colorado or the forests of Bavaria, but some of the best autumn colour in the world is right here on your doorstep.

10 autumn photography ideas

We’ve put together 10 autumn photography ideas, which are packed with tips and inspiration to help you capture the most beautiful images of this colourful season. We highlight some of the best camera accessories to make your colours pop and capture the beautiful atmosphere, which is prevalent at this time of year.

Whichever style of photography you enjoy from portraits to landscapes and macro, these autumn photography ideas will inspire you, as will Gareth’s video, which is full of tips for how to take batter autumn photos to amaze your followers.

Sunball in the mist during golden hour

Sunball in mist Sony a7R III with Sony FE 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 GM lens @244mm. Settings: 1/200sec. f/8. ISO 100

  1. Photograph during golden hour

Autumn colours are beautiful at any time, however you’ll capture more vivid colour during golden hour, which is best to take pictures in the autumn. There’s also noticeably less intense contrast during golden hour and with directional light you’ll see more prominent texture for an all round beautiful autumn photo.

Treelined road in colourful autumn with light beams

Treelined road in autumn mist Sony a7R III with Sony FE 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 GM lens @100mm. Settings: 1/4sec. f/8. ISO 100

  1. Rays of sunlight

Try and find a composition if you notice rays of light through tree branches during damp autumn conditions. Directional rays of light can highlight your subject and create interest in any image, particularly when surrounded by autumn foliage and bright colour.

Wild mushroom surrounded by fallen leaves

Wild mushroom close-up Sony a7R III with Sony FE 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 GM lens @265mm. Settings: 0.4sec. f/8. ISO 100

  1. Pumpkin patches and apple orchards

Autumn is all about colour and what better way to show off colour than with pumpkins, apples and other harvest goodies. If you can get to a local farm ask the owner if you can take some pictures (ideally during golden hour) and capture trees bursting with ripe fruit.

Solo colourful tree with red leaves

Solo tree in autumn Sony a7R III with Sony FE 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 GM lens @268mm. Settings: 1/45sec. f/5.6. ISO 100

  1. Food photography and still life

Autumn is the perfect time to set up a still life or food photo with natures bounty all around to add a rustic quality to your picture. Add colourful leaves, twigs and contrasting colours to your scene and use studio lighting or natural light from a window to create atmosphere.

Autumn forest scene in mist

Misty autumn scene Sony a7R III with Sony FE 24-70mm F/2.8 GM lens @70mm. Settings: 1/13sec. f/6.3. ISO 100

  1. Autumn landscape photography

Head to your local landscape to capture autumn colours photography and misty conditions, which are more common at this time of year. With colder air passing over damp leaves and wet ground you’ll find scenes packed with misty atmosphere to complement colourful leaves which are all around.

Try different compositions by shooting from high or low angles, look up and down and to find interest as well as close-ups with macro or tele-macro images using a telephoto lens. Isolating your subject against out of focus backgrounds can help to separate distractions as can leading lines, which could be roads, farm crops or tree lines. Natural framing with leaves and branches also makes for an interesting autumn composition, especially when we have rich colours to help lead the eye.

Autumn landscape photography misty view

Distant misty autumn view (4x5 crop) Fujifilm X-T2 with Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F/2.8 R LM OIS WR lens @164mm. Settings: 1/100sec. f/4.8. ISO 200

  1. Fog and misty conditions

Fog and mist are prevalent during autumn, particularly when photographing near water sources like rivers, streams and waterfalls. Try using a wider aperture for a shallow depth of field during fog, to create even more atmosphere, while any autumn colours around the frame become the icing on the cake.

Autumn reflections in the water with colourful trees

Autumn reflections Fujifilm X-T2 with Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F/2.8 R LM OIS WR lens @90mm. Settings: 1/8sec. f/8. ISO 200

  1. Bokeh balls and reflections

Look for light sources behind your subject and shoot with the widest aperture on your lens such as f/2.8 to capture atmospheric bokeh balls and smooth backgrounds. Reflections also come to life in autumn, with colours shimmering across a puddle or pond, especially when it’s misty.

Tree tunnel in autumn

Autumn leaves in tree tunnel Fujifilm X-T2 with Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F/2.8 R LM OIS WR lens @87mm. Settings: 0.4sec. f/8. ISO 200

  1. Use leaves and throw them around your subject

If you’re capturing a portrait try picking up handfuls of leaves and throwing them into the air whilst shooting at different frame rates to see how they look in the photo. A fast shutter speed will freeze the leaves mid air, whilst a slow speed will show as blurry leaves.

Looking up into yellow leaves in trees

Looking up into autumn trees Nikon D810 with Nikon AF-S 14-24mm F/2.8G ED lens @16mm. Settings: 1/100sec. f/8. ISO 64

  1. Use a circular polariser for autumn leaves

Autumn colour is a beautiful sight, however our cameras can have a hard time capturing the colours on wet leaves and damp foliage. Leaves are often wet because of moisture in the autumn air and from rain, which is why a circular polariser is essential when photographing autumn leaves.

Polarised (bottom) vs Non polarised (top) leaves

Polarised (bottom image) vs Non polarised (top image) autumn leaves

Circular polarisers are the secret weapon when people ask how do you take autumn photos. They are available in all sizes to suit different sized filter threads on camera lenses although some, like the innovative H&Y circular polariser will fit several thread diameters. When photographing wet leaves simply twist the polariser to reduce glare, which simultaneously increases contrast and saturation. The effect is particularly noticeable after rain and you’ll see just how much effect it can have, with your photos bursting with rich colours when using a polariser.

Leading line with road in autumn

Autumn road Sony a7R III with Voigtlander 65mm F/2 Macro Apo-Lanthar Lens Sony E. Settings: 0.8 sec. f/8. ISO 100

  1. Best accessories for autumn photography

As well as a circular polariser it’s helpful to have a selection of photography accessories when capturing autumn. Depending on what you are shooting, these simple accessories are the best equipment you need for autumn photography and will help to elevate your images and highlight the atmosphere during this beautiful season.

  • Neutral density filters are used for long exposures, which can look great when photographing moving water. If you’re lucky enough to visit a river or waterfall during autumn, an ND filter can smooth the water and create a long exposure effect of any swirls and patterns moving in water.
  • A travel tripod, general tripod and a mini tripod are particularly useful if you’re going to be in the shot, as well as for low light photography. Mini tripods like a Joby GorillaPod 3K kit can be wrapped around tree branches as well as surface-standing. You could also make a timelapse while capturing your main photos and shoot group shots and landscapes with a tripod.
  • A camera remote control is especially useful when shooting self portraits or timing your shot. Many cameras feature a self timer mode and interval shooting, but a remote control gives you ultimate control over the timing of a shot.
  • A portable LED light or an off-camera flashgun and trigger system can help to pop colours and allow you to shoot fast enough to freeze action, such as when throwing leaves into the air. Lighting can add drama, brighten a dark image and draw the eye to the subject in a frame.
  • Camera rain covers are a good idea if shooting during particularly wet conditions and when photographing waterfalls, which can spray mist onto your lens. You should always pack a lens cloth and why not consider a red lens cloth for this time of year!
  • Bring a range of different focal length lenses to switch up your compositions and change between portraits, landscapes and macro photos to capture close-up leaves, mushrooms and other autumn delights.
  • Use a lens hood, which can be purchased from lens accessories in order to enhance contrast and reduce flare when shooting towards sunlight. The sun is lower at this time of year and backlighting can dramatically reduce the quality of a shot without a hood.

Take Stunning Autumn Photos Video

Bonus autumn photography ideas

Some bonus autumn photography ideas include pet and wildlife photography, which can be enhanced by capturing your subject in the elements, whether rainy or windy conditions amongst autumn colour.

You can also use props to complement colours – perhaps complementary coloured clothing you could wear, or perhaps a red umbrella and colourful scarf. Anything which catches the eye can make a good picture even better and is fun to do with friends.

Last but not least always shoot photos in RAW. It is incredibly easy to change white balance and other global settings when processing RAW photos, to instantly see how your images are affected.

We hope that you found inspiration from this post to head out and capture your own beautiful photos this autumn. Photography is all about fun and creativity, there’s no right or wrong way to go about it, nor does every image have to be perfect especially when you enjoyed making it.

All photos © Nick Dautlich

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By Nick Dautlich on 24/09/2022

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