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How To Take Pictures of Autumn Leaves

Updated on November 20, 2012

The most wonderful time of the year for picture taking is in autumn, when the leaves are changing their colors. This happens at different times all over the world but here in North Carolina it happened over the last couple weeks. The later into winter it gets the darker the leaves become and more bare the trees get. I've always loved the colors of fall. The greens, golds, oranges and reds are what make the trees so beautiful.

I got kind of lucky this year as our house is right on the edge of a forest type area. It's not a protected forest so I'm sure the trees will eventually be cut down due to growth but at least this year they were here for me to get some amazing pictures.

So how do you get those incredible photos of the color changes? It's not that hard, you just have to be willing to take a lot of pictures, go through those pictures to pick out the best ones, maybe do a little editing and you're done.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Flash, even during the day, brightens up a picture.Without a flash the picture remains darker.
Flash, even during the day, brightens up a picture.
Flash, even during the day, brightens up a picture. | Source
Without a flash the picture remains darker.
Without a flash the picture remains darker. | Source

Flash Vs. No Flash

Using flash while taking your pictures can sometimes help bring out more detail in a photo. Even when the sun is out or a warm cloudy day like mine was and standing far back from the trees the flash does make a huge difference. When I used the flash in the picture on the right it was on accident.

I had the camera set to automatic and because of the cloudy day it decided there needed to be more light on the picture. I like how it brought out the yellow and made it brighter but I would have preferred the reds a deeper color so I changed my mode dial to AV and tried again.

The second time I took the picture, the flash was off and you can tell in the picture that it made a huge difference. It darkened all the colors in the picture. Without using the flash it also took away a bunch of the detail of the trees that I liked with the flash on.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Portrait Vs. Landscape

When it comes to taking pictures there are two ways to take them, in the portrait and landscape positions.

Portrait pictures are taken with the camera held sideways. In a long up and down shot.

Landscape pictures are taken with the camera held normal. In the long sideways shot.

The main thing you want to look for when taking these different kind of pictures is what all you want in the picture and what your main focal point is going to be. Some pictures are best taken in landscape. Most landscape photos are taken this way because of the wide range it captures. With autumn photos you get a lot more of the colorful trees in the shot with a landscape photo. When taking a portrait photo of a tree it focuses on one or two main trees. You can capture more detail of one particular tree or color with a portrait shot.

When I'm taking pictures of autumn leaves I have a tendency to like the portrait shots best. I find the focal point and go from there. Below are two shots of an American flag that is by my house. I took one in portrait and one in landscape and the portrait one is far better in my opinion. It focuses on the tree with fall colors and also on the flag. In the landscape one the flag is kind of drowned out by the rest of the photo.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Portrait | Source
Landscape | Source

The most amazing part of taking pictures is the close up shots. The spots of different colors on the leaves and the details are what makes the colors so incredible. It's hard to believe that something that was once a dark green color could be gold, orange and red all at the same time.

While you are doing your close up pictures, you can take individual leaf shots or group shots. When doing group shots you should try a few different things:

  • Take pictures where everything is in focus.
  • Use the auto focus to only focus on the far away leaves.
  • Use the AV mode on your digital camera to change the depth of your picture. Blurring the foreground or the background depending on your focus.
  • Look for fruit left on the trees. Sometimes fruit or berries will be left behind after all the leaves fall off the branches. These could make for great pictures.
  • Look for pine cones. Pine cones make every picture a little more detailed.

Close Up of Leaves

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Click thumbnail to view full-size

Perfect Paths

When looking for the perfect spot to take fall photos, don't be afraid to go down the beaten path. Sometimes heading down that path or a road less traveled will bring you to the perfect spot for pictures. You can also get different angles on a tree (front, back, sides) that can show different colors of the leaves.

Make sure if you do go down a path you don't know you watch out for snakes, spiders, etc. I came across a little green garden snake while on my walk. Although they are harmless it was still best that I was keeping my eye out and didn't "panic" when I saw him. Also have a cell phone with you in case you fall or get hurt and can't make it back to the main road or your house. Better safe than sorry.

If you need a little more advice on taking pictures and how to use the mode dial on your camera you can check out my other hubs on photography below.

Some of my edited pictures

Click thumbnail to view full-size


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    • CassyLu1981 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      leahlefler - Thanks for your comment :) Made my day!

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      6 years ago from Western New York

      I love fall leaf pictures. My favorites are of brilliant leaves against a bright blue sky - the path pictures are my favorites!

    • CassyLu1981 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      teaches12345 - Awe, thanks :) I'm quite proud of my pictures I have taken. I've actually started my own little portfolio of them all. Thanks for stopping by and the comment :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      Amazing photography! I love autumn leaves and would love to take beautiful photos such as yours. Thanks for the tips and share.


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