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Fall Photography - Images, Ideas and Tips

Updated on October 21, 2016
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Cynthia is a writer, artist, and teacher. She loves studying language, arts and culture and sharing that knowledge.

I loved the red tones in this image, especially near the river.  The water created a beautiful backdrop for this foliage.
I loved the red tones in this image, especially near the river. The water created a beautiful backdrop for this foliage. | Source

Fall Colors

If you’re one to enjoy the fall colors, western North Carolina – where I live – is a haven for beautiful fall foliage. The mountains abound with deciduous trees, the kind that lose their leaves, in the fall.

The leaves turn every color imaginable: red, orange, yellow, gold, midnight, grey, and tones of brown and the result is a color show that is eye candy. These colors usher in autumn with sights, scents and even sounds that are strongly associated with the season.

It’s always fun to try to capture this color brilliance on camera. With a few tips and tricks, you will have friends and family marveling at your photography. If you’re like me, you can get proficient enough at it, that you can sell your items on different products.

The sun is shining through the trees.
The sun is shining through the trees. | Source

Do You Edit Your Photos?

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Fall Foliage - Tips to Take Great Pictures

  • When going out and taking photos of fall scenes, one of the first things you can do is to be observant. This requires that you don’t talk much, but instead spend time looking at your surroundings. Ask yourself these questions:

What looks interesting? Are there any beautiful patterns? How do the colors play together?

  • The next step is getting your camera ready. Depending on the type you have, you’ll need to use some of the different settings to see unusual ways of capturing color. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with these camera functions before going on an outing so that you’ll know what types of scenes will work best with the subject matter you choose.

For example, many cameras have a “landscape” function and a “macro” setting for flowers and foliage. The landscape setting is designed to use a wider angle and the camera focuses on distant objects.

On the macro setting, the camera will focus on objects that may be only a few inches away. For many, these automatic settings are just fine. As you get more proficient, you can have a lot more fun using the manual settings on your camera.

I used the macro setting to get a close-up of these leaves.
I used the macro setting to get a close-up of these leaves. | Source

Be Willing to Experiment

  • When you start to take pictures, don’t be afraid to do a little experimenting.Sure, you always want to capture that beautiful landscape scene, but sometimes, taking a close-up of a leaf yields a spectacular shot.
  • You also want to consider the light. The mid-day sun creates a stark contrast between lights and darks, and can often wash out colors. Sometimes, however, you can capture that perfect shot, even if the light is bright. If you’re photographing something in the woods, then the bright mid-day sun might be really helpful.

For example, you can try and get the sun to “streak” through the foliage as I did in the image below. Had this particular shot been out in the open, I would have had a very washed-out, bright image. Instead, I created an interesting scene with the sun streaking through the forest.

  • Cloudy days are great for creating more subtle contrast between colors. The danger is that you can also get a “flat” looking image. By taking a lot of pictures and trying different focal lengths – on many cameras, you can adjust the zoom levels on the lens – and different compositions, you can often get a number of great images.
  • Limit your use of flash. Often, flash can create bizarre shadows and a ghost-effect when photographing people in a scene, for example. Sometimes, however, if the light is behind your subject, using the flash can illuminate the darker side of it.

In the picture below, the sunlight was high in the sky and I was looking up at the leaves. Without the flash, they were dark, but with the flash, I was able to lighten up the detail of the leaves considerably.

I used a fill-flash to allow these leaves to show up against the sky.
I used a fill-flash to allow these leaves to show up against the sky. | Source

More Tips - Water

  • Photographing water can be tricky. A beautiful scene can otherwise look dull if you don’t “add” something to it. Capturing water so that it looks smooth requires a tripod and special camera filters. If you don’t have those, you can still take stunning photos with water in the composition.

It’s all a matter of putting together an interesting image, while still including the water in the scene. In the photo below, I captured a small-town scene, flanked by dazzling red and gold leaves on trees.

What a beautiful fall scene!  This picture is along the French Broad River near Asheville, NC.
What a beautiful fall scene! This picture is along the French Broad River near Asheville, NC. | Source

Image Processing - Using GIMP

Once you have captured your images, you can process them on your computer, if necessary.

Many people like to use Adobe Photoshop or even Photoshop Elements. Those are great programs, but I personally like to use a few other programs to help bring out the colors and interesting effects in my images.

The first program I like to use is called GIMP, short for GNU Image Manipulation Program. You can download it for free and has nearly all the same functions as Photoshop. I can resize images for the web, apply filters and much more with this software.

This is a picture of a dogwood tree with berries that I took recently. I manipulated the image a bit in GIMP and here is the result:

Dogwood leaves are a fiery red in the fall.  Their berries add to the color show.
Dogwood leaves are a fiery red in the fall. Their berries add to the color show. | Source

Image Processing On the Web

If you’re not into learning an entire program, there are two free programs that you can use on the web. One of my favorites is BeFunky.

Here, you can upload an image and it automatically resizes it for you, so that you can easily post it to the web. It has many fun filters and effects that, with just the click of a mouse, can completely change your image.

That same image of the dogwood tree and the berries looks like this after I applied some color effects to it, using BeFunky:

I manipulated this image in BeFunky and played with different filters and effects until I came up with an image I liked.
I manipulated this image in BeFunky and played with different filters and effects until I came up with an image I liked. | Source

Using Flickr

Finally, my other favorite is Flickr. After you upload a photo to their site, you have the option of editing it in their software called, “Aviary.” They have some fun filters and effects, too, that you can use. I edited this fall scene near the town where I live, using the “burn” filter:

I used the "burn" filter on Flickr to render this image.
I used the "burn" filter on Flickr to render this image. | Source

When It Comes to Photos, Take LOTS of Them

The bottom line is this: when it comes to taking great photos, you have to take lots of them, experiment, try different things and even different software to really get that popping image. I definitely appreciate having this software at my fingertips, as I’m always manipulating photos and working with images in my writing, on my blog and for family and friends.

© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun

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    • profile image

      kelleyward 4 years ago

      Beautiful!!! Wow I learned so much here. I'll have to try out the image software you mentioned here. Voted up acress. Kelley

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Kelley - you're super-fast in commenting, hehe. Thank you so much! The software is so much fun to play with. :)

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      oohh beautiful!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      OOOOH, Thank you, Julie. Hehehe. Hubhugs!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Amazing photography!!! These are some of the most beautiful photographs I have seen. You are fantastic, obviously. Thank you for the very insightful and very beautiful hub. Voted Way Up God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Thanks for the tips on photos. Yours are awesome and way better than what I can take with my little camera. Enjoyed the fall colors, wish I could see them in person.

    • christin53 profile image

      Ann-Christin 4 years ago from UK

      Lovely photos, autumn is a great time to take photos with all the beautiful colours around. You're right about taking lots of photos the more the better to find a really great shot.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Faith Reaper - aww, shucks. Thank you. :) I LOVE photography. I appreciate you stopping by. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

      Teaches - aww, you know, you just make me smile. You come by, make a comment and you're so consistent about it - you are the sweetest person, ever. Many hubhugs, Dianna. :)

      Christin53 - thank you so much for the feedback. I love all these colors - I can't get enough of them. Hehe.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 4 years ago from UK

      Lovely photos Cyndi. I particularly like the close up of the leaves, and the leaves against the blue sky. I didn't realise you could edit photos in Flickr. I have begun to do some playing around with photos in Photoshop Elements, but my 14 year-old daughter spends hours doing that and is way ahead of me.

      BTW, I was surprised to see all the autumn leaves because they are only just beginning to turn here - I thought with you being so much further south autumn would be later than us.

    • profile image

      Tina Truelove 4 years ago

      GREAT Tips. Thank you for this article. I am most certainly an amateur but I LOVE taking pictures. I live in North Georgia where fall foliage is beautiful and I have a lovely mountain view from my home. I can't wait to capture the colors! Your tips will be most helpful. I am bookmarking and sharing your article on my social sites . . . if you don't mind. I have a few friends who enjoy amateur photography as much as I do and they will find your tips helpful as well. I am just becoming familiar with Zazzle and have thought of giving it a shot with some of my better pictures. I might be back to ask for your advice about that too . . . again . . . if you don't mind. I look forward to reading more from you and seeing more of your work.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are so talented! Just a beautiful hub, and your tips and suggestions are excellent! I am so happy that we are friends!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Melovy - thank you, sweet friend! Actually, I was surprised to learn when I went to Spain a few years back that we're not all that much farther south. I am surprised, though that the leaves are just beginning to turn there. :) As soon as September 21 comes around, it's like a lightswitch comes on and the leaves change, haha. I appreciate the shares and you know, I would LOVE to go to Scotland someday...and take LOTS of pictures. Hehe.

      Tina - Of course!! Thank you for the shares, but do come back. :) I haven't been on Zazzle that long, but I'm enjoying the site and I'm getting my leg up there. I've thought about writing a hub about it. :)

      Bill - aww, BB, it's all because people like you inspire me. I'm so glad I know you. You mean more to me than you'll ever know. ;)

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Had to come back to share this beauty.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      Fall is the season of colors. It feels good to capture colors. I loved this visual treat.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 4 years ago from Northern, California

      I love that sepia tone bridge! And those "fill flash" leaves are simple beautiful. I imagine your area is quickly becoming a collage of fall colors and leaves. I can't wait to see more of your wonderful photography, Ma'am! Pinnalicious!

      Super-size HubHugs~

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Excellent hub and photos. I' ,m a "Kodak moment" guy but I usually miss the moment. Thanks for the inspiration and advice

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Very nice work with your photos. They look gorgeous, and there are so many mediums to choose from!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Faith Reaper - thank you so much! Hubhugs!

      Vinaya - Thank you so much! I appreciate you stopping by!

      K9 - I love it - pinnalicious! :D I'm thinkin' I have to get hoppin and crank out more photo hubs. :D Biggie-super-size Hubhugs!

      rfmoran - thank you! I used to miss those Kodak moments until I attached my camera to my hip, lol. Thanks for coming by!

      Aviannovice - Thank you! There are so many fun filters and things to choose from - you're right. :)

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Great photos! I really love the macro pictures with the leaves. I have to photograph lots of jewelry and I think this setting would work really well. This is just stunning and very inspiring! Sharing!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks for the link here! Your photos are beautiful.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Great tips, loved the photos. These days taking photos is not expensive. You need not wait to process, develop and then see how it is. Technology has really advanced and so has camera models.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 4 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for sharing the great tips and sites we can use to create more interesting photos. The pics you took are awesome. I especially like your shots of dogwoods. They happen to be beautiful in the spring and in the fall.

      I haven't been there in a while, but Asheville is so beautiful in the fall. There are definitely plenty of photo opportunities. Voted beautiful and sharing on Twitter.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Tammy - ahh, thank you! You're photographs are beautiful, too! Thank you for the shares. :)

      Rose - thank you! I had to link to yours; you take beautiful photographs, as well!

      Vellur - thank you! Yeah, it's not expensive to take photos - technology has helped with that so much!

      Cyndi - I love that you spell your name the way I do! lol. Asheville is indeed so beautiful this time of year! Plenty of photo ops for sure. I appreciate the shares. :)

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Fabulous hub!

      Autumn is a great time to get out and experiment with your camera - the light and colours are so exciting!

      Wonderful photos and tips, thank you and voted up!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      MovieMaster - thank you! Fall is so wonderfully colorful, I can't keep my hands off the camera. Hehehe.

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Great tips. Thanks for the online photo editing software links. I like to play with photos sometimes to get cool effects. Voted up and sharing.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Donnah75 - yes, I'm a photo-editing addict. I'm glad you enjoyed this! Have a great day! :)

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Wow, CC, you have really come along with your photography. These are beautiful photos. I have found Gimp hard to use, personally, but I am learning Picasa. I love what you do with your photos. I'm a fan on flickr! Great job, sis! Many votes!

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 4 years ago from United States

      Beautiful work,cclitgirl, thanks for sharing this lovely photography and wonderful ideas.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I would love try your advice out, but here in Southern Cal, fall colors are fairly rare because of the warm weather. The arboretum might have masses of trees that change color though. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      Beautiful! The trees are just starting to turn here - I'm looking forward to getting out and about to shoot. Gimp is fantastic, I've been using it since it was released (15+ years ago). Still searching for a good photo collection management tool, though!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Vicki - aw, thanks, sis! Picasa is also a wonderful tool to use - just go with what's comfortable. :) I'm so glad you're a fan on flickr - I always look forward to your wonderful comments. Hubhugs!

      Whonunuwho - thank you! It's definitely very fun sharing ideas and pics. :)

      Alocsin - that's right! I forget that in the more southern parts of the US, they don't get the fall foliage. Well, I'll share more pics so you can see the colors. :D

      Nifwlseirff - I LOVE that you're a GIMP fan b/c your photography is awesome, too! I hear ya on the photo management tool. LOL. I have hundreds upon hundreds of pics and the only thing that keeps me relatively sane is dating them and then trying to title the pics so I can find them later. It's a monumental task!

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      When I shifted from Linux to Mac, I resorted to iPhoto for photo management, but it has reached its limit - so slow and buggy with about 18,000 photos! Aperture looks like it has the same interface, unfortunately. Considered shifting to Bibble when they implemented photo management, but put that on hold until things settled down after Corel's take-over.

      But I think you're right tagging, dating and titling are monumental tasks in a big photo library, even with a good tool!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Nifwlseirff - indeed! Thank you for coming back! I am going to look into iPhoto. :)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      These are beautiful Cyndi!

    • newusedcarssacram profile image

      newusedcarssacram 4 years ago from Sacramento, CA, U.S.A

      Interesting and useful information you have about a new software. Thanks so much!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Audrey - aw, thank you so much!

      Newusedcarssacram - thanks for stopping by. :)

    • krbalram profile image

      rahul 4 years ago from Bangalore

      cclitgirl,your tips are really worth following,voting it up and useful

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Krbalram - thank you so much! I appreciate your feedback. :)

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 4 years ago

      I'm learning to use Photoshop. Haven't done much with changing the nature of photos yet, except switching a background I didn't like in a professional photo taken of me (lol). But I do enhance and crop. And you know, I totally forgot that my camera has macro and landscape settings. I've been messing with the zoom and depth of field settings to get closeups. Thanks for the reminder, cclitgirl. Great photos!

      Alocsin - There are flowers that bloom only in fall down here in SoCal. And there's an intensity to the air that can be captured in photography too. :-D

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Watergeek - you know, I learned to manipulate photos in school on Photoshop but then actually affording the software right out of college was a task! So, I became really familiar with GIMP and I almost prefer it...that is until Photoshop makes something REALLY cool that I must have! Hehe. Yes, the camera is one of my best friends. Hehe.

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      WOW, your photos are stunning.. thank you for all of these wonderful, useful tips! I have never used GIMP but have heard wonderful things about it for years. I will have to download and get familiar with it especially since it's free. Thank you for sharing this :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Jamie - I love GIMP! It's a great alternative to Photoshop. There are things, however, that you can do in Photoshop that you can't do in GIMP, but for the most part, it does the job well! :)

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Beautiful photos. I love taking photos but only have my cheap camera phone at the moment. However I may have a nice new camera for Christmas; fingers crossed!!It will be great to spend more time outdoors taking pics. I am sure your hubs are going to inspire me to as I go along.

      A great hub which I vote across and share all around.

      Eddy.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Eiddwen - Up until June of this year, I had a cheapo camera. Even though it's more challenging with a point and shoot-type of camera, I got out there anyways, hehe. I definitely got some bad photos, but I did get some good ones, too. :) Thank you for stopping by!

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 4 years ago

      BTW, see those black spots on the leaves you photographed up above? And how the "flesh" around them is a darker green color? Those spots are made by a bacterium called "Pseudomonas syringae" that also makes rain. How? It accesses plant juices (its food) by freezing the surface skin of the leaf. Then it multiplies itself. When wind comes along, it blows the colonies of millions of bacteria up into the atmosphere, where its freezing abilities cause water vapor to condense around it, forming clouds that then rain. Cool, huh?

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      Lovely work Cyndi!

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Watergeek - that is awesome! I didn't know that, but ya know, I could get into very close-up microscopic photography. It has a certain beauty, you know? :-) Thank you for sharing!

      Audrey - thank you so much. Right back atcha. :D

    • mizjo profile image

      mizjo 4 years ago from New York City, NY

      I have a Kodak Easyshare Z990 which I like a lot but for a few very irritating characteristics which I shall have to study to overcome. Still there have been a lot of good photos from it. With the help of the photo editors you shared in one of your other hubs, I might be able to find an income source.

      This is a really beautiful hub of yours. I enjoy your photos very much.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Mizjo - I have an Easyshare, too - for those times when the big ol' DSLR won't work. So, your camera definitely has value! You can still make some incredible photos with them. Thank you so much for your feedback!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 2 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos and some great tips. I have found that using a polarizing filter really brings out the colors on the camera.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 2 years ago from Western NC

      mbgphoto - yes, a polarizing filter works wonders! Thank you so much for stopping by! Have a wonderful day!

    • Valene profile image

      Valene 7 months ago from Missouri

      Wow, there is so much I don't know about digital photography. I want to get a regular digital camera since the one in my phone is pretty crappy, but I'm not sure what to get.

    • cclitgirl profile image
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      Cynthia Calhoun 7 months ago from Western NC

      Valene - you know, even just starting out with your phone, you can do some amazing things. :) But when you get to know it a little more, then you can get a DSLR camera. My recommendation is play around with what you have now, make sure you like it, and then get yourself a camera when you feel you know a little more. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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