12 Ways To Capture The Colors Of Fall

12 Ways To Capture The Colors Of Fall


Fall is in nearing full force in the Northern Hemisphere. That means a beautiful display of reds, oranges and yellows is now sweeping across the globe and it’s time to grab your camera to capture the beauty!

Below are some suggestions for how to capture the magnificent colors that are popping out. While a shot of a tree has its place, think of these other ways you can show the autumnal spectacular in photos.

Get Close

Copyright JustyCinMD

One leaf or two. Just a few. Is all it takes to show the beauty of the season. A treeful might be appealing to you, but show us a single leaf and the beauty of its shape all alone.

Go Wide

Copyright emmett.hume

Grab your 10mm or 16mm lens and head into the forest. No need to pick just one when you can pick them all! Be careful to try to avoid too much sky (if it is not a nicely contrasting blue) or fringing will happen.


Copyright DannyBen

If you live in an area with great Fall colors you are more than familiar with the onslaught of “leaf peepers” that descend on your town this time of year. And with good reason! The idyllic towns, from New Hampshire hamlets to German villages are a quintessential partner to fall colors.


Copyright Phil Roeder

Don’t forget to include some humans in your photos. Too often we concentrate on the leaves and colors and don’t places people in the frame. They’re part of the story too!


Copyright h.koppdelaney

Before the advent of leaf-blowers, there was a time honored tradition of raking leaves into a pile. They would then be scooped up or burned or otherwise disposed off.


Copyright thesullys

It’s what leaves do this time of year but is is often hard to catch in action. In this example a willing participant was quite helpful in providing the altitude for some leaf falling. Be creative. Look for a branch ready to unleash its load and give it a nudge with a camera on a tripod and see what comes of it.

Back Lit

Copyright Zach Dischner

Show the colors of the leaf as only the sun can do. Spot metering helps in this case to ensure the image is not too far blown out.


Copyright Pink Sherbet Photography

Kids love leaves and playing in them. You just about don’t have to do anything buy sit back and let them do their thing. It works best if you have them also rake the leaves. 🙂


Copyright . Andrew Dunn .

Depending on the year, cold snaps can leave interesting patterns on the leaves that already have interesting patterns. Get up a little early on a few morning to see what frost can do for your Autumn images.


Copyright Ian Muttoo

I look at this picture and I just want to melt into it. A path, a trail, a road (as in the example below). Any thing with direction to help the viewer meander through the image and soak it all in.

Winding Road

Copyright joiseyshowaa


Copyright Peter Rivera

Lastly; countryside. It’s all around but often hard to find an image where all the leaves are turning at the same time. Look for confined areas or areas with the same type of tree. And go out after the “season is done” to find those leaves scattered on rocks, lake shores and down a trail. They all tell a story of the endless march of time.

Your Turn

Let’s see your leaf pictures! Post a link in the comments section below, please.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Peter West Carey leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics - A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

Some Older Comments

  • Abigail December 1, 2012 03:27 am

    I love taking pictures outside in the fall!! This is my collection of fall photos..


  • PaulB October 22, 2012 03:54 am

    Lovely set of photographs, I prefer the ones that aren't over saturated with colour. Our leaves are only just starting to turn here (in the UK). What will we call the UK if Scotland leaves? :(

  • Nicki McManus October 19, 2012 12:25 am

    I look forward to fall all year- this one is from last year. The colors this year came early, and not as brilliant.

  • John B. October 18, 2012 03:02 am

    Just one thing I would add. How many people actually dig into their camera menus to see what it can do? I use a Nikon D5100. Going into the Shooting Menu, I select the Set Picture Control option. That gives me several choices, each of which can be adjusted further if one wishes. Setting the picture control to Landscape really makes the photo pop with color. Ideal for autumn foliage.

  • Jiri Krecek October 17, 2012 04:19 am

    Took this picture early in the morning, at the Morton Arboretum, Lisle IL - West Route near the Sterling pond. Colors were all ablaze.

  • Reem October 17, 2012 01:03 am


  • Reem October 17, 2012 01:02 am

    [eimg url='http://i189.photobucket.com/albums/z263/semsem83/IMG_0138_zps65f82715.jpg' title='IMG_0138_zps65f82715.jpg']

  • Laurie Roy October 16, 2012 10:38 am

    Loved the different ways to think about fall. I'll have to keep them in mind for next year.
    Great colors in Northern NH 2 weeks ago.[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/53872332@N05/8088701783/' title='IMG_6990f' url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8185/8088701783_4ef0b522d7.jpg']

  • lrozak October 15, 2012 03:46 pm

    Autumn; the most beautiful time of year for photography

  • Gustavo J. Mata October 15, 2012 05:03 am

    Fall Colors in Maine.


  • Lanre October 14, 2012 05:36 pm

    I decided to head out with my camera with this theme in mind. This article has given me many more things I should try. Thanks!


  • Alec October 14, 2012 07:02 am

    While fall can produce some really great shots the ideas put forth in this article are really unimaginative.

  • Steve October 14, 2012 05:07 am

    I took a few recently isolating the leaves on water.

  • Kathy Wesserling October 13, 2012 10:37 pm

    This was taken in Elk Country; Benezette, Pennsylvania during rutting season/peak color time. At 9:00 am, it was still a very gray morning - hazy and overcast. Settings: SS=1/256 F-5.7 FL=100 mm ISO=200 Canon 50D with 70-300 lens. (please. like Dave - I'd like to know the settings, the situation and the where and/or what.)


    What a trip I'm having through Pennsylvania and now in Maryland to shoot their Steam Engine train - against the Fall Foliage. The local's names for people like me are "Elkies" and "Leaf Peepers" (to name a couple of the nicer ones! lolllllllllll)

  • Brian in Whitby October 13, 2012 01:03 pm

    Do not forget to include reflections in lakes, ponds and puddles to showcase fall colours.

    Fog softens and mutes fall colours and creates a dreamy mood.

  • Barbara October 13, 2012 04:28 am

    Here are some photos I took just this week:



  • RJMeldrum October 13, 2012 03:45 am

    That last picture of the country side looks like it was take in Rivendell, right out of Lord of the Rings.

  • Leilani October 13, 2012 02:25 am

    Fall is magical to me with all the colors...it draws me in and inspires me to photograph as much as possibe...here are a few of my fall collection

  • bskaad October 13, 2012 02:06 am

    Her is a autumn picture from Bergen/Norway.
    Looking at one of the seven mountains, surrounding the city.


  • Dave October 13, 2012 01:53 am

    These photos are excellent and thanks for sharing. But I wish that more photographers would post their camera settings along with the photo. This is a Photography class website and most of us are here to learn more and understandfing the settings is the key.

  • Amy October 12, 2012 10:49 pm

    This was one of the first leaves I found this fall. I put the background in black and white to make the color pop a bit more.

  • Ken October 12, 2012 03:02 pm

    A day hike to Borodio Russia, sight of a great Napoleon battle.

    [eimg url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8174/8062294204_3d8ec5e905_n.jpg' title='8062294204_3d8ec5e905_n.jpg']

  • Ken October 12, 2012 02:09 pm

    Always a favorite time to shoot.

    [eimg url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8041/8061538604_de3535b577_b.jpg' title='8061538604_de3535b577_b.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8169/8061540528_191fba8f7e_b.jpg' title='8061540528_191fba8f7e_b.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8320/8061531115_fa28366a28_b.jpg' title='8061531115_fa28366a28_b.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8315/8065902082_ce04c749b8_o.jpg' title='8065902082_ce04c749b8_o.jpg']

  • Helene October 12, 2012 01:09 pm

    The only problem with autumn...it just doesn't last long enough!
    [eimg url='http://photokismet.tumblr.com/private/33404585844/tumblr_mbrcn31Jz91rzf67u' title='tumblr_mbrcn31Jz91rzf67u']

  • ratkellar October 12, 2012 12:46 pm

    The article mentions blue sky as background. Overcast can also work well. North Carolina does have autumn, at least in the Great Smokies where I found frost & snow in October (and Jimmy Carter)

  • shensicle October 12, 2012 12:35 pm

    One of mine from last fall ...


  • SteveFromOhio October 12, 2012 11:02 am

    One from last year.


  • Jay C. Jones October 12, 2012 09:40 am


  • SteveFromOhio October 12, 2012 07:59 am

    One from last fall.

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevefromohio/6302856023/' title='Leaf rimmed with frost' url='http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6116/6302856023_0a4b5b9f80.jpg']

  • James Gonneau October 12, 2012 07:46 am



  • Jessica October 12, 2012 06:29 am

    Nothing like capturing the kiddos playing in a pile of leaves.

  • Denzil Jennings October 12, 2012 05:54 am

    Here are a few that I have shot already this season. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

  • Joanne Caruth October 12, 2012 05:42 am

    On the road to Snowbowl, Flagstaff, AZ.

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/joannecaruth/8077695758/' title='IMG_2388' url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8054/8077695758_4752cb8b09_c.jpg']

  • Casey Grimley October 12, 2012 05:28 am

    Here's some photo's from a hike last weekend near my house in Ogden, Utah.


  • BunnyKissd October 12, 2012 05:00 am

    That last photo, of Watkins Glen, links to the wrong place...

  • Roberta Loufek October 12, 2012 04:37 am

    Great ideas for fall photos. Glad you mentioned also capturing people in fall activities - I'm drawn to landscapes and forget the wonderful dimension that people can add.

  • Ron October 12, 2012 04:28 am

    I love autumn! It's short but very beautiful here in Norway! Here is a recent autumn shot that I like a lot:

  • Amy October 12, 2012 04:11 am

    We have been lucky this year in Ontario (near Ottawa) that the fall colours have been brilliant!
    Here is a link to my gallery of fall colour shots --

  • James Gonneau October 12, 2012 03:49 am

    Sorry, this time with actual photographic evidence of my theory:

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesgonneau/8072629287/' title='JG Photo 2007' url='http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8176/8072629287_2365b7ac9f.jpg']

  • James Gonneau October 12, 2012 03:43 am

    Sometimes, you don't have to make the colours the first star: they can be interesting as part of the supporting cast:

  • raghavendra October 12, 2012 03:38 am

    i always thought about this,
    this is fine photography


  • Andre October 12, 2012 03:31 am

    Love this time of the year here is one of my shots http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/84615186@N07/8034113576/in/photostream/

  • Rick October 12, 2012 03:24 am

    Great article with beautiful examples. We're blessed to live where the creation gives us a spectacular showing in autumn. I managed to get out a couple of times:

    fall outing 1

    fall outing 2

  • af October 12, 2012 02:20 am

    One great opportunity that the author seems to have left out is airports. Here in California, where we have little in the way of fall foliage, we can at least enjoy the lovely display of colorful fall fashions put on by travelers to and from more variegated climates.

  • Matthias October 12, 2012 02:01 am

    Thx for this article, really interesting!


  • Chris October 12, 2012 01:58 am

    I love the Fall. Here is one of my latest shots from a little hike.


  • Waheed Akhtar October 12, 2012 12:54 am

    what a beautiful collection

  • Patrick Chondon October 11, 2012 10:55 pm

    Fall is one of my favourite times of year for portraits. The leaves just add so much colour and vibrancy to the photos. Plus, when photographing children, it makes for some playful moments.


  • Kim Carpenter October 11, 2012 10:54 pm

    Coming from Central NY and moving to NC I don't consider there to be much of a 'season change' here. But here is a 'fall picture' I captured.


  • Ariana Murphy October 11, 2012 10:22 pm

    We are very fortunate here to get great colour in autumn. The season is just beginning, so here is one of my favourites.

  • Kai S. October 11, 2012 07:41 pm

    Wow, stunning photos around here!

    Here is one of my fall favourites:

  • steve October 11, 2012 07:36 pm

    The mist in a forest


  • ccting October 11, 2012 05:08 pm

    wow... hauntingly beautiful..

  • Jeff E Jensen October 11, 2012 03:47 pm

    Some great ideas, I really need to get out before they are all gone.

    Here's a few I was able to grab while shooting some family portraits the other night.


  • Mridula October 11, 2012 03:43 pm

    This is beautiful. The trouble is there is no fall in my part of the world. I only saw it when I was in UK in October once.


  • DC October 11, 2012 01:59 pm

    Here are a couple of my favorites:



  • KJ October 11, 2012 01:55 pm

    This is over by my park :) I do mostly macro-styled photos.



  • lori burrows October 11, 2012 11:56 am

    I was able to do several shots this fall, this is a little past the peak color for the area but I love the shot. Hope you enjoy too. If you look at my photo stream you will see several fall shots. My favorite time of year.

  • Michael Chahley October 11, 2012 11:34 am

    Went on a canoe trip in the last weekend of September. My problem was everytime I turned around I saw a new photo opportunity!


  • Scottc October 11, 2012 11:02 am

    Great photos! It is a beautiful time of year, even though a harbinger of my most dreaded season of all.......

    Fall in NC......


  • Gabriele October 11, 2012 08:32 am

    Nice set of photos in this post and great tips!

    Here my early fall....


  • Jai Catalano October 11, 2012 07:35 am

    Falling leaves are fun to capture in a photo. Especially if the leaves aren't the subject.


  • Thomas Schmidt October 11, 2012 07:32 am

    I love every season of the year. In Fall I'm fascinated by all the colors around. Especially I like trees that wear all the colors at once, from still green to deeply red. Or several trees next to each other with every tree completely in a different color. Here is my collection of Fall photos: http://thoschmiphotos.blogspot.de/2012/10/colorful-trees.html

  • Jason St. Petersburg Photographer October 11, 2012 07:06 am

    I like the frost idea for autumn leaves, but of course no chance for that here in Florida (85F today). I have had a chance to photograph autumn leaves though while living abroad and did like the falling leaves type of shot. Backlit shots are fun to make with a 50mm lens as well:


  • Don October 11, 2012 07:00 am

    I love fall shooting.

  • Scott October 11, 2012 06:14 am


  • David October 11, 2012 06:11 am

    My favourite time of year. My Kids hate the endless 'throw the leaves up in the air' so I can capture the moment. I have developed some free Autumn presets http://www.flixelpix.com/blog/flixelpix-autumn-lightroom-presets/ enjoy.

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