Autumn (Fall) Photography - Capturing Colours

Autumn (Fall) Photography – Capturing Colours

“Darren, it’s Fall here and the colours in the leaves in our town are wonderful. How can I capture their vibrancy? Every time I shoot them I end up with muddy and dull images!” – question by Grant

Image by Black Dog Photography

Image by Black Dog Photography

I love Autumn photography – you’re right the golden and red leaves on a background of lush green grass and beautiful blue skies is a wonderful thing. So how do you capture it? Here’s a few starting points to boost the colours in your Autumn photography (in fact they’re appropriate for boosting the colours in your Spring shots too):

1. Use a Polarising Filter

The saturation of colours that you get with one of these is fantastic. It is particularly useful in getting lovely blue skies but you’ll find that it decreases some of the haze that you often get at this time of year also.

2. Shoot in the Golden Hours

While you can get great results at any time of the day – I love shooting Autumn colours at the end of the day just before sunset when the light is golden. This accentuates the reds and golds even more than normal.

Image by Clearly Ambiguous

Image by Clearly Ambiguous

3. Don’t ignore the Overcast Days

Some people keep their cameras in their bags on days where the sun isn’t shining – but they can actually be the best days. I like overcast days because they help create a mood that you can’t get on a sunny day – plus the images are nice generally nice and rich.

4. Look for Contrasts

One way to accentuate the colours in your shots is to think about framing your shots in such a way that the different colours contrast with one another. Golden leaves on a blue sky – a red leaf on a lush green grass etc.

Image by harold.lloyd

Image by harold.lloyd

5. Avoid Shooting Into the Sun

Shooting into the sun will result in shadows, lower saturation of colours and lens flare (which further reduces the impact of colours. On Sunny days – keep the sun at your back. If you do have to shoot into the sun use a lens hood or shield your lens with something to avoid lens flare.

6. Play with White Balance Settings

Sometimes Auto mode with White Balance won’t give you the most vibrant results. Warm up your colours by increasing the colour temperature a touch (not too much). You can do this by increasing the kelvin numbers or by selecting a setting like ‘cloudy’ if your camera has semi-auto settings. Read more on White Balance here and here.

Image by ionushi

Image by ionushi

7. Warm Up Filters

I don’t use these anymore (I tend to make changes in Photoshop) but in my Film Camera days I did use a warm up filter on occasion to give my shots a slightly warmer glow.

8. Underexpose Your Shots (slightly)

Pull back the exposure on your shots a touch and you’ll find that it gives your colours a slightly deeper saturation. Again – much of this can be done in photoshop – particularly if you’re shooting in RAW.

Of course keep in mind that once you’ve taken your digital shots that you can always boost your shots on your computer afterward. This isn’t the place to go through it (as I mainly focus upon in camera techniques here) but if you shoot in RAW you’ll be in a good position to do some post production on your shots after.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • eric fizaro ramos May 11, 2013 11:25 pm

  • eric fizaro ramos May 11, 2013 11:21 pm

  • eric fizaro ramos May 11, 2013 11:18 pm

  • Chitra Sivasankar Arunagiri November 6, 2012 04:36 am

    Thanks for the great shots and great tips!!!

  • Simon Natal May 17, 2012 11:51 pm

    Thanks for the excellent tips! These photos are my attempt to capture autumn colours in Melbourne, Australia.

  • Savannah March 20, 2012 10:19 pm

    I mean worth mentioning!

  • Savannah March 20, 2012 09:29 pm

    wow, it's a work mentioning post. Thanks for the tips, I'll definitely bear those tips in mind. I've found a nice photography photos too,. here:

  • Ljubo November 8, 2011 05:12 am

    there is one autumn pic of beginner

  • pokkisam October 29, 2011 03:40 pm

    These are the excellent tips. I also inspired by autumn season and photography. So only i have posted best autumn pictures in my blog

  • Anna Patrick September 21, 2011 06:50 am

    These photos make me take my camera and go out searching for a forest to photograph! Autumn means so much inspiration. Here are some other images that captured my attention

  • flora September 14, 2011 05:05 pm

    Nice Post.i like the images

  • Nichole August 11, 2010 11:06 am

    These are great tips. I cannot WAIT for the fall to take my new camera out for some beautifully colored shots. (That, and I'm sick of the summer heat and humidity! Ha!) Just ordered a polarizing filter -- mostly because I will be hiking near some waterfalls in a few weeks. I had not even thought about the benefits it would have on fall photos.

  • Ryan Mullen April 18, 2010 01:53 am

    Here are three of my favorite autumn shots!
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  • Karl October 30, 2009 05:14 am

    Here are a few of my favorites … your thoughts and comments please.


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    - [img][/img]

  • Ariana Murphy October 29, 2009 10:27 am

    I live in the beautiful Niagara region of southern Ontario, Canada, and we're having one of the most beautiful autumns in years. I'm a beginner at photography, having a high-end point and shoot since last autumn and just upgraded to my first DSLR, a Nikon D60. Here's a couple of my best:

  • Beria October 27, 2009 01:02 pm

    Hi everybody! I live in the cold and beautiful Boston, so the colors are great specially now... the trees are so beautiful! Today I took some pictures and tried to follow the tips here. For my surprise, the pics are better than I thought, Im in love with then, but there is something that I was unable to accomplish and makes me frustrated...
    When I have someone trowing leaves over this cute toddler I am shooting, the leaves look blurry instead beautifully falling.
    Anyone can help me out? What would be the best setup for it? PS my camera is a Canon 50D and the lens I was using was 50mm 1.4

  • Marien October 20, 2009 12:16 am

    Tnx for the tips. Had a lovely autumn day yesterday. See the result over here:

  • Lotti October 11, 2009 09:19 pm

    Sorry, gave the wrong link... here is the right one:

  • Lotti October 11, 2009 09:17 pm

    Love this post and had another go at it yesterday: The colours aren't quite there yet, can't wait for it to fully start! Let me know what you think ;-)

  • marvin October 2, 2009 01:25 am

    great article.
    thank you!

  • Paul October 1, 2009 07:37 pm

    I cannot see your mailing details.

  • Christoph September 30, 2009 12:44 am

    Hm, didn't work - so here again:

    Acorns basking in a beautiful autumn sunset near Nagoya, Japan:

    Take a pleasant autumn walk:

  • Serge September 29, 2009 06:02 am

    Paul, please send me an email too concerning the pdf book about RAW.


  • Christoph September 29, 2009 01:50 am

    Another addition as autumn has still begun :)

    Acorns basking in a beautiful autumn sunset near Nagoya, Japan.

  • Francesca September 26, 2009 06:59 pm

    Great tips Darren.

  • Jennifer September 26, 2009 09:15 am

    Yes, please Paul do send me an email regarding RAW. Email is Thanks!

  • Paul Pacurar September 25, 2009 03:28 pm

    About shooting RAW.
    At first, I though RAW take a little to much space, and use it only occasionally. I shot everything in RAW, at a wedding. Now I think I'll use it most of the time. The flexibility offered by this format is related to:
    - white balance (absolute flexibility here)
    - exposure (about +/- 1, or more, but can introduce some noise)
    - highlights recovery
    - shadows
    - colors
    No matter how good is your camera, it's built in converter (any jpeg is a converted RAW, that is a processed image) will not be able to do what only you can do by post processing. And very often, post processing is needed.

    For further details, I will send a .pdf book about RAW through email. Please contact me.

  • Cathy September 25, 2009 03:38 am

    We make apple butter in the fall using a huge copper kettle outside over a fire. The photos captured of the smoke swirling over the bubbling mixture have been amazing.

  • Jennifer A. September 25, 2009 02:32 am

    I love fall colours, I am fairly new to photography (been at it for the past year) The question I had, isn't really fall related, but was mentioned a couple times. Shooting in RAW. Can someone explain how shooting in RAW is beneficial?

  • Don Pachner September 25, 2009 01:40 am

    Thank you for your continuing wonderful newsletter and excellent suggestions for getting the most out of fall photography...circular polarizers are expensive. I used to use one with my film camera (had several for various lenses) but not as feasible with the newer DSLRs. I hope to save up for you have anuy suggestion or analysis as to which type of lense would be the most important to have a polarizer for, the wider angles or telephoto?

  • Karl September 25, 2009 01:38 am

    Being one of the luckiest people alive (I live in Maine) - fall IS the season for folks here.

    Here are a few links to pictures I've taken in Maine and New England.

    PLEASE feel free to make suggestions on how or what I can do, to get better at taking photo's.




  • Jennifer September 24, 2009 06:47 am

    Great tips Darren! I too love the fall. It is by far my favorite time of year. The crisp air, the vibrant colors... I cannot wait to see the canvas enlargements that our customers will create with their Autumn photography.

  • Lotti September 21, 2009 07:27 pm

    I love autumn - so colourful! Thanks for tips, will give it a go this year!
    Found my first opportunity already:

  • Monique September 19, 2009 05:57 am

    These photos are remarkable!! I use to do photography in high school and in college. I quite in college due to bad teaching and hardly any classes. BUT LOVED it so. I want to start again but I have an old camera. How do i re-learn again the steps to an Olympus 35mm camera I think thats what it is.
    Please. IF you could help I want to do this again

  • Rommel Miraflores September 19, 2009 03:49 am

    And this site is great for calculating the daily Golden Hour for your location:

  • Lena September 19, 2009 02:13 am

    Thank you for the article! I love taking pictures in the fall. The colors are just amazing! I recently started to play with the ISO features on my camera, and I will not try to get a polarizing filter to throw in different looks to my pictures!

    This site has been a blessing! :) THANKS DPS!

  • Blog Header Guy September 18, 2009 11:44 pm


    Thanks for this article. Very helpful and the harold lloyd image is awesome. I'm gonna try and capture something like it this autumn season.

    It's funny that an Aussie is writing about Autumn, I always thought folks on the other side of the equator had different seasons than us Northern hemispheroids.

    I'm glad I found this site. :)


  • Joel September 18, 2009 11:11 pm

    Looking forward to trying out these tips. Should be posting some pictures on my website soon.

  • Bev Knopp September 18, 2009 11:04 pm

    Thank you for sharing your expertise. I'm lucky to work at Rock Springs Ranch, Kansas' State 4-H Camp, Conference and Retreat Center. We're nestled in the Flint Hills along a spring fed creek and have every variety of tree native to Kansas so my fall shots are endless with variety and beauty. We also have a 400 seat auditorium which makes us the perfect site for a photo workshop. If anyone is interested please let me know.
    My contact email is Thanks again for your great tips.

  • Paul Pacurar September 18, 2009 10:52 pm

    I don't agree that one should slightly underexpose shots. Actually, by overexposing the shot, more bits per tonality are used. Of course, this applies only when shooting in RAW.

    Check this article:

  • Jennifer Pham September 18, 2009 10:02 pm

    i think i must waiting great day , take a picture ,
    i like yellow colour but my country dont have it :-)

  • hfng September 18, 2009 10:02 pm

    Thanks for the tips! Although you are in Australia, you are giving tips based on the northern hemisphere's season. I bet next you're going to show us how to shoot snow lol ;)

  • Lorenzo Reffo September 18, 2009 04:29 pm

    I love all seasons, but Autumn is defenitely my favourite! This is my first September with an DSLR, I hope I will be able to make many many shots - taking you advices, obviously!

  • Christoph September 18, 2009 11:59 am

    The tips are really valuable, especially the first two!

    I really like how the autumn sun made this tree look like it's on fire

    Another set of shots (from 2008) shows another autumn feature: the beautiful sky.

  • Martin Barabe September 18, 2009 10:42 am

    FAll is a beautifull season to shoot, i took my first few colorful shots 2 days ago, leaves are starting to get nice colors near Quebec City Canada, here is one.

  • David September 18, 2009 08:19 am

    Great post, I love autumn, it is the best time of year for taking photos although for some reason the hardest to achieve the photo I have in my head. These examples are brilliant. I tried an autumn portrait on my blog but find reds and browns hardest to work with in Photoshop. What gives the best photo improvement the polarisation filter or working with the white balance ? I haven't actually moved away from auto white balance yet :(

  • jkss September 18, 2009 07:44 am

    Thank you for good tips. I also like Fall for its colours, they are great ! Autumn photos are always a something special!

  • Spencer September 18, 2009 07:34 am

    On #1: Another advantage of using a polarizing filter is that it will eliminate glare from the leaves and thus deepen the colors. My father, who has been involved in photography for many years longer than I've been alive (and I'm past the 1/2 century mark), pointed this out to me. I created an example by shooting the same plant with and without the polarizer. Without, the leaves look shiny, and more textured. With the polarizer, they're a much deeper green color, but also a little flatter.

    On #5: I like shooting backlit leaves because of the way that they glow. It can be tricky getting the right exposure, though.

  • sbunting108 September 18, 2009 06:55 am

    Thanks Darren great tips.