Tis that time of the year again, a favorite time of year for all photographers, when the forests across the country conspire to put on a fireworks show of colors. From red and yellow vine maples of the far west to the gold and orange aspens in the Rockies to the red, yellow, orange, amber, purple and rusts of the east, October and November are a magnificent time of the year to be out taking pictures.
But don’t go out any old time and just point your camera at some color and push the shutter- there are some tricks to getting the best pictures. Here are my two favorite fall color secrets: 1. Go out in the rain or just after a rain and 2. Use a polarizing filter.
Rain is the best time to photograph leaves, any kind of leaves. All the dust has been washed off and the leaves look fresh and strong. Don’t go out in a downpour and then write me to say how I have caused you to ruin your camera- there is no reason to photograph in a downpour. But when the rain is light or misty the time is perfect. And remember, when it is lightly raining in the meadow it will hardly be raining in the forest. The trick to getting your best shot is to use a polarizing filter. Yes, I know, polarizers are for blue skies and to take the reflection off water but they also take glare off wet leaves and rocks allowing the true, rich colors to show.
Be careful about rain drops on your filter, you’ll have to check before every shot. I have a short lens hood that screws into my polarizer allowing me to adjust the polarizer just turning the hood. I have also used a baseball cap to protect the front of the lens until I am ready to take the picture.
You can go out and photograph fall colors on sunny days too- backlit leaves can be very dramatic, just don’t stay inside on a lovely rainy day. You’ll be amazed!