8 TIPS FOR BETTER AUTUMN SHOTS

BY PETER BAUMGARTEN, OLYMPUS TRAILBLAZER
Shot with the OM-D E-M5 Mark II and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm
F2.8 PRO, ISO400, 1/180, f16

If the camera was invented for only one of the four seasons, it would have to be autumn. The colours, cooler weather and threat of the long winter ahead inspires countless photographers to get out and photograph the beauty of fall. If you are one of those photographers, here are a few tips and techniques that I use.

1MAKE IT VIVID

In the debate between shooting RAW or jpeg, I say shoot both! Like most photographers, almost all of my images have a degree of post-processing applied to them. But with today's digital cameras, I now "pre-process" my photos as well by using the various Picture Modes available on my Olympus cameras. Autumn is all about the colours so switch to the Vivid picture mode and really make them pop! Use the Super Control Panel to change the Picture Mode to Vivid. You can also adjust Sharpness, Color Saturation, and the Tone Curve. The increased colour saturation is only applied to the jpeg file. Should I decide to process the RAW image I now have the jpeg as a frame of reference.  The reflection below should make the difference obvious.

RAW image

JPEG image using the Vivid Picture Mode

2DON’T LET THE WEATHER STOP YOU

Fall weather can certainly be unpredictable, but if you only wait for the beautiful sunny days to go shooting, you are definitely missing out. As a matter of fact, bright sunshine can wash out the colours and create unwanted glare on the leaves. Keep in mind that the first strong wind can drop those leaves and leave you with a colourful carpet and bare branches. Speaking of wind, stormy weather can also make for a great subject. If you have a weather-sealed camera like the Olympus E-M1 or E-M5 II, that's just another reason to get outside.

If you have a weather-sealed camera like the Olympus E-M1, E-M5 II or Tough camera, that's just another reason to get outside. Just make sure you are weather-sealed, too!
Shot with an Olympus E-M1 and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO, ISO800, 1/60s, f/8, -0.3EV

Shooting low and backlighting your subject can make for a stronger, more interesting composition.
Shot with the OM-D E-M5 MarkII and the M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO + MC-14 Teleconverter

3SHOOT HIGH, SHOOT LOW

Try to find some hiking trails or roadways that provide a panoramic view of the tree tops. That 1970s shag-carpet look can really add dimension and depth to an already splendid view. Of course, if you find yourself under a canopy of colour, put your camera near the ground and point it upwards. The articulating LCD on all Olympus cameras can make composition easy.

Find hiking trails in your area that will provide a panoramic view of the tree tops.
Shot with the OM-D E-M1 and the M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, ISO400, 1/30s, f/16, -0.3EV

4DETAILS MATTER

A grand vista can certainly get shutters clicking, but don't overlook the smaller details that might be right at your feet. The entire line-up of Olympus PRO lenses have incredibly close working distances which allows your to focus in on the finer points of your autumn hike.

Try to capture freshly fallen leaves on the water.
Shot with the Olympus E-30 and the Zuiko 70-300mm, ISO 200, 1/200sec, F4.5

Shot with the OM-D E-M1 and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 PRO, ISO400, 1/100sec, F2.8

5PERFECT PORTRAITS

While you are out for your autumn hike with family and friends use the opportunity to capture some portrait shots in front of a beautiful backdrop. The sun is at a lower angle in autumn creating warmer light. You may have to bump up the exposure value by a full stop or more in order to ensure that faces are properly exposed. As well, select a wider aperture to soften the background and isolate your subjects.

My wife and youngest daughter are often 'victims' of my desire to be a portrait photographer.
Just remember to expose the shot for the people's faces.
Shot with an Olympus E-M1 and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO, ISO320, 1/400sec, F4.5

6TRACK THE COLORS

Looking out your window may not be enough to determine the best time to get out and capture the maximum colour palette. Go online to find out when the autumn colours are peaking in your area or wherever you plan on travelling this fall. In the U.S. check out The Foliage Network. Reports are provided for the Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast that will help you time your excursion with prime viewing.

In Canada check out the Fall Foliage Reports which will guide you to reports specific to your province.

7AUTUMN SUNSETS RULE

...and so do the sunrises!

The shorter days and more unsettled weather help to create the perfect conditions for impressive sunrises and sunsets. Check out my sunset photography tips for specifics on how to capture a great autumn sky.

Cooler air temperatures can create mist over bodies of water giving the light a magical quality.
Shot with the OM-D E-M1 and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II, ISO400, 1/3200sec, F10

8TAKE THE ROAD LESS TRAVELELD

Autumn is the perfect time to explore. Hop in the car and spend a weekend driving down roads you've never been on before. Nothing inspires the photographer more than discovering new sights. Almost all of the images in this post were made in locations that I had been to for the first time. I can't wait for my next autumn excursion!

Use a telephoto lens to compress space. This is a vertical panorama of two images.
Shot with the OM-D E-M10 and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II,ISO400, 1/400s, F11

This article was re-posted with permission from Peter Baumgarten's "Creative Island Photo" blog. View more photos and tips at Peter's original post

SEE MORE OF PETER BAUMGARTEN’S AUTUMN PHOTOGRAPHY

Capture your stories.