Audio Visual · Digital Printing Group · Cameras

Ten Tips for Shooting the Autumn Colors

Timothy Farmer
October 23, 2023

The autumn colors are starting to come on strong and we have rain in the forecast so let’s talk about tips to get the best shots. The best tip is to do your research. At the bottom there are links for both Missouri and Illinois that should help. The Shawnee Forest and Ozarks should be popping right now, with the rain forecasted there will be great color saturation, and if you know where to look, the waterfalls should be flowing.

1.    Days with weather like rain, fog, and overcast days are ideal. Most people think you want to have a nice sunny day for good photography, but the opposite is true. The rain will intensify the colors and fog or overcast will add mood.

2.    Shoot during the Golden Hour: The hour after sunrise and before sunset will give you a low angle golden light that is wonderful.If you don’t have overcast, try to get out during the golden hour.  

3.    Know where the light is: Shooting with the sun directly behind you will give you great color but will also make your photo look “flat”.  Try some back lighting(shooting into the sun, often through the trees leaves) or side lighting.

4.    Put on your polarizing filter: Most filters can be replicated in post product. We say most because a polarizing filter really can’t be replicated. This filter can reduce glare and increase your color saturation.

5.    Look for reflection: Reflection either as part of the shot or the whole photo are just beautiful so look for locations with water. Around here we have lots of great rivers and some nice lakes. If you find a lake, try to go when there is no wind, often in the mornings (plus you may get some bonus fog!!!)

6.    Use long exposure: If you decide to go to a river, find a waterfall or rapids and set up your tripod and shoot some were between 1/5sec to 2sec.

7.    Look for small scenes: Often we look at the big picture but often if you get close, you can find small scenes that make very impactful images.

8.    Use motion: Try some abstracts photography by hand holding your camera and use a longer exposure. Move the camera indifferent directions. I find moving up and down if you have strong verticals like trees makes a compelling image.

9.    Bring a raincoat for yourself and your gear:This and the polarizing filters are the only two “gear” recommendations for days like this. Everything else you should have, camera, lenses, and a tripod. Because rain will add a lot to your photos, go out during or just after it has rained.We have rain covers to protect your gear and they are inexpensive.

10.  Use a long lens: All too often we go out to shoot landscapes and we throw our wide-angle lens on. Try using a long lens and isolating some subjects. If you have sunlight,you can often find side lit or back lit subjects that will be in sunlight but everything around them are in the dark.


Check out the current fall colors in Missouri from the Missouri Department of Conservation


Some trip ideas from Visit Mo


For Illinois