Photographers each have their favorite time of the year to take pictures, just like they all have their own style or favorite way to photograph (Black and White, Macro, Landscape, etc.), right? What do you do if your between seasons and there isn’t a leaf or pile of snow to be found? Get your pitcher ready because we are about to make lemonade out of your lemons (get it?). I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to this attitude, and that’s what it is… just an attitude. Every season and every time between has pros and cons in photography, for our purposes here we will focus on the pros of the time between fall and winter.
The nice thing about this time of the year is that when you see a tree without its leafs it sprouts (like that?) its own personality. Some trees have an ominous look to them and when shot in black and white they look even more dramatic. Other trees look old and majestic, with each branch reaching out in all directions and a thick textured trunk. Other trees just look like plain old trees that you wish were full of leafs to block out the power line or house behind them. Here are some tips to help maximize your time and photographs during this fallinter (the time between fall and winter).
Frame your subject with the leafless branches
When photographing in the fall we are presented with beautiful colors and bright reflections but often we don’t get to see what’s hidden behind all that. When you hike in your normal places during the summer and fall you sometimes miss out on whats right behind a branch full of leafs. In the picture above I used two leafless trees to frame a part of Lake Arthur that I never knew you could see from this particular path. If the trees above had been covered from trunk to tip in leafs there is no way I would have been able to get this photograph and honestly, it probably would have been fairly drab because you wouldn’t have seen the golden looking grass behind the tree leading to the lake. Use the trees and their branches to frame interesting subjects as you’re walking around looking for money shots. Try to look through the branches as if they were your viewfinder or a picture frame.
Whether you use a macro lens or just zoom out as far as you can and get as close as you can (if you don’t have a macro lens then you should definitely zoom out as far as you can before getting close to anything to maximize your magnification) getting close to your subject eliminates the leaf issue all together. The photo above was actually enhanced by the fallen, now brown, leafs that are behind and on top of the old bleachers. When you are photographing something with leafless trees in the background get nice and close, open your aperture (low f-number) and blur your background into pleasant bokeh.
Find Hidden Gems
Trees are beautiful, but their branches tend to cover things up. This is all well and good if whats behind the tree is distracting or ugly, sometimes what you want to photograph is covered by a distracting tree. The photograph above was covered by a tree all summer and I didn’t really appreciate it until the leafs had fallen and the entire structure was uncovered. The shadow of the tree added to the composition of the photograph as well. Is it an awesome photograph? No, but you get the idea. Look for old buildings and other structures that were covered by the leafs in the summer and are now exposed for you to capture on camera.
Long Exposure Photography
Long exposure photography isn’t new but it’s gaining a lot of momentum in the photography world. It’s a way to enhance and differentiate your photography without having to spend hours in Photoshop or Lightroom (you actually don’t have to do any post processing if you don’t want to). Long Exposure photography is very simple and looks beautiful no matter what season you’re in. Check out our article on long exposure photography if you’re unsure what it is and how to do it.