A Fall Foliage Photography Walkthrough

For nature and landscape photographers, the small window in which autumn leaves emerge is one of the most anticipated events of the entire year. Vibrant colors explode as leaves begin to drop, one by one, to the earth below. Like moths to a lamp, the pristine beauty draws cameras out to try to grab a slice of it.

Photographer Thomas Heaton is no exception, enthusiastically embarking on a road trip of his own through Scotland to admire the wonders of autumn. Take a look at some of the photographic strategies he utilized to capture the majesty of the Cairngorms National Park:

There’s no right or wrong way to tackle a subject as vast as acres of woodland. However, seeing how a professional overcomes obstacles and makes images of their own is a great way to guide our own endeavors.

For instance, there’s something fascinating in the way Heaton chooses which trees are worth photographing. Much of his decision making process is cool and calculated – a “good” tree is one that’s unobstructed, a certain distance away from distracting elements, a short enough height to capture its entirety. Yet, there’s also some intuition and emotion that goes into the matter. He seeks leaves that are a certain shade of yellow, trunks and branches that bend and sway in a way that’s aesthetically appealing.

With the emphasis put on specs and settings, it’s easy to overcomplicate and forget that the act of taking a picture is a form of art. But, as this excursion shows, something about being in the thick of nature can really bring us back to our creative roots.

The next time you’re out with your camera trying to capture autumn leaves of your own, try not to let yourself get too caught up in the technical details of your photographs. Pay a little more attention to the quality of light, or the way textures and colors merge together to create your surroundings. You’ll be pleased with what you find when you take the time to get in touch with your instincts!

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