My favorite season is actually autumn. Especially when it’s warm and sunny. I love these bright, radiant colors of the trees. Just perfect for woodland photography. In this post I want to give you some ideas for beautiful autumnal forest photos and show you how diverse forest photography is in autumn.
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Woodland Photography in Autumn: Colorful Leaves
Let’s start with the absolute classic: colorful leaves. When exactly the foliage turns color is a little different every year. It takes shorter nights, nighttime temperatures around single digits (in Celcius), and several cold nights in a row. One cold night does not make an autumn. But when the leaves finally start to change color in late September or early October (or whenever it is where you live), you can take many incredibly beautiful forest photos with colorful autumn leaves.
How to set the scene for autumn foliage
If you want to photograph colorful fall foliage, find a tree with low-hanging leaves. Some sun, preferably coming from the side or behind you, is ideal to illuminate the leaves. But make sure it’s not too much sun, or the colors won’t show up as nicely. Early morning or late afternoon/early evening light is best.
This is also the case with this photo. Here the autumn colors of the beech leaves come out very well. This picture was taken at 50mm and was shot handheld. No tripod. It was so easy because it was already relatively bright in the forest. When shooting close-up foliage, the focus is actually more on the colors and textures of the individual leaves.
Such close-ups of autumn leaves can become even better with a telephoto lens. The following photo was taken with a focal length of 600mm. This allowed me to look into the treetop and photograph the sunlit leaves there.
Woodland Photography: Trees and Autumn Forests
Photographing individual trees in the forest can be quite a challenge. Especially if it’s not foggy and the fog doesn’t help to separate the trees from each other. One way is to put it in the right light. For example, if the sun is shining on the tree from the side and it is brighter than the surrounding trees.
If the foliage has a different color than the trees around it, it’s also pretty easy to show off a particularly beautiful tree.
Another very nice way to highlight individual trees is to use backlighting. You position yourself so that the low sun is behind the tree trunk. It is illuminated from behind and a fine beam of light appears on the left and right of the trunk. In this way, you draw the viewer’s eye directly to this one tree.
Autumn Woodland Trails
Another idea for autumn woodland photos are forest paths. On sunny days, when the foliage shines colorfully, they create magical photos that immediately draw you into the forest. But even fog and clouds won’t stop you from taking photos of forest paths that perfectly capture autumn.
Ideally, set your aperture to f8-f11 and find a focus point in the first third of the image. Paths usually work best when they are placed reasonably centrally in the image or start at the very edge. At least try not to let the path start anywhere in the image. This looks asymmetrical and the human brain prefers symmetry.
Photographing the Autumn Woodland in bad Weather
Bad weather is good weather! Especially when it’s cloudy or even raining. And what do you do then? Grab the rain jacket, put on waterproof shoes and run into the forest, beaming with joy! No, really! Rain is great. Don’t you think? Then take a look at these pictures.
During and after the rain there is often a special atmosphere in the forest. I really like to be there then. Raindrops hanging on the branches. Leaves that have a very special color after the rain. Fog rising from the forest. You see, even in the rain you can make great autumn photos!
I have learned to love the fog in the last few months. The foggier, the better. Unfortunately, this weather phenomenon is rather rare in our country. But if it is foggy, I need to get out to my local woodland asap. Photos like these are the result if you go to the forest during foggy mornings.
Grasses and ferns
There are not too many blossoming flowers left in autumn. Most have already faded. But that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of motifs along the way! Faded flowers, the last almost dried grasses or even (still green) ferns offer plenty of possible motifs for autumn woodland photos.
Some subjects look totally boring at first glance. But if you change your perspective, crouch down and maybe even shoot against the light, exciting images can emerge.
Woodland Photography in Autumn - View Down
You can also find beautiful compositions when you look down. Little by little, the leaves fall from the trees. Individual leaves stand out from the crowd or many colorful leaves form a beautiful pattern. Like these leaves in the following photos.
When puddles form after the autumn rain, I am also totally thrilled every time. I love to photograph the mirror images of the forest. And when there are colorful autumn leaves around the water puddles, the pictures get even better.
Not to be neglected is the world of mushrooms. In addition to brown porcini mushrooms, there are mushrooms of all imaginable shapes and colors. White, red, orange, purple. If you open your eyes a little bit, you will see that not only the trees change color, but also on the forest floor you can find the most amazing colors.
Autumn Woodland Photos - Look up
Equipped with a wide-angle lens, you can also take great pictures of treetops in autumn. This type of photography is not limited to autumn, but when different types of trees stand next to each other and the leaves glow colorfully in different colors, you will get the most beautiful pictures.
Photographing Sun Rays in Autumn
Another idea that is possible all year round, but gives the greatest results in autumn: photographing sunbeams in the forest. When the morning light falls through the red, yellow and orange foliage, both the sunrays and the foliage shine even more.
I hope you liked the tips and you got some idea what you can photograph in autumn. The next few weeks will be very exciting again, because the first leaves are already starting to change color. That means I will go on many photo tours again and hopefully show you a lot of pictures!
If you are living in southern Germany and need help with woodland photography, then I have just the right solution for you: coaching with me. I offer individual coaching and small group coaching. You can choose to learn the basics of your camera and photography in general or focus on forest photography with me. You can find out more under Workshops. And if you want to stay informed about new blog posts and news about my workshops and the blog, just sign up for the newsletter.