8 ideas for woodland photography in autumn

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.

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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.

The biggest photography mistake you can make in woodland photography

Sunday, it is the middle of the night, 3a.m. I’m awake and feel like I could pull out trees. But it’s the middle of the night. There are still more than three hours until sunrise. So I lay down on the couch, read a bit in the internet and plan my photo tour. The weather forecast says, it is going to be foggy. I’ve been waiting for fog forever! Finally, I fall asleep again, until at 5:30 the alarm clock wakes me rudely from a weird dream.

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One look out of the window and I am awake. Fog, the most beautiful, dense fog! The question of whether I should go back to sleep is off the table. My camera batteries are charged, the memory card is emptied. I quickly pack something to eat and drink and then I’m ready to go.

 I drive up the hills through dense fog. I want to take my first photo of the day from the top. What a bummer, my tripod is still at home! So back home, get the tripod tripod and back again. What sounds annoying at first, was a huge luck. The light was already much better and this beautiful photo was the result.

Fog everywhere - everywhere but in the forest

I decided to go to the forest in Baltmannsweiler. Here are many old beeches and some oaks, which are beautiful photo motifs. There is only one problem: there is no fog. The apple trees on the meadow next to the hiker’s parking lot are in dense fog. But the forest path is as clear as a polished diamond. Not a wisp of fog far and wide.

Anyway, I decide to walk a little through the forest. There are many forestry paths and small paths that depart from the main path. Surely a nice photo motif can be found here?

Well, not really. The light is not good, there is no fog, not even any good mushrooms can be seen. Either they have already  been beaten away or are half rotten. That was probably nothing. Somewhat frustrated I take a small breakfast break and decide that I better go back to my car and go somewhere else.

Baltmannsweiler (9)
Spoiler: Later there was fog

Woodland Photography - I almost made a mistake

I almost made the biggest mistake you can ever make in woodlany and any kind of landscape photography. Besides forgetting your memory card and spare battery. I do not go back the direct way, but the  a bit further along the small path, which will lead me to the main path. The best decision I could make! Because only shortly after my break, a few meters further through the forest ist starts to show, fog!

At first still timid, soon thicker and thicker clouds of fog move through the trees and immerse everything in a mystical light. Gladly I did not go back earlier, but have taken a break and still went the slightly longer way.

On the way to the main path I find then really beautiful motives. This old oak has done it to me particularly. Proudly it stands there, between the beeches. As if it wants to keep up the memory of the king. A patient model, which I photographed a lot.

Baltmannsweiler (4)

I continue to the “Schlösslesseen”, two small lakes in the forest, which are also in the fog. Here, too, I managed some really nice shots. I am glad that I am here and can take advantage of the fog.

Baltmannsweiler (13)

On the way back, which leads via the small path to the king (the remains of giant oak tree), there is unfortunately hardly any fog. The path is a little lower than the main trail. At least some clouds still waft through the higher trees. Later even some sunrays made it through the fog and clouds, which has led to really beautiful shots.

Baltmannsweiler (15)
Baltmannsweiler (17)

A small tree has caught my eye. I moved a little closer, took some pictures and then took a second breakfast break. But as soon as I sat down on an old tree stump and drank some water, I saw a glow in the corner of my eye. Immediately I jumped up and took advantage of the short time when the sun’s rays came through the mist and illuminated the little tree as if hit by a spotlight. For such mornings getting up way before sunrise is really worth it!

Baltmannsweiler (18)

Woodland photography - The biggest mistake you can make

So, what is this mistake I was talking about? The biggest mistake you can make is to overturn your plan in the short term. Panicking from one place to another because you don’t immediately find the conditions you were hoping for. This is called FOMO, fear of missing out.

But this will eventually lead to exactly the opposite. You will miss the best moment if you rush from one place to the next. Into the forest, out of the forest, into the car, out of the car, into the forest and it’s all over.

Believe me, I’ve been there! Not today, but often enough. No fog there, no sun, I’ll try the woods 20 minutes away, over on the opposite mountain. No sooner had I arrived there than the most beautiful fog rolled in at my point of origin. Countless times I have already experienced it.

Once you’ve decided on a patch of forest or a specific location, stick with it. Sometimes conditions won’t change, but often enough your patience will pay off.


Have you made this mistake, too? What do you think is the biggest mistake in photography? Let me know in the comments.


Always best light

wishes Tanja

Woodland photography in summer – tipps and a morning walk

Summer is the least interesting season for most landscape photographers. And I also find the months of July and August the least photogenic. It gets light early, dark late and in addition nature is somehow in an intermediate state. The spring flowers have faded, the fresh green is meanwhile richer and darker, but the autumn colors are still waiting. In addition, the heat makes me rather sluggish. You’ve probably noticed, these are all excuses why you should sleep in on the weekend instead of doing the only right thing: dedicating yourself to forest photography in summer.

So no more excuses. The weather was good, no storm, rain or thunderstorm was announced. And my inner clock likes to throw me out of bed at 5 a.m. even on weekends anyway. And so some beautiful photos were taken on this sunny morning, which I want to show you today.

Your trust is extremely important to me: This article contains referral links (Affiliate-Links). If you book a hotel or buy a product through one of the links, I will receive a small commission. You will not incur any additional costs and you support this blog. Thank you very much! Your Tanja

Forest photography in summer - a special challenge

Forest photography in summer has always been a challenge for me. It has always been difficult for me to find beautiful motifs. The leaves of the trees are no longer as fresh as in spring, the light is also only really nice early in the morning and late in the evening. Spring flowers bloom almost only in spring, mushrooms, on the other hand, are still rather rare.

But if you open your Aigen, then you can find even directly on the roadside many beautiful motifs. So forest photography in summer doesn’t have to be automatically boring. All you need is an alarm clock and motivation to get up a little earlier.

Forest photography in summer - pictures are everywhere

A few flowers still bloom along the way. Like for example these bellflowers. I tried different exposures. Very bright and very dark. But I like this slight moody look with this motif better than the bright images. And what do you think?

Canon EOS R with Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM - 1/13sec, F4,0, ISO 100, 105mm
0,8 sec, F4,0, ISO 100, 105mm

The sun was at the right angle at the right time. Some golden rays of sunlight fell through the leaves. It’s fascinating to see how quickly the light changes. And what a slight change in position of the camera can do. There are only 20 minutes between the following pictures. And only a few meters I walked further up the path. But what was even more exciting were the individual spots that were illuminated by the light and almost glowed golden.

Tamron 70-300mm - 1/10sec, f7,1, exposure compensation -1 2/3, 161mm, ISO 100
Tamron 70-300mm - 1/8 sec, f9.0, -1 exposure compensation, 124mm, ISO 100
Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM - 1/40sec, F8.0, -1 exposure compensation, ISO 100, 105mm

A few weeks ago, I managed to take a photo in which a forget-me-not was only recognizable as an outline. I had hoped to be able to create a similar photo with a different motif. Unfortunately, I didn’t succeed, but I still managed to take some really nice backlit pictures.

Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM - 1/320sec, F4.0, -1 exposure compensation, ISO 100, 105mm
Sigma 105 f/2.8 Makrolens - 1/2500sec, F2.8, 2/3 exposure compensation, ISO 100, 105mm

A little breakfast I also found! Wonderfully sweet raspberries that grew right on the edge of the path. The raspberries were just as sweet as they look in the picture! Unfortunately, the bush was very small and only four or five raspberries were growing. But who could have resisted this sight?

Sigma 105 f/2.8 Macrolens - 1/80sec, F2.8,-1 1/3 exposure compensation, ISO 100, 105mm

Forest photography in summer - change your perspective

In the meantime, the sun was already a little higher. But even then, exciting photos can still be taken. A view upwards opens up completely new perspectives. And that’s what photography is all about, perspective. With my wide-angle lens, the view from below into the treetops looks much more impressive than with a standard lens.

Canon EF 10-18mm f4.5-5.6 IS STM - 1/40sec, f11, 10mm, ISO 100

Details, on the other hand, can be shown better with my 24-105mm lens or even a telephoto lens. For this it is always worthwhile to take a look at the trees. Because sometimes the tree as a whole is not the most interesting subject, but its branches or bark. In this case, it seemed as if two dark branches framed the two lighter ones.

Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM - 1/8sec, F9.0, -1 exposure compensation, ISO 100, 73mm

But at some point it was time for the way back. Especially because I know myself and know that I stop at every interesting motif. And indeed there was still the one or other opportunity to stop. Especially this leafless tree caught my eye. Illuminated by the warm sunlight it stood there. And after a short time another ray of light fell on the tree standing further back. So it seemed as if the two tree trunks were shining, while around them the leaves were still in the shade.

Canon EF 24-105 f4L IS USM - 1/10sec, F9.0, -1 2/3 exposure compensation, ISO 100, 105mm photostack of two photos

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Tipps for better woodland photos in summer

If you want to shoot dramatic photos even in summer, you need to be in the forest appropriately early. In the last few months, I’ve often been in the woods at sunrise. That is really early. In our area, however, the forests are very mountainous, so the light is at its best 1-3 hours after sunrise. Find out for your forest when the light is best and set your alarm accordingly early (or late) next time.

Turn around more often! The light changes within seconds. A subject that was in shadow a moment ago may now be illuminated by the sun, and vice versa.

Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM - 1/13sec, F8.0, -1 exposure compensation, ISO 100, 105mm

And if all else fails, take the opportunity to explore new forests. Find places you want to revisit in the rain or in the fall or winter and rehearse your composition. On the computer, see if your idea really works or if you’ve overlooked any distracting branches or trees.

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From September 2021 you can also learn more about forest photography in workshops in very small groups. If you don’t have any experience yet, but want to try photography or learn the basics of photography, I also have the right workshops for you. If you have any questions, just send me a message!

Best light wishes

Your Tanja