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The Beauty in Autumn Photography

written by: •edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 10/1/2013

Enjoy this image gallery of autumn photography, fall leaves and the beauty of the season while learning some tips on improving your own photography. Nature provides the canvas, the camera paints the picture to capture the moment forever.

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    Nature's Canvas

    Nature's Canvas 

    Autumn leaves make a beautiful display in photographs. The vibrancy in the array of colors create shots that stand out. This photograph was taken on a cloudy day. The shot was captured with a Sony Cyber-shot 14.1 megapixel digital camera. Settings for light and focus were on automatic. These photographs are to be compared with the later pictures presented by a professional. Varying degrees of imagery perfection are seen throughout the slide show, to give an opportunity to view the basics from novice photographers, to the artwork of professionals.

    The composition of the photograph is balanced, as the main focus is the numerous leaves in the shot. Even with a mishmash shot, it keeps the eye drawn to the center of the picture, where the leaves have hues to attract.

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    Artwork of Mother Nature

    Artwork of Mother Nature 

    This photograph was taken along the Ruth Bascomb Trail in Eugene, Oregon. Fall leaves left a pathway of color and a perfect photo opportunity. Ms. Castleberry shot this with a Sony Cyber-shot, 14.1 megapixel camera, with an automatic setting for light and focus. While the basic highlights of the picture are here, the photograph is slightly out of focus. The invitation to come and play in the leaves or to follow the trail is there. The composition is good, and in my opinion, the eye is drawn to the center of the picture, following the trail of leaves on through the path.

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    Mushrooms in Fall

    Mushrooms in Fall 

    Fall even displays the designs in mushrooms as they sprout to spread their seed. The photograph was captured with a Nikon Coolpix 12 megapixel digital camera. The evening was changing quickly into night's darkness although the camera seemed to pick up enough light to catch the designs in the mushrooms with automatic focus and light settings. The composition is off due to the lack of one main focus or subject matter. The eye is drawn more toward the left side because of the brightness of the mushroom on the left. A better photo could have been shot from a different angle, capturing the darker mushrooms in the background, with the lighter subject in front. An in-focus shot could have been the product of a little more patience. I took this picture without pressing the shutter button halfway down to allow the auto-focus time to adjust. Capturing photos without having the patience to allow for adjustments can result in blurry images.

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    Sprouting Fall

    Sprouting Fall 

    These unusual mushrooms were located along the Ruth Bascomb Trail. Darker lighting from the upcoming sunset still allowed enough to develop the white of the fungi and the greens of the grasses. The picture was taken with a Nikon Coolpix 12 megapixel digital camera. All settings for light and focus were on automatic. The image was attractive with the browns of the dying leaves to suggest the ending of growth through death, while the crisp green grass displays life. The white of the mushrooms and the cylindrical shape gave a definite fall appearance to the photograph, while giving the viewer a glimpse of birth, through the spreading of seeds in the natural way mushrooms do.

    The composition of this photo is good, with the lighter subjects bringing the eye to the focus of the shot. The greens of the grass surrounding the mushrooms complete the picture, without drawing the eye away from the main subject.

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    Autumn Jogger

    Autumn Jogger 

    The Ruth Bascomb Trail in Eugene, Oregon is home to many jogging enthusiasts. The colorful autumn leaves of the trees juxtaposed the dead leaves already lying on the ground in their brown state, with the canvas of green grassy areas along the trail, is a good setting for photography moments. The picture was taken by a Nikon Coolpix 12 megapixel camera with all settings for light and focus on automatic. The sun was setting and did leave the picture a bit dark. Adjustments can be made through a photo editing program.

    The photograph is a bit out of focus as well. The composition is good, however cropping a bit off the top of the picture is a way to keep the subject matter intact, but remove some of the excess surrounding material that does not need to be there. Incorporating lines in a photograph will naturally draw the eye to the subject. For instance, in this picture, a curved "S" line is created through the pathway the jogger is on. The eye naturally flows to the upper section, where the brighter value of grayish-white lies between the two trees.

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    Nature's Fire Red

    Nature's Fire Red 

    The fire-red leaves of the cornus sanguinea plant, taken in Munster, NRW, Germany grasps the beauty of a fall leaf change. The photograph was taken with an Olympus digital camera with a 1/30 second exposure time. The ISO speed was set at 80. The crisp edges of the leaves set upon the out-of-focus plants of the background create a beautiful photograph.

    Not only are the leaves a vibrant red but the textures are seen clearly. Viewers can get a close-up view of the full appearance of the leaf, through color, design and textures. The tiny lines that flow through the leaf adds depth and beauty in patterns created naturally. Patterns, textures and colors brought up close allow the viewer to appreciate the artwork in nature, something most don't consider when they're in their usual environment. The artist accomplished the goal nicely.

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    Fall Pumpkins

    Fall Pumpkins 

    Orange colors are not only seen in the autumn leaves but in other fall icons as well. Pumpkins brighten the fall season with spectacular orange, white and yellow tones. The crisp details of the pumpkins and stem are shot by a Canon PowerShot S3 IS with 1/800 second exposure time and a lens focal length of 71.2 mm. The aperture was set at f/4.

    The subject matter was the pumpkin and the stem in this picture. The stem is in focus and with the opposite color as a background (orange), the eye goes straight for the greenish tints in the stem. Composition is done fairly well, however, the white of the pumpkin stem in the background draws the eye toward it as well.

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    Brisk Fall Walk

    Brisk Fall Walk 

    The autumn season remains warm enough to take walks and get outdoors. This photograph entices the viewer to take walks through open pathways such as this, to enjoy the autumn in full color. Photographers can use the seasonal changes as an opportunity to shoot away and capture the colorful beauty of autumn and other seasons.

    Mr. Grandmont used a Canon EOS 400D digital camera, with an ISO rating of 7,680 to catch the nature around him. Exposure time was set at 1/200 second on his Canon. Lens focal length allowed the camera to examine and permanently freeze-frame this beautiful photo of the fall season along avenues in Belgium.

    Where do your eyes focus in this picture?

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    New Hampshire Autumn

    New Hampshire Autumn 

    The rich, vibrant colors of New Hampshire shine through in this photograph taken by artist Scott Grant. Scott captured the brilliant colors of autumn with the subdued tones surrounding them. The reflection of the bright blue sky in the water tops off the amazing fall representation. The eye focuses on the bright orange tree in the middle, with the composition perfectly set to show off the seasonal beauty. The straight line of the horizon creates an amazing backdrop to line the photograph up nicely and sets the mode for a centered picture. Here, he has a straight line coming in from the right, with the horizon, and a sloping line framing the left hand side, which brings the main focus into the center of the picture.

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    Autumn Beauty

    Autumn Beauty 

    The perfection that Scott has reached in this picture is definitely a true defining moment in his artwork. The sun's rays shooting through the leaves of a beautifully colored fall tree over a lake scene is incomparable in autumn photography. The clear focus of the camera caught the rocks in the lake, the reflection of the trees on the opposite side of the lake and the amazing seasonal coloring of the tree. The composition is great, with the main focus on the tree. Background objects are brought to the front with the framing of the leaves and limbs. While the sun is bright, the eye remains focused on the vibrant colors of the leaves, with a secondary focus on the lake.

    Backlighting can bring out the hairs on a bug or specific details in a scene you are shooting. The backlighting in this photograph is from the sun, which was used to create a more dramatic, intense feeling to the picture. While Scott used the sun as backlighting, the leaves help subdue an overwhelming amount of light. Backlighting can produce dramatic effects such as silhouettes and focused attention to details in some pictures.

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    Smooth Waters

    Smooth Waters 

    While the water is the main focus, the bright orange-red leaves of the autumn season stand out, bringing the eye to the intense colors in front of the stream. The "smoothing" of the stream adds unusual texture to the photo, creating a unique display overall. Scott used his Konica Minolta camera with a Lexar Platinum compact flash and a Hoya Polarizer to achieve the picture he desired. The smoothing technique is accomplished by a longer shutter time. In contrast, dramatic effects when photographing water can be achieved through faster shutter speeds - if the shutter opens and closes quicker, it will "freeze" the movement of water.

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    Fall Around Water

    Fall Around Water 

    Scott used a Nikon D300 and let nature handle the rest. The reflection of clouds in the water and clouds in the sky, make a perfect frame for the fall colors along the shoreline. This unique design shows what amazing photo opportunities nature gives us. Taking many shots of the same scene not only captures the movement of the subject matter, such as the clouds or water, to give various outlooks on the same photograph, but to allow ample selection to choose from when deciding on the final perfect picture. Using a tripod in environments such as this will keep the camera steady to get a flawless photograph.

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    Dusky Fall

    Dusky Fall 

    Dusk falls on Francestown and Scott captured the moment well with his Konica Minolta, Hoya Polarizer filter and Kodak compact flash. The darkness leaves a perfect background of silhouetted trees to bring the colors of the building and autumn display to the forefront with nice contrast. Touches of color, along with darkness, can give photographs a distinguished appeal. The building comes through as the main subject, framed on both sides with similar colors of leaves and clouds.

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    Background Framing

    Background Framing 

    This beautiful photograph keeps the log cabin as the main focus, while providing us with beautiful fall colors in the trees juxtaposed the evergreens evenly spread throughout. Fall colors peek out from behind the green, capturing autumn naturally. Scott snapped this photo using his Konica Minolta.

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    Touches of Fall

    Touches of Fall 

    Displays of fall can be seen through the touches of color throughout the photograph. Leaves on the rocks in full autumn change and trees peeking out from behind the greenery, gives this picture a feel of fall without giving the viewer a direct view of trees in full-blown fall colors. The contrast between the hints of autumn against the natural setting of stream, rocks and greenery creates a nice subtle autumn photograph.

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    Nature's Frame

    Nature's Frame 

    With the colorful leaves on the ground and in the trees, the lake is framed with beauty. Brightly colored trees on the other side of the lake add to the frame work, bringing all of it together. The water is a glassy blue, which allowed the reflection of clouds to appear on the surface, lending hand to a perfect photo opportunity. Scott used his Nikon D300 to capture the autumn change around the lake. The center of focus is the lake, while the colors are secondary layers to complete the picture. Finding a point of focus is the key to good photography. Composition is vital to keeping the viewer interested.

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    Full Scale Autumn

    Full Scale Autumn 

    For a full scale, distance shot, this photograph shows the blue of the sky and the fall trees scattered throughout the evergreens on a much larger scale. The beautiful colors fill the hillside with intrigue, inviting the viewer to come and take a walk through the natural artistic rainbow. Scott captured the wonders of fall through his Nikon D300 in this popular site for photographers called Cathedral Ledge III. The eye focuses mostly on the amazing fall colors of the trees, although does wander to the blues in the sky as well.

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    Old Covered Bridges

    Old Covered Bridges 

    With the use of a Hoya Polarizer, Scott captured the beauty of an old covered bridge among the autumn scenery. The reds in the leaves stand out with the red roof of the bridge, giving the picture a definite autumn feel and appearance. The bridge is the subject of focus and the eye tends to head for the red roof coloring. The polarizer allowed the color to come through, while subduing a bit of the brightness, to keep the crisp images clear. Through this art piece, Scott has kept the old-fashioned feel at the front, while the seasons keep turning through time.

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    New Hampshire Canvas

    New Hampshire Canvas 

    Scott gives a magazine quality photograph depicting the small-town feel of America. Add autumn hues and tones in the background and you have a spectacular photograph. Using a Kodak compact flash with his Konica Minolta camera and a Hoya Polarizer, Mr. Grant keeps the viewer focused on the gazebo, with glances to the building and sky. The fall drapery in the background reminds a viewer of hot apple cider, small-town friendly people and pumpkin pie, all through a single snapshot of autumn beauty.

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    Postcard Perfection

    Postcard Perfection 

    Scott used his Konica Minolta, with a Hoya Polarizer to shoot this photograph of Billings Dam in the fall. Place a border around it all and you have a postcard ready to be sold in stores. The gorgeous fall colors line the water as the eye wanders out into the distance, to the brighter left side. The clouds above and reflecting below are the perfect touch to add to the autumn theme. Filters, such as Scott has used here, allow the colors to remain bright and bold, but without the harsh sunlight washing out the final product.

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    Using Reflections

    Using Reflections 

    By including reflections in an image, a photographer can add bits of extra color. The reflection of the sun peeking through the darker clouds places bright light and eye-catching color around the boat on the shore. Scott used a Nikon D300 to catch this fall masterpiece. Picking up the colors along the shoreline in the distance gives the photograph balance and depth. Reflections can add another dimension and tell a whole new story. Experimentation with reflections is a fun way to capture some incredible shots.

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    Hints of Fall

    Hints of Fall 

    Gorham Pond in Goffstown is where Scott found this beautiful setting for a photo opportunity. New Hampshire is filled with plenty of fall color and places to set up a tripod and camera to shoot beautiful photos. In this photograph, he used touches of autumn color to depict a picture of autumn by using a more simplistic approach in color. The viewer knows it is fall by the tree in the foreground, along with the orange tones in the background. The clouds add to the picture, giving it the depth and feel of a coming winter. This was shot with a Konica Minolta, with attached Hoya Polarizer and a Lexar Platinum II-1 GB compact flash.

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    Rainbow Reflections

    Rainbow Reflections 

    Once again, Scott used the beautiful pinkish-orange tones of the sun through clouds reflecting on the water to bring this photograph to life. The glass-smooth water was the perfect setting to use the reflections to give this photograph a new dimension. Autumn colors are slight, making the reflective natural artwork stand out. This picture was captured with his Nikon D300, with a Sigma 18-50mm macro lens at 1:3, 5-5, 6 DC for settings.

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    Keeping it Simple

    Keeping it Simple 

    Keeping it simple is oftentimes the best route. Here, Scott used the basic natural beauty around the lake with small glimpses of autumn color, to capture the "simple life." Scott put his Hoya Polarizer to good use in this art piece.

    The "rule of thirds" is a composition technique that aligns the subjects in a photograph by mentally (or on your camera if it comes with a grid) focusing on a grid. Divide the photograph above into thirds with horizontal lines. Imagine it divided into thirds vertically as well. Subject matter placed inside the grid, either on the intersecting lines or in one of the nine squares the lines provide, creates a place the eye will naturally flow to.

    By using the rule of thirds, this photo sends the eye naturally to the boat, horizon - which lies along the horizontal line at the top - and even to some points in the water and sky. The boat is placed on the bottom horizontal "rule of thirds" line and in the intersection of the vertical line, creating a natural flow for the eye to follow. The items in the picture, while simple, are the points of interest set off by the rule of thirds.

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    Line it With Fall

    Line it With Fall 

    With a Nikon D50 in hand, Scott captured the season well in this photograph. Using a Circular Polarizer and Sigma 18-50mm 1:3, 5-5, 6 DC lens, he brought to light the bluest blue in the lake, with vibrant fall colors exploding from the evergreens and the cloud formation that gives it a unique appearance. Once again, reflections of the environment around you can produce some amazing results.

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    Philosophy of a Photographer

    A few words from Scott Thadd Grant of Frameworthy Photography:

    As far as equipment goes, I’m a Nikon guy. I originally shot with Minolta on film (not counting the Kodak Instamatic I had as a boy). When I made the leap to digital capture, I graduated to Minolta’s 5D. I used that a great deal and refined my craft. As I became more proficient, I traded up to the Nikon D300. It’s a quality piece of equipment that has enabled me to grow as a photographer.

    I am a real shutterbug. My wife will tell you that I’d rather shoot than eat! It’s not uncommon to get up at 4:00 AM to get into position for that “golden light" that you get in the early morning sun. I almost always shoot in manual mode, and I will shoot in NEF (Nikon’s RAW capture). Shooting RAW gives a photographer maximum control over the files. It then lets you “enhance" a photo to its greatest potential.

    Photography, to me, is all about capturing a split second in time, and if I’ve done my job, it’s magic.

    In terms of digital enhancement, my philosophy is that less is more. Any good photographer has to have some proficiency in the digital darkroom, but you have to have quality work to start with. There’s no resurrecting a poorly shot image, but a good eye can overcome minor deficiencies. That’s not to say that digital manipulation is not a form of art, but in landscape photography, natural is best.

    I’ve been shooting seriously for the last fifteen years, eight digitally. I study photography as much as possible. I read via books or Internet, network with other photographers, study other photographer’s work for ideas, techniques and inspiration, and practice, Practice, PRACTICE!!! I also have a web presence on a photo sharing site known as Photo.net where photographers can post their work, submit work for critiquing, or just display a portfolio.

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