Weekly Theme #10: Fall Colors

by Tiffany Mueller October. 03, 2016 4000 views

Prime Lens Challenge Theme Winners

Looks like I'm not the only who enjoys a nice prime lens every once in a while. You all aced the prime lens challenge last week. Check out our top three finishers to see what I mean:

  1. Little Beauties by Julie Domingo
  2. Country Wildflowers by Amy Daniels
  3. Under The Pressure by Paula

And once you've taken a peak at those, be sure to browse through all the entries. There's plenty of great inspiration to be found right here on Photoblog in case you ever need a little motivation to pick up the prime and start shooting. 

Great work, team! 


Weekly Theme #10: Fall Colors

Meanwhile, a new month is upon us and it just so happens to be a very colorful month for many parts of the world. We don't really have fall in Hawaii, so I'm always happy to find myself on mainland come October. There's nothing quite like taking in the changing colors on a brisk autumn morning. Those beautiful shades of green giving way to vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds. I'm getting all warm and cozy just imagining it. 

Good thing it's Monday! Over here at Photoblog we think those gorgeous fall colors deserve their own weekly theme, don't you? 

Let's see what fall looks like in your neck of the woods!

Here are all the details:

Deadline: October 16th, 2016

How to submit: Add weeklytheme10 as one of the tags of your post

How to view submissions: Check the tag weeklytheme10

How to vote: Like and comment on your favorite posts


Photo by Jeff Cornish

Get Wide and Get Close

Landscape photography is a favorite of mine, so I’m naturally inclined to reach for a wider lens and try to capture the big picture. Fall is certainly one of the best times to capture wide and panoramic shots. An expansive mountain view with a vibrant autumn tree line at the base, like the scene captured by Jeff Cornish, never gets old to me. When I’m travelling somewhere to enjoy the fall colors, I have to take a landscape or two and so should you!

Landscapes aside, there’s a lot to be said for close-up, detail shots too. Close-ups of curling yellow leaves with bright red leaves bokeh’d out in the background can be stunning. Fall is also an opportune time for shooting macro—if you have a macro setup, bring it with you! Macro shots of the changing colors are great to add to a collection of fall photos. Check out this great shot from Marjorie Mcdonald:

Photo by Marjorie Mcdonald

Use A Polarizing Filter 

These magical little photography gadgets are a must have if you ever shoot outside. They reduce glare and reflections and add natural looking vibrancy to the colors in an image. I prefer to use a circular polarizing filter since it can easily be adjusted to suit the angles of the camera and light—thus increasing its effectiveness. 

If you’ve used a polarizing filter before, you know how powerful they can be when eliminating reflections on water. That’s what they’re designed to do, but in some cases, like shooting mirror reflections, we only want them to do part of what they are capable of doing. That's another reason I like circular polarizing filters. When shooting mirror reflections on bodies of water because it can be fine-tuned by turning it only a small amount. When doing this, look through the viewfinder and turn the circular polarizer ever so slightly until the colors pop, but the reflection on the water remains unaffected. 

Find A Reflection Or Flowing Water

Photo by Jorge L Moro

Water and the colors of autumn go hand in hand. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find a big pond or lake that’s nice and still like Jorge L Moro was able to when he captured the incredible photo you see just above. Still waters are perfect for capturing mirror like reflections of the fall foliage. 

If you want to try your hand at taking a mirror reflection photo, here are few pointers to take into consideration:

  •  Use a narrow aperture (large f number) to maximize depth of field. An aperture setting of f11 or narrower is just what you’ll need to ensure you have clarity and sharpness in your photo starting with the foreground and extending through to the background. Of course, there are a lot of variables that can affect which aperture to use--you may need to do some experimenting to find which best suits your specific shooting situation. Also, the reflection in the water may not be tack sharp due to movement of the water, so be sure to look at your shots to make sure the water is within an acceptable range of sharpness before you pack up and head home. 
  • A quick shutter speed may also be necessary to combat motion blur. Since the water is likely to be moving with the tides and/or wind, a fast shutter speed will help minimize any blur in the water. Additionally, trees and grass are likely to be swaying in the breeze which can degrade image sharpness as well. Try to shoot at a time of day when there is minimal wind.
  • Rather than capturing an entire landscape which includes water, shoreline, trees, and a background, shooting close-ups of the colorful reflection on the surface of the water can create enchanting abstract images. 

Alternatively, if you can’t find a body of water that’s still enough to capture reflections on, shots of moving water can perfectly compliment fall colors too. This shot from our very own Ram Ya is a perfect example of what’s possible. 

Photo by Ram Ya

These types of shots require a slow shutter speed, so use a tripod to avoid camera shake. The milky like effect is actually achieved by the flow of the water, causing motion blur in the image. Proof that not all motion blur is bad! 

If it’s too bright outside to achieve slow shutter speeds, make sure your ISO is set to its lowest setting and close down your aperture to a very narrow opening. Both of those things will help block out some of the bright light and help you get a slow shutter speed. 

However, if it’s still not enough to prevent your image from overexposing, you may need to break out a neutral density filter. Alternatively, you could also try shooting at a time of day when there is less natural light. For example, shooting during blue hour or on an overcast day. 

Fog, Rain, & Mist

What a beautiful trio to go along with the vibrancy of autumn. Sure, fog and rain may actually work to mute the colors, but the atmosphere they add to an image can be incredible. Fog is one of my favorite things to shoot precisely for that reason—so much mood! Mist has similar effects. The trick is to find a good balance of fog or mist since too much can make taking photos pretty difficult. I find thin, low laying layers of fog to be most advantageous to work with.

The great thing about rain and mist is they both tend to make those reds and oranges really pop. A thin coating of water really deepens the colors and the little droplets of water also add interest to the photo. If it's an especially chilly day, frost also makes an interesting subject. Be sure to keep your camera covered and dry when shooting outdoors, but definitely don’t let a little rain keep you from heading out! 

Pre & Post Peak Season

Something I embarrassingly only learned a few years ago, there's a whole underground of fall color enthusiasts who have got this peak foliage change down to a science. A science I tell you. A quick Google search and you can find the exact dates when the colors are expected to peak in pretty much any location you can think of. Planning ahead doesn’t get any simpler than that. 

Photo by Tiffany Mueller

However, the crowds start to ease after the peak of the season, especially if you’re visiting popular autumn color locations. There's still plenty of shots to be taken beyond what is considered the peak time to do so. I snapped this photo of colorful leaves a week and a half after the peak color change happened on the Buffalo River. 

Consider post peak season an extra inning for photographers!

Go on a nature hike and take notice of all the finer things. Fallen red leaves beginning their slow fade back into the ground and acorns spread across the forest floor waiting to be snatched up by hungry chipmunks as they prepare their pantries for the winter season. Look for these types of less obvious indications of a change in season, they also make great subjects. Keep that camera out a little longer—there are still a lot of details to be shot!


Don't forget to submit your fall color shots into our weekly theme! It's a great way to share your photos and discover new photographers in the process. It's easy to participate, just tag your post with:


As always, I'm looking forward to browsing through you submissions! 

Join the conversation
There are 9 comments , add yours!
Giancarlo Fosci 3 years, 5 months ago

Very nice fall color and interpretation of theme, thanks!

3 years, 5 months ago Edited
Jay Boggess 3 years, 5 months ago

Wow! Great info & brilliant images!

3 years, 5 months ago Edited
Bzh29 3 years, 5 months ago

That's well ... But the link to "weekly theme" in top of page is lost ... :(

3 years, 5 months ago Edited
Dirk K 3 years, 5 months ago

Great blog post. I love the colors and almost tangible texture to the leaves picture.

3 years, 5 months ago Edited
Tiffany Mueller Replied to Dirk K 3 years, 5 months ago

Yeah for sure, leaves are great subject matter!

3 years, 5 months ago Edited
Antonio Gil 3 years, 5 months ago

Thanks again for a wonderful lesson about this theme.

3 years, 5 months ago Edited
Tiffany Mueller Replied to Antonio Gil 3 years, 5 months ago

You're welcome--thanks for reading!

3 years, 5 months ago Edited
Ram Ya 3 years, 5 months ago

Thanks a lot for the tips, Tiffany. I couldn't agree more with the polarizer point. I wouldn't be able to take my last shot in this post without it.

3 years, 5 months ago Edited
Tiffany Mueller Replied to Ram Ya 3 years, 5 months ago

Awesome shots, Ram!

3 years, 5 months ago Edited
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