Mariah Tyler
October 03, 2017

When you find yourself in knee-high boots wanting a certain spiced coffee beverage, you know fall has arrived.

One of the most beautiful aspects of the season is the changing color of the trees. Photographing fall foliage doesn't have to be complicated, but there is some nuance to getting the perfect image.

Related: 14 Fall Road Trips for Seeing the Best Fall Foliage — and a Whole Lot More

Here are some of Travel + Leisure's photo editors best tips for your annual leaf peeping.

Light

Kira Turnbull

  • Ideal light happens in the so-called “golden hour,” which actually happens twice a day: right after sunrise and before sunset. Plan to be outside at these hours for high-contrast vibrancy.
  • Avoid high noon and direct sunlight.
  • Look for light shining through from behind trees to get a nice, hued aura.

David Kukin

Weather

Mariah Tyler

  • Overcast days are not the worst days; gray skies can help the foliage feel even more saturated.
  • If it's a chilly morning, you may luck out and get a misty haze along a waterfront.
  • Use wind to your advantage. If it starts to blow too hard for a crisp foliage shot, embrace the movement of the leaves to create an impressionistic, motion-blurred image.

Mariah Tyler

Composition

David Kukin

  • Photograph the leaves in contrast to the surroundings that are of varying colors. For example, blue water against orange leaves, or red leaves amongst other greener leaves.
  • In broad landscape scene, frame the trees with layers in foreground, the middle, and the background. For example, if the light is peeking over a hill or mountain, or through a row of trees, make the light your main point of focus in the composition.
  • Utilize depth of field by making the background behind the subject slightly out of focus. If you’re shooting on an iPhone 7+ or newer, try shooting like this in Portrait mode.
  • Frame your main subject slightly off centered using the rule of thirds.
  • Find one tree that's turning a deep, red hue (maybe in a field or on a hill) and focus on that as the subject of the image.

Related: The Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the United States

New Perspectives

Kira Turnbull

  • Map out areas around the foliage like trailheads, hidden pathways or main roadways to get different angles for your photos.
  • Focus on a single leaf against a rock or floating on water. Or zoom in to capture the veiny details.
  • For a jaw-dropping image, set your frame with the rows of foliage reflected in water or against a glass structure.
  • If you’re really looking to get creative, move your camera as you press the shutter to create a slight motion blur. Photographing from inside a train or a car, if you're not driving) can achieve this this fun effect, too.

Keeping these tips in mind when you’re in your foliage-filled destination will help you take some of the best photographs. When you’re done and have edited and shared on social media, consider making prints of your works of art.

And definitely share with #TLPicks for a chance to be on Travel + Leisure’s Instagram.

Digital Photo Researcher David Kukin and Assistant Photo Editor Kira Turnbull contributed to this article

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