Fall Foliage Photography Tip: Shoot Early in the Morning

vermont fall foliage photography

© Kurt Budliger Photography

Shooting early in the morning offers a number of advantages for creating some striking fall photographs.  On days that aren’t cloudy (the five or so that we get here in the northeast) the light is best early and late in the day.  Try to avoid shooting scenics and intimate landscapes during the middle part of the day, the light is very strong and the contrast range can easily exceed the dynamic range of the camera sensor yielding blocked up shadows and/or blown highlights.  Early morning light however can be magical.  It’s warm, far less harsh and intense than mid-day light and because it’s passing through a lot moisture in the atmosphere that accumulated over night it tends to glow, adding an ethereal quality to any scene.

Another benefit to early morning photo sessions is the fact that there is usually little to no wind (unless of course a weather front is passing by during the wee hours of the morning as was the case this weekend).  I find this to be beneficial when shooting lakes and ponds because calm winds create the best opportunity to catch reflections.  We don’t have huge and dramatic mountains here in the northeast so I often head to lakes and ponds in hopes of shooting the surrounding hillsides and color reflected in the calm waters, thus adding another element of drama to my scenes.  Calm winds also aid in getting sharp images of foliage.  Often times when I’m shooting scenics with lots of depth of field (small apertures) my resulting shutter speeds are quite slow.  The slightest breeze can create enough movement in the leaves to render blurry images, not so early in the morning.

Lastly, I’m not a morning person but shooting early in the morning has another benefit quite different then what’s already been mentioned.  Autumn is prime time to be in the northeast, particularly where I live in Vermont.  When our leaves turn each year we get a huge influx of tourists, leaf peepers flock to Vermont from all over the world.  The iconic spots and roadways throughout Vermont, New Hampshire and the Adirondacks can get very busy, however the crowds don’t usually show up until they’ve had ample time to shower, eat breakfast and make a pass through the hotel gift shop.  So if you’re willing to get up early you’ll not only get the best light and conditions for photography but you’ll have the place to yourself.

adirondack photography

© Kurt Budliger Photography

~ by kurtbudliger on September 27, 2010.

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