The next two weeks are one of the most beautiful times to be outdoors in the Hoosier State because of the wondrous palette of fall colors gracing our woodlands and forests. If the weather continues its cooperation, this could be one of the most exceptional fall foliage seasons in several years.
During the coming weekends, the back roads and woodland trails across the state will be packed with literally hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers enjoying the spectacle. With these hordes of people comes the annual attack of the bad tree pictures.
The annual fall spectacle is certainly photogenic but there are few tricks that will help prevent acute disappointment when you look back at the pictures a week later on your phone, computer monitor or television.
1. Scenic shots are guaranteed to be disappointing. Unless you are packing serious photography gear, most smart phone cameras do not have enough flexibility to make even a mildly interesting scenic shot unless the primary point of interest is less than 100 feet away. You will probably take a few such pictures once you climb to the top of a hill or reach the shore of a lake but don’t expect too much.
2. If you want to make pictures interesting, include people. This doesn’t mean that they should be standing like on-deck firing squad victims; or, heaven forbid, doing the duck-pout-selfie in front of a spectacular rock formation. If you want to make memorable, compelling and memory-jarring photos, just show your companions doing something such as hiking, climbing a fence or just looking at a particularly pretty tree.
3. Don’t forget to include other elements of your story, such as buying apples at a roadside stand or reading a trail marker in the parking lot or changing socks at the car after everyone stepped in a big mud puddle. These will seem trivial and silly at the moment you shoot but these pictures will be the most evocative later on when the immediate memories of the day have faded.
4. One technical tip: Lousy days are actually best for shooting. Overcast or rainy days will produce more saturated foliage colors in your photograph whereas bright sunshine will result in flat, high-contrast images with washed-out colors. Early and late in the day are always preferable for dramatic side lighting with the added bonus of the warm light being more pleasing on skin tones and red or orange leaves.
5. Don’t let picture taking become a chore. Enjoy yourself or leave your phone (or camera) in the car.