“Autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus

I love autumn. It’s less loud than summer with all its hot weather, shouty sunshine and show-off flowers. It’s more earthy than the pink pastels of spring. And is sure beats winter. 

It also photographs oh so well! 

Over last couple of weeks we have run a special Autumn Photography Bootcamp - open to all! - all the photos below were taken by our Bootcamp participants and students.

While the ideas below should give you a great starting point to photograph your Autumn beautifully, we covered all of these in great detail in our bootcamp, explaining the techniques, showing side by side examples and more.

The Bootcamp is now finished but the materials will be available to the public for another few weeks if you want to get access to them and or be alerted to more bootcamps in the future, click here.

8 ideas for having fun with your family and photograph your Autumn beautifully



1. Go for an autumnal family walk.

I mean, a no brainer really. Don your best wellies and waterproofs and take the family out. The youngest ones will certainly find plenty of sticks, leaves, bugs and mud to collect, logs to jump off, trees to climb on, dens to build and the older generations will appreciate the scenery and the colours. Win-win-win

Things to think about:
  • Consider your surroundings and how you experience them and then take a long hard look at how your camera sees them.
  • If you want the wider scenery, reduce your zoom, if you want detail or portraits - zoom in
  • Consider your angles carefully - instinct tells us to place the subject in the middle of the frame and the horizon line to divide the frame neatly in half. Fight your instinct. Your instinct is wrong. Instead consider dividing your frame more along the one-third / two-thirds line with one third being given to the ground and the rest to the trees. 
  • Get low to the ground to use the fallen leaves to help bring additional texture into the image. 
  • Turn around - especially if your light is quite strong - the same scene from two different directions can look entirely different! Light will make WAY more difference than you think. 

Photo by Olivia BIanchi Bazzi

Photo by Jo Napier

Photo by Hannah Slater


2. Kick’em high and  throw'em far

An all time fave of all the kids I know. Build a leaf pile and get your kids to annihilate it by trying to kick it as high as they can or just run through it or have a good old-fashioned leaf fight. I DID mention the waterproofs at the start of this article... Wit younger kids, you can just throw them above them as they sit down and capture a bit of a leaf rain.

Things to think about:
  • Consider your background – you need to make sure your leaves mid flight stand out against it. Look for either simply sky or a darker, uniform background with which they might contrast. Backlighting them might help to bring them out of the background too.
  • Where is your light coming from? If you have strong light behind your subject, the leaves are likely to be backlit beautifully, but your subjects may be in their own shadow. With soffer light from an overcast source you will have a more forgiving scene. 
  • Go for full length or crop to just the feet sending the leaves fly from a close up
  • Move around and capture the action from multiple sides – go for a side view or from behind or have them aim their kicks in your direction ( just keep your camera safe)
  • Experiment with angles – try different vantage points – shoot from the ground pointing your camera upwards or from standing height, OR if you find the right set up – perhaps from above?
  • If you can control your camera, go for fast shutter speed to capture the flying leaves sharp or slow it down  for a bit of motion blur
  • For some variety, shoot from below, with leaves falling right down on you.

Photo by Jennifer Thomas 

Photo by Carly Morgan

Photo by Hannah Slater


3. Use the leaves on the ground as a colourful, seasonal carpet 

Things to think about:
  • Where is the light? If you’re getting your kids down on the ground and you’re in plain sunshine at noon, your kids will keep their eyes firmly shut. Opt for some shade instead. If your kids are still still struggling to keep their eyes open, play a game with them where you ask them to keep their eyes shut until you tell them. You could either make it on 1,2,3 or go for some bonus giggles and insert a silly word when you’re meant to say three.
  • Be careful what else is on the ground. I once got my daughter to lie down on a carpet of leaves and only discovered later she was inches away from some dog poo that was hiding among the colourful foliage.
  • Look for trees that are dropping colourful leaves rather than just brown if you can
  • Experiment with composition – tight crop or a wider image? Subject in the centre or side of the frame? Horizontal or vertical?
  • Change the vantage point – with your kids on the ground, get down next to them and photograph from the ground level.

Photo by Kerry Anderson

Photo by Namra Wasm

Photo by Colette Poore


4. Single out a beautiful leaf and photograph it from different angles and against different backgrounds.

Things to think about:
  • Light will have a huge impact on the way the leaf will look depending on the kind of light you have ( direct and intense or soft and diffuse) but also where it’s coming from – front, side or back light?
  • You have a lot of options when it comes to backgrounds – place it against a similar colour background or go for contrast – both colour and textural, keep it ‘in nature’ or take it home with you
  • Play with camera angles – it doesn’t have to be just ‘from above’ – unless it’s been flattened like a pancake, it should have a little curl to it which could help you show off its texture.
  • Experiment with different placements within the frame, go for both vertical and horizontal, crop in to it or leave a generous amount of negative space
  • Can you get your kids to accessorise wuth the leaves? 

Photo by Lindsey Gaut

Photo by Hannah Slater

Photo by Emily Robinson


5. Have a good puddle splash!

Wellies? Check. Waterproofs? Check. Let's go! 

Things to think about:
  • What you want from a good puddle splash is one thing - and that’s a crown or water splashing out and being frozen in time and space with your camera. To get that, I am sorry, but if you want to get a really good picture of that, you will again, need to get very low on the ground.
  • Go horizontal : by placing the camera nice and low and pointing it at your subject, parallel to the ground, you are building in depth in your image which will allow for the crown of water to truly stand out. If you shoot from CAH ( comfortable Adult Height) - your shooting angle will be pointing downwards, which means you will get that crown agains the ground and it won’t make the best of images. 
  • Go fast - if you can control it, make sure your camera has a good shutter speed. If you can shoot in shutter priority or manual, aim ofr 1/500s or faster. If you don't switch your camera over to Sports mode or similar.
  • Finally - again, experiment with your light direction - especially if the sun has come out - it can make a world of difference


Photo by Hannah Louise Andrews

Photo by Sarah Collins


6. Look, really look into a puddle!

Puddles are not just for splashing in you know! They are also magical mirrors into the underworld


Things to think about:
  • Even a tiny puddle can look great if you angle your camera correctly. And by correctly, I mean again, very very low, pretty much on the ground ( just make sure to protect it from the wet).
  • You want to get your camera seeing from right at the edge of puddle to create that illusion of infinite water. By using a short focal length ( aka - not zooming in at all) you can stretch that puddle and still fit a lot of your subject in. With longer focal lengths ( aka - zoom in) you can bring more of the detail in. 
  • Light direction matters! Walk around your puddle and take test shots from a couple of different directions to make sure you get the light right.  If the light is behind them, you may get a great reflection of the sky, but their reflection will look shady and muddy. If the light will be behind you, you can get an almost perfect, mirror-like reflection of your subject in full colour.

Photo by Sarah Collins

Photo by Jenn Thomas

Photo by Kessia Kowalska


7. Create a flat lay - seasonal art

Flay lay is when you arrange a number of different elements on a surface and photograph from above. It’s great for showing different colours and textures and including other autumnal elements too.

  • Think of a theme or concept for your flat lay – perhaps the same leaf type with different colours, or same colour, different shapes?
  • Consider the colour and texture of your surface – to contrast or complement your subject
  • Your light is crucial here – you want soft, diffused light which will not distract from your subjects
  • Think about how you will use the space – will you fill the frame with leaves or leave a good amount of negative space?
  • Will you keep the leaves as they are or turn them into art or have a little fun drawing faces onto them with your kids?

Photo by Olivia BIanchi Bazzi

Photo by Namra Wasm

Photo by Lucy Pritchard


8. PUT IT ALL IN A COLLAGE

Finally, take all the awesomeness and put it together - side by side! 

  • Pick a selection of wider and more detail shots to end up with a complete story
  • Ist there a colour or a theme that unifies them?
  • Many little ones or a few, more carefully chose big ones? 
  • Good balance of colour and texture, evenly distributed through the frame.

Photo by Marie Devine

Want more autumn photography advice? 

Get access to all our Autumn Photography Bootcamp materials, including 4 bonus lessons! Learn how to capture a great autumnal portrait, get ideas for rainy day photographs and even advice on your next camera or lens! 

By requesting access to the Autumn Bootcamp materias you agree to be contacted ( infrequently!) by Photography for Parents with our info, invitations to more free Photo Bootcamps and occasional seseasonal offers. 

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A few times a year, Mother nature creates the perfect conditions to capture stunning, truly memorable images. It just suddenly gets generous with colour and light and textures and makes it almost a sin not to try and capture all this beauty. These perfect windows of opportunity don’t last long but when they do, you should absolutely make sure to try and make it out to get shooting.

Autumn, especially at the peak of the season is one of those times. It just looks so pretty – the multitude of rich and saturated colours trying to make up for the fact the summer is gone. But blink it, and you miss it, so time is of the essence. After all, you want to capture the rich, saturated glory, not the sad, crumpled browns.. ( well, actually hold that thought, because you might find those worth of a few photos too). Wondering if you missed your window? Look outside – if you still see some trees with green or otherwise coloured leaves, you’re still on time. Just don’t delay it any longer.

So what to photograph? And how?

1. The autumnal portrait with soft, dreamy background:

autumn_2014-173

The kind of photos people tend to comment about when it comes to autumn, are those with a soft, dreamy, delicate background. And for good reason – a curtain of colourful leaves turned into a soft backdrops makes people really stand out and adds instant WOW factor to your images. But there is a skill in capturing pictures like these and we’re about to break to you exactly how to get what you want.

What we want to achieve is a  lovely head and shoulders portraiture with a soft, dreamy, colourful background.

How to achieve this effect:

  1. Find a bush or a tree with some lovely colour on it.
  2. If you’ve not really explored your manual camera settings, put your camera on Portrait mode. If you know what you’re doing – Aperture Priority or full Manual with as wide an aperture setting as you can get – F1.8 would be great here, but if not, just pick the lowest you have.
  3. Unless you have a very wide aperture setting, you will want to make sure that your child is not standing right by your colourful tree, but at least few feet away. Better still, pick a tree  at a bit of a distance from your child and frame the image from such an angle that their head looks set against the backdrop of the tree. More distance between your child and the background helps create a greater degree of blur to your background. 
  4. Now you need to stand a few feet away too and if your lens allows it, zoom in on your child (if you’re more technically advanced, you will want a Focal Length of at least 50mm or more). Please bear in mind that you don’t want to be too far from your child either – when zoomed in, you want the child’s face to fill approx no less than 1/3 – 1/2 of the entire frame, maybe even a little more. Yes, you can achieve it without zooming in, but trust us, you’ll get much better results if you do.
  5. Make sure the focus is definitely set on your child’s face and take the picture. If you’re not sure if your camera is getting the focus on your child, look for little light-up dots or squares on your screen or through your viewfinder as you take the photo.Voila!

2. Fun with the crunchy, fallen leaves

 

oct2014_holly_park-146

The key to capturing these kind of images is making sure that the leaves flying in the air are captured nice and sharp and that they are actually visible against the background. In order to achieve it, you need to ensure that you’re in the right position and that the photos can be taken quickly enough.

If you’re using your camera on auto, select a Sports mode ( or similar) – your camera on that mode is pre-set to take the photos quickly and ( at least for some cameras ) that the potential camera shake is minimised. The faster you ‘re able to take the photo, the more chance of the leaves appearing pin sharp and crisp 🙂

If you’re using your camera on semi-manual settings, such as Shutter or Aperture priority, select the Shutter priority setting and make sure that it is set to a minimum 1/250s and preferably faster. being outside, with generally a good quantity and quality of light, this should be relatively easy, but if your camera is struggling, increase your ISO to 400 or even 800 if needed.

If you want both your subject and the leaves to be sharp, they should be both within the same distance from you – so, if your child is throwing the leaves up, or to it’s side, you’ll catch them both sharp. But if your child is throwing the leaves towards or away from you and as a result one of the two will be further or closer to you than the other, chances are, they won’t both be sharp. Not always a bad thing, but worth remembering!

3. Just having a bit of a laugh!

oct2014_holly_park-49

In my experience, there is (almost) nothing that kids hate more than being asked to stand or sit still, waiting to be photographed, whilst Mum or Dad spends ages fiddling with the camera. Even if they oblige to begin with, they’re quickly bored and want to go and just have fun.

So my advice is – let them. No, scratch that – encourage them and have fun with them – you’re bound to get much better photos and kids that’ll cooperate with your photo demands more readily in the future. And if the photos aren’t perfect – oh well, I guarantee they’ll still make you smile!

 

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Join our photography classes – in LONDON and ONLINE Click on the images below to find out more! 

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