Fall Photography Tips from the Trail

September 09, 2019
Susan Magnano
PhoTour Adventures


Fall Photography Tips from the Trail
PhoTour Adventures Fall Photography Workshop in Harriman State Park. Photo by Susan Magnano of PhoTour Adventures.


There’s no better time to get out and explore your favorite trails than fall, when the air is crisp and cool and you are surrounded by amazing colors.

Susan Magnano of PhoTour Adventures has created a fall photography guide with tips and tricks for capturing your next autumn adventure.

Use the Trail Conference's Hike Finder Map to scout your favorite trails. Be prepared for the elements. Bring layers, rain protection, and sturdy boots, along with a hard copy of a map, compass, water, and snacks.

Foliage Forecast
Fall Foliage Network features a leaf-drop report that will help determine how long the foliage season may last. Weather Channel provides detailed foliage maps that showcase when peak times will take place.

The best camera is the one you have with you, but we recommend bringing an SLR camera and a range of lenses from 17mm-200mm. Your subjects for fall photography can vary from an epic landscape to a single leaf on a log. Wide angle lens (17mm- 40mm) can be used to capture a whole scene and telephoto lenses (70mm-200mm) can be used to zoom in on an interesting detail in the landscape.

Understanding Light
Overcast conditions may not be your first thought of ideal weather conditions for foliage, but think again. Overcast light is Mother Nature’s softbox—it eliminates harsh shadows and highlights, creating soft and even light. Wet leaves are more vibrant than dry leaves; combined with overcast skies, it can lead to perfect conditions for capturing brilliant colors. Since you will have less sunlight, you will have to increase your ISO or use a slower shutter speed with a tripod.

Looking For Leading Lines
Look for leading lines that guide your eyes through the image to the main subject of your photo. For example, use the path of the trail, a road, or even a fallen tree branch that directs your eye into the frame and helps tell your story.

Past Peak?
So, the colors aren’t as bright, and the trees are looking bare. But don’t fret—there are still great images to be taken. Barren trees and muted colors are interesting. Look to the ground to find some bright remnants of fall.

Take a Fall Photography Hike with Us

Susan will be leading a Trail Conference Community Hike along the Appalachian Trail on Friday, Sept. 27. Sponsored by Campmor and Merrell, this guided hike and photography walk will explore Fitzgerald Falls in Monroe, N.Y. We’ll go on an out-and-back, 1-mile walk along scenic Trout Brook looking for great foliage photo opportunities. Find more info and register.

Know the New Hiking How-tos