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Capture Fall Colors on Camera

Up your photography game with this expert advice.

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Don’t just leaf peep this season—learn how to eternalize the vibrant hues of autumn with these tips from pro photographer Austin James Jackson.

Be Flexible

Fall weather is unpredictable. Don’t let rapidly-changing conditions get in the way of your perfect shot.

“Of course, we all want that beautiful shot of the great sunset or sunrise, but these conditions rarely present themselves,” says Jackson. “When the skies aren’t great, throw on a telephoto and go for a more tight crop of an interesting tree or object…Never get fixated on one particular composition. Rather, react to the conditions you are given to select your photo.”

Do your Homework

Fall colors are fleeting, so scouting locations ahead of time is key to finding the brightest leaves. Trial and error is a big part of finding great spots, Jackson admits, but planning can lead you to spectacular views. Google image searching for inspiration isn’t cheating. “Sometimes I’ll have a particular mountain in mind, so I’ll use Google Earth to find potential vistas that will allow me to capture fall color and the mountain at the same time,” says Jackson.

Fine-Tune Your Kit

Jackson recommends using a circular polarizer to get fall color to really pop on your camera. “Always slightly underexpose in order to not blow out the highlights of the bright orange and yellow trees,” he says. He also suggests shooting in RAW in order to retain detail during the editing process.


Looking to improve your photography skills? Sign up for a workshop with Austin James Jackson here or join BACKPACKER’s Outdoor Photo School