Tuesday, October 24, 2017


I always look forward to our marvelous fall colors here in Idaho. After all Boise is called “the city of trees” for a reason. And not to be outdone the fall colors in Eagle, Meridian, and Nampa are always great as well.

My style of photography is different than the many photographers’ work I see on the web—especially those in the East—where they often do wide views of whole forests ablaze in fall colors. That’s OK if all you want is a “record shot” of fall colors, but those pictures usually remind me of the pictures amateurs take, at those tourist viewpoints, at the marked turn-outs along side the road at National Parks.

As artists I think we must delve a lot deeper into our subjects than the amateurs and tourists. I mean that literally when it comes to fall colors.

These are my techniques:
  1. I walk into the outer edge of the forrest looking for backlight.  If you go too deep into the forest you lose the backlight.
  2. This means that the sun must be visible; you’re not going to get good backlight on a cloudy day.
  3. I don’t use wide angle focal lengths. Most of the time I use my 70-200mm f2.8 zoom lens.
I’m looking for details like this….

 f11.0 @ 1/500 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 105mm
This image with its crisp detail, due entirely to the strong backlight, speaks volumes about the nature of autumn.

  1. As seen in this image, I look for layers of leaves to create some dark contrasts within the composition. The silhouettes of the smaller leaves behind my larger backlit leaf creates that contrast.
  2. I’m also very aware of the background behind any subject I photograph. If I can’t get a near perfect background behind my subject (here I wanted a dark contrasting background) I simply move-on to another subject.
  3. I used f11.0 as my aperture here to create maximum sharpness in all these leaves knowing that my background would still be nicely out of focus (with nice bokeh) because that background is about 50 yards behind my subject.
In this next image I wanted a softer look….

f4.5 @ 1/500 sec., ISO 800; Lens @ 200mm
Here my tree is part of the background so to knock it out of focus I picked f4.5 as my aperture to give me just enough depth of field for my branch of colorful leaves in backlight. This made the deep background very soft due mostly to my choice of using the focal length of 200mm.

In this last image I’m doing a lot of backlit leaves…

f11.0 @ 1/80 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 70mm
What attracted me to this scene was the contrast between the soft backlit leaves and the graceful, curving, dark branches of the tree. The nice thing about doing fall colors using backlight is that it can be done at just about any time of day.  Sometimes mornings are best, sometimes I use sunset and even noon time can work. It just depends on which direction the subject leaves are facing.

Hope you enjoyed my journey…’Til next week….

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com

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