Tuesday, October 29, 2019


In my 40 years doing fine art photography, in multiple Western states, it has only been these last ten years in Idaho that my fall colors portfolio has truly blossomed. I’ve never experienced such vibrant, colorful, and varied autumn colors until we moved from California to Idaho. My biggest complaint about fall colors in California—we lived in Silicon Valley—was that all the best colorful trees were in the parking lots of malls and businesses!

When we do portraits our favorite park is Kathryn Albertson Park in Boise. It’s good all year, but it’s exceptional in the fall.  However, if I want the more vivid fall colors for my fine art I’ll look towards Meridian, but for the best variety of colors, with the addition of water features, I always drive a couple miles into Eagle, Idaho. The key to great fall photography is to revisit the good spots periodically—at least every week in October. 

My recent images from Eagle, Idaho….

f11.0 @ 1/40 sec.,ISO 400; Lens @ 15mm
This was done at 11am to get the rising sun backlighting this marvelous tree.

TECH NOTE:  If you want great color and detail in leaves use backlight NOT front light, Front light hides detail and will often blow-out, clipping your high lights, on the shiny surfaces of the leaves.

This composition is about as big as I go with fall trees. I’ll pick ONE tree and then go in for details. I don’t photograph Forests; the best thing about autumn is in the details.

TECH NOTE:  With backlight and proper exposure our fall colors don’t need much work in Photoshop. For this image I reduced highlights and lowered blacks. I only bumped Vibrance +10 and Saturation +8.

MY PHILOSOPHY:  You can reveal more about a subject by showing less.  That means I zoom-in or crop…

f11.0 @ 1/250th sec., Iso 400; Lens @ 105mm
So, I stand INSIDE the tree looking towards the sun and pick a branch with some great backlit leaves. In addition, I move so that the background is darker behind the leaves to really make them “pop” off the background.

Then I move in on a special leaf….
f11.0 @ 1/200 se.c, ISO 400; Lens @ 105mm
I really like these leaves at this stage of fall. You can see the autumn colors progressing through the leaves like a slowly advancing virus.

An Eagle water feature….
 f9.0 @ 1/60 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 70mm
This pond, a favorite haunt of local ducks, is on the edge of a housing development. With the trees around it I look for the reflection of their fall colors in the water to align with features on the edge of the pond. I like to create compositions that include foreground, mid-ground  and background interest.

Hope you enjoyed this years fall colors and I will share more next week.  ’Til then…

Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman

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