How to Take Beautiful Autumn Photos

5 April 2020

Ask any photographer what their favourite season for photography is, and there’s a good chance they’ll say autumn. It’s not hard to see why: With the soft lighting and rich, warm-toned colour palette, the transitional season is nature at its finest. And after a long, hot summer, autumn gives photographers a bit of relief - not just from the searing heat, but also from the harsh, high-contrast shadows that can make it difficult to take well-lit photos.

This autumn, why not make the most of the scenic sights by getting outside and trying your hand at nature photography? From photo composition tips to the best camera settings for autumn photos, read on to learn how to take beautiful autumn photos.

Capture the essence of the season

Before you reach for your camera, think about what you love most about autumn. Perhaps it’s the misty mornings that give way to warm days and crisp evenings, or the deep hues and changing colours of the trees. It may even be the golden quality of the light, or the textural delight of fallen leaves swirling toward, and gathering on, the ground.

Whatever it is, pick a focal point that you’d like to capture in your autumn photography and keep this top of mind as you head out for your first shoot.

How to Take Beautiful Autumn PhotosHow to Take Beautiful Autumn Photos

Shoot in the early morning and evening

How to Take Beautiful Autumn PhotosHow to Take Beautiful Autumn Photos

All year round, one of our top landscape photography tips is to shoot during the golden hours, or the hour before sunrise and the hour before sunset. These hours are particularly golden in autumn, when the dusk and dawn light is warm, soft, and free of overly bright lights and dark shadows. 

In autumn, the best time to take golden hour photos is between 6 30 and 7 AM in the morning and 4 30 and 5 PM in the evening. If you can schedule your shoots during these times, you’ll be rewarded with well-balanced golden hour photos that won’t require a lot of editing in the lighting department.

Play around with composition

When you’re working with a beautiful autumn backdrop, experiment with your photo composition and play around with new angles. If you’re shooting wide landscape images and loving the colours of the leaves covering the ground, why not get up close and fill your frame with those vibrant, crunchy leaves?

While you’re at it, you could even go one step further and reach for your favourite macro lens. These lenses are brilliant for showcasing the tiny details people would otherwise miss, like the delicate veins or spotty edges of leaves. 

How to Take Beautiful Autumn PhotosHow to Take Beautiful Autumn Photos

Once you start exercising those creative muscles, you’ll find the options are endless! And by doing this, you’ll not only sharpen your skills in composition, but also end up with much more unique photos.

Our advice? Create a photo book or a set of framed images that track the stages of the season. For example, you could try to capture a leaf when it first falls to the ground, and as it curls up and changes from green to yellow or brown.

Top Tip: Use our Australian-made picture frames to display your autumn landscape photos.

Look outside of landscapes

How to Take Beautiful Autumn PhotosHow to Take Beautiful Autumn Photos

If you’re a nature or landscape photographer, autumn is arguably the best time of year to shoot. But the season isn’t entirely yours - portrait photographers, street photographers, and anyone who enjoys shooting outdoors can benefit from the long days and warm colours of autumn. No matter your photography style, if you’re keen to shoot outside in autumn, you can use all of the tips we’ve mentioned to add dramatic flair to your images.

Autumn portrait photography, for example, is a great opportunity to break away from conventional portrait shots against a plain, white backdrop. Instead of relying on sterile studio portraits for your next autumn family photo, take your shoot to the great outdoors! As a bonus, there’s a good chance your subjects might be more comfortable outside and convey the genuine emotion you need to make the portrait a memorable one.

Use the best camera settings for autumn photos

As every photographer knows, half the battle of taking good photos in any season is using the right camera settings. To help you start shooting stunning autumn photos straight away and save yourself time at the editing stage, we recommend using the following manual settings.

Set a smaller aperture of f11 or greater

If you’re shooting detailed autumn landscapes, you’ll want a deeper depth of field - which is where a smaller aperture comes in. This allows your digital camera to let in more light and achieve a good exposure while keeping the background and foreground of your image in focus. Note that this might also involve raising the ISO or shooting with a slower shutter speed, so it’s worth using a tripod for stable images.

Adjust the white balance

Many photographers agree that shooting with a warmer white balance helps better capture those warm, golden autumn colours. But the best white balance setting depends on the conditions you’re shooting in. “Daylight” or “Shade” will work best on most average days with a bit of sunshine, while “Cloudy” should always be used on overcast days.

How to Take Beautiful Autumn PhotosHow to Take Beautiful Autumn Photos

Shoot in RAW mode

Unlike a compressed lossy JPEG image, RAW images retain all their original data and image quality. This means you can easily edit autumn photos and adjust the exposure, white balance and colour saturation in post-production, without sacrificing the quality of your images.

Our favourite gear for autumn photography

Now that you know the settings to use, it’s time to build out your autumn photography tool kit. As a minimum, we recommend the following equipment for taking vibrant, detailed autumn photos.

How to Take Beautiful Autumn PhotosHow to Take Beautiful Autumn Photos

A DSLR or mirrorless camera

Image quality is everything, and a DSLR or mirrorless camera will guarantee you clear, crisp, and bright autumn photos. If a DSLR is a little out of your budget, there are plenty of affordable mirrorless cameras that rival their quality. 

Wide-angle zoom lens

To hone in on the dramatic detail of autumn landscapes, you’ll want to use a lens with a wide focal length between 16mm and 35mm. These lenses allow you to fit more scenery in your frame, giving you the freedom to point and shoot and crop out any unwanted details in post-production.


Other lenses

If you’re shooting from a distance and want to zoom in on specific details, reach for a telephoto lens - a 60mm to 135mm lens should do the trick. And to take those, close-up fallen autumn leaves photos, you might want to keep a macro lens handy.

A tripod 

Setting a smaller aperture often means shooting with a slower shutter speed, which can increase blurring. To reduce camera shake, mount your camera on a tripod or monopod. As a bonus, this will free up your hands so you can better survey the scene and see if you can find a fresh angle.

A circular polarising filter

These filters really help the colours in your image “pop.” Along with boosting colour saturation, they reduce reflections, which is great if you’re working with a lake, beach, or other body of water. Polarising filters are also adjustable, so you can increase or decrease their strength until you’re satisfied with the effect.

Start your own Autumn photography kit

Make the most of the change in season

It’s officially the best season for photographers, so don’t waste any time getting out there and taking beautiful autumn photos! From the rich, tonal colour palette to the many interesting textures and patterns, autumn is a beautiful season that deserves to be captured in all its glory.

Our expert tips can help you take amazing autumn photos, but getting the right gear is also essential. For personalised advice on cameras and photography accessories, head into your local Ted’s Cameras store today!

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