How to Take Better Photos in Autumn Weather

Marianne Stenger
1st October 2019

With the trees slowly changing in colour from vibrant green to warmer red and golden tones, it’s a beautiful time of year for long forest walks as well as landscape photography and autumn-themed photo shoots.

We’ve already shared some ideas for improving your autumn photography and showcasing the autumn colours, but since the weather can be quite unpredictable at this time of year, it does pose some challenges for outdoor photography.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a few tips to help you capture beautiful outdoor photographs this autumn, whether you’re dealing with clear skies, fog, rain or strong winds.

1. Be prepared

Knowing that the weather could change from one hour to the next, it’s best to be well prepared each time you head out for an autumn photo shoot. This means not only dressing warmly and bringing waterproof outer layers to stay dry in case of rain, but also carrying the necessary protection for your camera gear along with certain items that can help you get better results.

Examples of items that can be useful for autumn photo shoots include:

An umbrella: A light drizzle might be bearable for a few minutes, but without an umbrella to shelter under while you wait for clearer skies, your photo session will quickly be cut short.

Waterproof backpack or camera bag: If an unexpected rainstorm hits, you’ll want to be able to quickly pack up your camera gear to keep it safe and dry.

Lens hood: When you’re shooting in bright sunlight, a lens hood can prevent glare and lens flare. It’s also great for protecting your lens from scratches or drops of water.

Reflector: On overcast days, a reflector can be useful for bouncing more light onto your subject. On bright sunny days, it can help you soften harsh shadows.

Tripod: A tripod will allow you to experiment with longer exposures to let more light in when dealing with thick fog or low light in thickly wooded areas.

Use a polariser filter: A polariser filter can reduce glare from wet surfaces and enhance the vibrant autumn colours.

2. Shield your camera from wind or use a faster shutter speed

When you’re shooting outdoors in strong wind, it can be difficult to keep your camera perfectly still in order to get sharp photos. When this happens, the first thing you should look to do is look for a way to shield your camera from the wind. This might mean sheltering behind a building or tree, or even repositioning yourself so your body is blocking most of the wind.

If it’s not possible to shield your camera from the wind, for example, if you’re on a beach or out in an open field, the next best thing is to use a faster shutter speed to freeze the action. The trade-off for this is that you’ll need to increase your ISO, but a bit of graininess is still better than a blurry photo.

3. Experiment with longer exposures

Autumn tends to bring more foggy mornings with it, so if you’re getting up early to take advantage of the golden hour, sooner or later you will experience what it’s like to shoot in thick fog. Fog can be beautiful in photos as it adds an element of mystery and gives you wonderfully diffused light to work with.

Taking photos on a foggy day can a bit tricky, though, as you’ll need to use longer exposures to let more light through, but not so long that the fog ends up looking blurry. Since fog is reflective, it can also fool your camera’s meter into thinking there’s more ambient light than there actually is, which can result in underexposed images. 

With this in mind, you may need to experiment a bit with different camera settings and keep checking your photos as you go along to make sure they’re well exposed and sharp.

4. Photograph reflections

If you’re in a park or forest with a lake or calm stream, you can work on capturing some of those iconic autumn photographs that show off reflections of multi-coloured trees on the water. Even in the city after a heavy rainfall, there will often be puddles and other wet surfaces that become like mirrors. So if you want to get creative with your autumn photography, try to capture some of these reflections and depict ordinary autumn scenes in a unique way.

5. Get creative with different weather conditions

Although autumn weather can be unpredictable, you can always find a way to use the weather conditions to your advantage. In order to do so, however, you need to remain flexible and be open to working with the light that’s available rather than getting hung up on creating a particular type of photo.

For instance, you might have been hoping for a sunny cloudless day, but remember that dark rain clouds can create a sense of drama, fog can evoke mystery, and the sun breaking through the clouds can create some interesting effects. On an unexpectedly windy day, you can take advantage of the weather to photograph some different types of autumn scenes, such as people struggling with umbrellas or leaves being blown off trees.

Keep in mind, too, that sometimes it’s just a matter of waiting out the weather to get that perfect shot you envisioned. So as long as your camera gear is safe and you’re able to stay warm and dry, try to be patient and wait to see if the rain will stop and the right type of light will return.

 

For more advice on shooting photos in less than ideal weather, check out these quick tips for keeping your camera gear safe when shooting outdoors on rainy days. Or, if you’d like to print some of your best autumn photos, you might like to take a look at some of our photo book and wall art features.