Tip 1. Plan
Peak Fall colors happen at all different times depending on the location. Just because peak occurs mid-October, where you live, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen at the same time where you’re going! And if you’ve only got a four or five day window on your trip, you better do some research. The Canadian Rockies might peak in late September, Vermont early to mid October, and Virginia and Tennessee not until the end of October or even into November.
Tip 2. Don’t Plan
Ok, I know I just told you to plan, but that’s because a certain amount of preparation is inevitable. But once you have your general timing down, and area is chosen, it can be helpful to not stick to a precise plan. Even within a general area, you can have patches of color at various levels of peak. It’s better to be flexible and go where the color is, even if it means skipping a spot that you had your heart set on, but the colors are muted and dull. Fall is all about capturing the colors!
Tip 3. Be Determined
If you arrive at your favorite waterfall, only to find out that the storm the night before blew off all the leaves, deal with it. Forget the waterfall, and look for those spots with color left. Maybe you have to adjust and take some trail shots, or creek shots where the banks are covered in fallen leaves. Don’t give up just because your pre-determined composition didn’t work out.
Tip 4. Embrace Bad Weather
Non-perfect weather makes for much better photos! Embrace it, grab your rain gear and go! There’s nothing better than bright yellow and orange leaves against a backdrop of near white fog! And the dampness on the ground or road just adds dimension and interest.
Tip 5. Perfect the Edit
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your editing style. Obviously, you want the yellows and oranges and reds to pop! But don’t go overboard. You want the final picture to be something that is believable and close to what you were seeing with your eyes. A favorite trick of mine is to NOT over saturate the fall colors, but instead play around with the Luminance sliders to brighten and pop the right colors without over-saturating them.
Most importantly, just get out there and shoot! No amount of tips or youtube videos can replace experience in the field!