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Autumn—the hazy days of summer give way to crisp fall mornings. The landscape is painted with a mosaic of warm-toned leaves. The morning air has a clean fragrance and a rejuvenation of the environment occurs. For the photographer who loves color, it's paradise. Due to the number of factors to take into consideration when you make fall photos, both this week and last week's Tip of the Week are dedicated to the subject. Be sure to read last week's Tip Of The Week to catch up on the first three. It's a six-tip journey to get you better autumn photos.
Explore a Trail
Here's a scenario I'll never understand. A family lays out a lot of money to go on vacation. Dad drives the minivan, the kids watch DVDs in the back, and mom video tapes the scenery through the windshield. My response is, why bother? Although exaggerated, my point for you is, as a serious photographer, get out on the trail to get a more intimate view of the area you visit. Force yourself to get away from the car. Car locations have been photographed millions of times. Find a new angle off the beaten path. Immerse yourself in the environment and study it while you methodically walk at a slow pace as to not overlook a potential image. Better yet, stop every eighth mile for 10 minutes and look around. Inevitably, you'll find something of great worth. It may be an intimate detail instead of the grand landscape. It's not about the number of pictures you take, it's about the quality of the ones that compel you to press the shutter. If you're an adventurer, take along a GPS to retrace your steps to guarantee you'll make it back safely with all those great new images.
Use That Tripod
I would never go on a photo shoot without a tripod. I refer to it as a six-pound burden that is the greatest luxury I own. Hauling it can be a hassle, but I shrug this off knowing if I don't use it, the resulting soft images is a much greater problem. Accept it needs to be used and enjoy its many benefits: A) for long exposures, there's no better substitute to ensure the image will be sharp. End result = benefit. B) With the camera on a tripod, I can finetune the composition and guarantee there's no extra curricular movement introduced handholding the camera and lens. End result = benefit. C) a tripod forces me to slow down and think through the composition as I set the vertical and horizontal axis through the finder. End result = benefit. D) when I use a long lens, I offset camera shake and come home with tack sharp pictures. End result = benefit. E) when I carry one on a week long photo trip, it saves me from time in the gym. End result = benefit. Long story short—don't leave home without your tripod and make sure you use it.
Attach an Ultra-Wide
Wide Photographers associate specific focal length lenses with specific purposes. A long lens brings a subject closer, a medium lens simulates what the human eye sees, and wide angles show a lot in tight quarters. While these utilizations are spot on, strictly adhering to them prevents you from acquiring potentially great images. I encourage and challenge you this fall to make as many images as you can using the widest angle lens in your arsenal. You'll come home with sweeping and dramatic results. The perspective will be distorted, but use this to your advantage. Find a foreground object and get right on top of it to give it a lot of emphasis and exaggerate its size. The amazing depth of field an ultra wide provides can be used to achieve foreground to background sharpness quite easily. Get down low to the ground and photograph from an ant's eye view. Have fun, play and experiment. While an ultra wide won't be your most frequently used lens over the span of your photo career, it will certainly bring joy and unique images when you use it.