Figuring out Fall

Leaving the fabulous color of fall behind isn’t easy for any photographer. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got a bit overwhelmed with the season this year because of my new location. I had ideas of what I wanted to shoot, but not enough familiarity to know where to get them. So just like when you go into a big book/hardware/music/video store without a list, you can be at a loss as to what you want/need because there’s so much choice. At first I was disappointed with my inability to see the images I wanted, but then I just let go of my preconceptions and began to see my surroundings without inherently approving or rejecting scenes.


When I started to just look, I found plenty of worthies.

With the lightest of hearts

That image above is one of my favorites and I have only one shot of it because when I was there I thought it didn’t work. When I saw it in Lightroom though, I knew I’d take a softening approach and move┬áthe clarity slider to the left. It was the light in the trees that drew me off trail and over a few berms that made for good tripod stands. After walking back and forth a bit, I found the stump and knew it would be my anchor. Why did I reject it in the field? I don’t remember, but I think I need to be less critical and take more chances. Like this one –

Keep on dreaming

Backlighting is so hard in the forest, but it’s just breathtaking so I had to try. I think the stump (another one!) and the trial help with leading you through the image, but a slice can work well too –

To bottle the light

This was a little fold in the landscape; tiny hills and valleys that had lush undergrowth. When I noticed the sunlight streaking through the trees, I had to try to shoot it. Mostly I exposed for the highlights, but with an image so contrasty it has to be dramatic and so I spent more time hunting around for a good arrangement of the trees. After some careful management in Lightroom, I think it works.

Light conditions can sometimes be less than ideal, but I don’t let it limit me. Even full sun can be and advantage when it comes to colors and especially reflections. It was a bit past peak when I shot this, but now I know the location, I can always head back earlier next year. And earlier/later in the day for some lovely sunrise or sunset shots. It won’t be long before I’m more comfortable in my surroundings and confident in what images I can produce. I will still try to see beyond my ideas though for new ones.

Harvest of souls

And what fall outing would be complete without a canopy shot?!

Beauty contest

I wish there was a bit more blue sky, but what can you do? Again, I exposed for the highlights and even though it was a bit windy, the shutter speeds stayed high enough to not be an issue. I really have to find a good way to do long exposure with foliage. Sometimes it just comes out too messy, but I have had some success in the past. Something to keep in my mind for next year.

Here’s another slice and one I kept returning to – the contrast between the first golden maple leaves and the remaining green ferns. It was a perfect year for it although it might happen every year in Wisconsin for all I know. I hope so.

The Gift


Esker du

Oh how quickly did the fresh yellows and greens give way to golden tones. Not that I complained.


So that’s the more traditional side of fall and how I experienced it for the first time in my new state. Along the way though I discovered a hidden side of autumn that I had a lot of fun trying to find and then trying to shoot. Next time.

One thought on “Figuring out Fall

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  1. Nice work in a difficult landscape. The fact there is not a lot of lights and darks make it challenging, nor a lot of strong color contrasts. You caught the qualities of the ight and landscapes very well here, I think. The midwest landscape seems much softer to me than New England.

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