Tomorrow morning I wrap up a week and a half of back-to-back workshops in the Eastern Sierra. I had two fantastic groups, and photography conditions to match. But anyway....
I love color, and jump at every opportunity to photograph it. After a disappointing color season last year, this year's yellows, oranges, and reds stretched the bounds of credibility. (To anyone who believes this color is manipulated in the computer, I suggest that you need to get out more in the fall.)
I photographed these leaves a few days ago in Bishop Creek Canyon. Capturing electric fall color like this requires knowing what to look for, and how to photograph it. I start with backlit leaves because the lit side (the side receiving direct light) of aspen leaves can be quite dull, while the side opposite the lit side lights up like it's been plugged in. So, twisting an extension tube on my 70-200 lens, I scanned the grove for backlit leaves with a bit of red or orange, finally landing on this pair that I could isolate against the colorful background.
Metering fall leaves can be tricky too. After setting my aperture and ISO, in manual mode I spot meter on the brightest part of the brightest leaf and adjust my shutter speed until the leaf is underexposed by about a stop (this means setting my exposure to a stop darker than it should be, not a stop below middle tone). Underexposure saturates the color and helps save the red channel, which is easily clipped with bright yellow subjects--if you're not sure, check your camera's RGB histogram and dial down the exposure until all three channels terminate before reaching the right side.
Another essential fall color tool is a polarizer, tremendously overrated for its ability to darken the sky, but tremendously underrated for its ability to cut glare that robs foliage of color. (I have a polarizer on each of my lenses.) Be aware that when using polarizer, if you don't rotate it (to the darkest point) with each composition you risk increasing the glare on your subject. (There are times when you'll want to increase the reflection with the polarizer, but that's a topic for another day.)
* Website: Eloquent Images
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