*Cover Photo Courtesy of @mikeyc1212 at Blue Chase Lodge

When traveling through the Blue Ridge Mountains between mid-October to mid-November, it’s one picturesque scene after another. Autumn’s vibrant colors always seem to take our breath away. And with cell phone camera technology what it is, we stop and shoot it all. But more often than not, the colors and definition don’t transfer to the digital mode like they do in person. Here are some tips on ways to improve your cell phone cameras results:

  1. PAY ATTENTION TO LIGHT. You always want to consider how much light you have, where it’s coming from, and how it’s hitting your subject. You want it to illuminate your subject without causing harsh shadows. What causes shadows? The harsh light of the sun in the middle of the day does. For example, imagine taking photos of the fall decorations at Mercier’s. If at all possible, you’ll want to try to shoot late in the evening or early morning, or on cloudy days. If the time of day can’t be changed, turn your subject away from the sun.
  2. PLAY WITH PERSPECTIVE. This one is a lot of fun. Get down, stand up, and shoot off the hip (that means pointing your camera and not even looking when you hit the shutter). For perspective, try using the wide angle option on your phone.
  3. TAKE LEAVES TOWARDS THE SKY. Fall is all about color and fall photography is all about capturing the vibrant fall leaves. Often when photos of the bright leaves are taken against a dull background there is little contrast and the image has no direction. By simply changing the angle and shooting the leaves towards the sky, the contrast is brought out and the color is increased. If you are shooting in the middle of the day you may want to turn on HDR so the dark and light colors are better balanced.
  4. CAPTURE A LONE TREE. Capturing the lone tree creates a simple image that easily brings the viewer’s eyes to the purpose of the photo. In fall photography taking a picture of one tree against a contrasting background is simple and beautiful. Your shot can easily capture the detail and color of that tree creating an eye-popping effect.
  5. SHOOT AGAINST A DARK BACKGROUND. Yellow and orange leaves can be easily washed out and the vibrancy of their color lost. Taking a shot with a dark background can bring out the contrast. If you are taking a wide-angle scenic shot a dark background will help the trees pop and show their true color.
  6. USE THE WEATHER TO TAKE GREAT SHOTS. Fall can often be stormy with potential rain or snow at any time. A shot with the changing leaves and snow in the background shows the seasons changing. Taking shots of leaves through the lens of a puddle or reflection is also a great way to capture a unique and beautiful fall shot.
  7. IF YOU SEE RED, SHOOT IT. Many famous photographers have noted the power of red in a picture. Red is a stunning color and always leads the viewer into the image. If you see red leaves around you, take a picture.
  8. CHANGE PERSPECTIVE. TRY LOW-ANGLE PHOTOGRAPHY. Understanding where the horizon line is can help you create a better photo. When you use low angles in photography the horizon line should be at the bottom of the frame. This smartphone photography trick brings out the subject and creatively fills the frame. This will show objects as larger to scale than what they truly are. Let that work for you. Using angles can be a great way to show a sense of scale when taking a landscape. Adding people or animals to a shot can show the scale of a vast mountain or waterfall.
  9. GET DOWN CLOSE TO THE REFLECTIVE SURFACE. If you are photographing water, especially the reflection of the tinted trees in the water, try getting down low. Doing so will fill the foreground with the reflection of the sky or the subject you are photographing. In addition, it will help the composition and interest of the photo, as well as removing any unnecessary distractions from the image. Getting down low will also enhance certain aspects of the water such as ripples, waves, or sunlight sparkling on the surface.
  10. CLEAN YOUR LENS. This should probably be the first trick mentioned – but we saved the most important trick for last! Have you ever taken a selfie and it is blurry or fuzzy and then noticed it was because you didn’t clean off the lens? Do you find your landscape images are blurrier than normal? The #1 smartphone photography trick to remember when taking pictures, is to always stop and wipe off the lens, then shoot.  When you are wiping off your lens you can use lens wipes, a cloth, or your clothes.  Lens wipes won’t damage your lens.
Photo Courtesy of Jorge Gonzalez from Almost Heaven

Autumn photography can easily be beautiful in one click, just by taking a few extra moments to consider using some of these tricks. Be sure to follow the KISS method with all your vacation photos. Keep It Simple, Susie. Photos don’t need to be busy to be effective. Often less is more.

Posted on 10/12/2022