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  • Cindy Ellis

Photographing Leaves

What is fall without photos of leaves? Piles of leaves, single leaf, leaves as a foreground, leaves as background. Here a few photo tips to consider.

  • Light: The position of light is key. Backlight leaves glow in the golden hours of the evening and early morning. Backlight may produce silhouettes as well especially when using the matrix or all purpose light meter. Side light shows the texture of the leaves. Long shadows can make the tree look taller. Trees naturally filter light and produce unique rays of light. An overcast day can lead to some of the more accurate color and eliminate shadowing.


  • Background. A simple background with some contrast will make your subject or leaf stand out. Shooting with a larger aperture number like f2.8 will blur out a competing background while highlighting your point of focus. This works well for a single flat leaf but does not work well for a pile of leaves.

  • Point of view. Look up, look down, look all around. Look for single leaf alone, Look for piles of leaves. Look for leading lines produced by wooden benches, road lines, pathways. Leading lines add depth of your photo. Frame object or people with leaves. A single face or object surrounded by leaves.


  • Close Up View. Get in close enough to see the veins and imperfections in leaves.

  • Color, Play with the color by using different color leaves or different color filters to add contrast. Consider using selective color and making everything black and white beside one color. For instance keeping the yellows yellow and the rest of the image black and white.

  • Falling leaves. Don't forget to capture leaves in motion. Remember when capturing leaves in motion make sure your shutter speed is at least 1/500 sec to capture the crisp detailed leaf. Play around with a slower shutter speed and tripod and produce a slightly blurred falling leave to add some creativity to your shot.

  • Reflections. Don't forget about reflections.


  • Composition. Fill the frame. Look at the corners and in the entire frame for unwanted objects.

  • Add a person or pet. Don't forget to include the kids jumping in the leaves. The squirrel hiding its last nut. The golden evening light can produce some wonderful fall portraits. When shooting into the evening light consider using the spot or center weighted meter to reduce the chance of silhouettes.


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McClanahan Camera (McCamera) 

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 306 Lee Hwy

Warrenton, VA 20186

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