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Photographing Autumn Leaves Outside And Indoors - Make the most of the autumnal shades and have a go at some close up work with leaves.
Photo by David Clapp - www.davidclapp.co.uk
- Macro lens – A lens such as the Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2,8 Di MACRO 1:1 will get you close to your leaf / leaves you're working with but you can add on an extension tube or coupling rings on two lenses to get you closer to the detailing on the leaf.
- Tripod – Prevent shake from spoiling your shot.
- Remote release – Again, stops any unwanted movement creating shake in your shot. You can use your camera's self-timer if you don't have one.
- Polarising filter – It'll help saturate your colours, giving blue skies more punch.
- A lightbox or window. If you use a window, try and find one that sits against your garden for a more natural looking shot.
- Cloth and window cleaner – remove all smears and marks before you start shooting.
- Tape – use it to secure the leaf to your window.
Which leaf to pick?Select leaves that have different patterns and shapes so each shot you take is different. Don't select leaves that are too thick as light won't be able to shine through them and don't always go for leaves which are perfect as the odd imperfection can add interest to your shot.
Get up early or wait for the sun to begin settingThe 'golden hours' boost autumnal shades, making oranges more fiery and reds more vibrant.
ContrastSearch for backgrounds that will make your subject 'pop' and, in a way, frame them. For example, out of focus green foliage will contrast the orange and red shades of autumnal leaves perfectly. If the leaves are a little high up to use foliage as a background just work on a day when the sky is blue and free of cloud and use that as your background for your shot.
Avoid busy backgroundsDon't let backgrounds pull attention away from your subject so make sure you through it out of focus. Working in a place where there's not too much clutter will also leave you with a cleaner, simpler background to work with.
Try adjusting your white balanceEven though auto white balance will do a perfectly good job, try switching modes to see if it boosts the colours in your frame.
By back lighting leaves you bring out the detail of the veins and the light adds a highlight around the edge of them making them 'pop' from the shot. However, shooting directly into the sun can cause lens flare so fit a lens hood if you can't find a spot that gives you the light you need to back light your leaves without facing the sun straight on.
Watch the sun
Avoid windy daysThe smallest of breezes can make a leaf move so you need the air to be perfectly still before you take your shot. If you don't, the movement will cause your shot to be blurry.
Instead of taking your shots out in the woods, search for interesting leaves that have fallen, put them in a bag and take them home.
Why?Well, it's warmer for a start and as you're inside there won't be a breeze blowing your subject around.
Brush or wash any dirt off your leaves, unless you want them this way of course, and gently dry them so they don't split.
Set-upIf you have a lightbox, you can lay your leaf on it, position your camera above it and shoot away but for those who don't own one, simply make use of one of the windows in your house. Get a piece of tape and stick a leaf to the window, making sure the glass is free of smears and marks first. Then you just need to put your tripod and camera in place and start shooting. The back light will highlight the leaves and really help the detail in the leaf stand out. The autumn shades will be more vibrant and as there's no breeze, you can spend as long as you like composing and taking your shots.
Later on in the month we'll have a tutorial on boosting colour in Photoshop which is particularly useful during the autumn months and can also be used in the spring too.
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