Fall Photography Ideas
I know that Photography is more fun when it is sunny and warm outside, but there can be great ideas for photography in fall too. The light alone in the summer raises the quality of a picture on a whole new level. Going out and taking pictures in the summer itself is a lot more fun too. Now that the summer is finally packing up and it is going to be colder outside, does this mean that we should abandon photography in fall and rather stay in our warm home because there is no ideal photography weather? Inspire yourself, gather fall photography ideas and don’t hesitate to go out.
Especially as a Street Photographer, the summer is my favorite season to hunt the streets. People are more friendly, outgoing and open towards being photographed. When the days become shorter, the mood seems to take a slump as well. Also, the sheer amount of people out on the street drops too. Outdoor activities don’t occur that often anymore and live is transferred inside the welcoming environment of a house.
Photography in Fall
The characteristics of fall photography pose new challenges for Street Photographers who also want to continue their passion during the autumn or even winter. Although my motivation might not be the highest, when it is getting colder, there are a lot more opportunities to test your abilities as a photographer. Every season has its own advantages and therefore I wouldn’t miss any of it.
Photography is possible under every condition. Following are my personal reasons, tips for Street Photography and ideas for fall photography.
Unique Fall Photography Ideas
You might be sad that the summer is ending and that you might not have gotten every shot that you desired during this busy season. I feel that way too. When I recap the numbers of photos I take during the year, the summer is the time of the year where I take the most photographs – by far. Nonetheless, you can be creative and get fall photography ideas to pursue Street Photography.
Most photographers share your sentiment that the summer is the ideal situation to photograph. The sun casts beautiful shadows and creates stories in an otherwise trivial image. Because a lot of photographers feel the same way like you, most images we see are taken during the summer under ideal light and weather conditions.
Just browse through your personal feeds and recognize how many images are taken during that single season. On the other hand, how many photos are shown during the rain or cloudy days during fall?
You guessed right, those photos are the clear minority. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t beautiful in itself, just that they are a little bit more challenging.
Taking photos whilst ideal weather situations is easy and everyone can do it. If you happen to accept the challenge to continue your passion during the “hard times” you will create images that most others wouldn’t take.
You are able to capture unique situations and moods that most other photographers would be too lazy or afraid to bring their camera out.
Once you are more familiar photographing during the harsher conditions, your style will automatically be different from most other images seen on the Internet. You will have a more distinguishable style and don’t have to compete against all the other “fair weather” photographers.
Water is like a highly toxic fluid that they should avoid under any circumstances at all according to other photographers. At least this is the impression I get when I go out to shoot and there is a gentle rain outside.
To some degree, I understand the fear. The photography equipment can cost multiple thousands of US-Dollars and the owner probably had to hustle a lot to acquire all of that gear. It is only reasonable to keep it in good conditions avoiding any damage.
On the other hand, what is the worth of a camera if you can only use it in ideal weather condition? From my own experience, most cameras are more durable than their owner want to admit. Even if they aren’t labeled as weather sealed, they can handle some rain fairly well.
I don’t ask you to shoot during the monsoon, but a few raindrops won’t hurt your camera.
If you are still too afraid to take your main equipment outside you can buy some simple point & shoot cameras like the RicohGR which only costs a few hundred bucks and still delivers great images. It is better to get an image with such a simpler solution than getting none at all.
Now that we settled the gear talk and you realize that a slight rain is no reason to put your plans on hold, let’s get to the actual process of taking images during the rain.
As I said earlier, these harsher conditions pose new challenges for the photographer. Contrary to sunny weather you have to adapt to the rain and change your usual routine.
Below you can see a beautiful image taken during a stark rainfall by my friend & colleague Martin Waltz.
The rain creates a very soothing mood and you discover new details. In this circumstance, the umbrella comes into play and makes its way onto the stage. Umbrellas come in various colors and textures, they can give your images a nice little finishing touch. Sometimes you can also find great color combinations of the umbrella and fashion of people.
You also don’t need to be out in the rain to catch the atmosphere. As you can see in this photograph by Chris Candid, you can also spend your time sheltered, while the streets are covered in rain.
Rain is not an excuse not to pursue photography during fall, it is an opportunity to capture images, that other photographer wouldn’t think about. If you are too afraid that your gear might not survive a gentle rain, acquire a second row of gear, that isn’t that expensive but still delivers great image quality.
Take your umbrella with you while you are out taking pictures and you shouldn’t have any problems at all.
The aftermath of such an extreme weather also leaves new opportunities. Wet surfaces guarantee cool reflections and puddles on the floor can open up new perspectives. Use these natural mirrors creatively and integrate them in your photos.
Normally, as photographers, we want to share the world from our perspective. Fog seems like a natural obstacle in this mission. We aren’t able to display a very far field of view but are very limited in our abilities. This could demotivate a lot of photographers as their range is shortened, but I believe that fog creates a very mystic atmosphere itself.
It is the complete opposite of the positive summer feelings and more melancholic and dramatic. If you use this to your advantage, you can create very intense storylines.
When it comes to storytelling in general, there are two kinds.
Closed stories, that don’t anything open to the viewer by filling the frame with everything that is needed to complete the story and open stories.
The interesting part about open stories is, that they leave important parts out and only present certain details. The remainder of the story is up to the viewer’s imagination. Mist can actually facilitate these stories by covering the background or other details of the scene, that could distract the viewer.
For maximum effect, you can wait until sunset and create an almost horror movie visual style as a great idea for photography in fall.
Remember, for this kind of images you don’t need to focus on what you can see, but what is hidden. Thus, encouraging the viewer’s ability to tell his own stories. In hindsight, this could also backfire. Unfortunately, not a lot of people have enough fantasy or patience left, to really absorb the atmosphere and might not understand your idea behind the image. But that shouldn’t hold you back to realize your own creative motives.
Other famous motives including in fall photography are windows that are covered in rain and condensed water from the inside. Nick Turpin dedicated a whole series to this phenomenon and shows how great this theme can work during the fall.
When the summer is gone, we also have to cope with less light overall. Where brightness accompanied us on our strolls while we were photographing, darkness takes over and challenges us to take a different route.
Photography is often described as “painting with light” and when there is no light how should we paint?
Although it is fairly dark outside, at least in the city we have plenty of light sources still available to use in our favor. They might not be the same highlights as the sun during the daytime, but they give us enough means to work with.
Look out for artificial light sources as a fall photography idea, like advertising signs that illuminate the street. They work best when they are also heavily colored giving you more options during the post-processing.
In the image above taken by Masashi Wakui you are able to see a very lively street scene. Although there is also heavy rain involved, the picture still has a positive vibe, due to the vibrant and multiple colors ranging from blue to orange and a bright red.
This is Rinzi Ruiz’ take on the nightlife in Los Angeles and a great fall photography idea. The situation might look very similar on first sight, with the signs and lamps in the background, but the result is very different. Rinzi Ruiz decided to embed his night scene into a very dark frame which actually takes up most of his image. Instead of a very bright and lively scene, he takes a few steps back and displays a rather sad night with a person walking by slightly hunched over.
As you can see those pictures work very well with a very laid back approach. You don’t have to get into the people’s faces to get a good shot during fall. Search for nice billboards and wait for a person to pass by and you already have a pretty good photograph at night.
Shoot with a slower shutter speed. Most cameras work very well up until 1/10s thanks to the improved image stabilization which should minimize your ISO noise.
When there is no other light source for Fall Photography you have to create them yourself. As photographers, we can work independently and use a flash, either on- or off-camera. I know that it sounds very intimidating at first to wander through the streets using your flash. Contrary to popular belief I found it to be very stress-free to use the off-camera flash and taking pictures of people.
You will notice very fast, that most people are more confused about what you are doing than angry. Others simply don’t care, because you are a photographer and it is only reasonable to use a flash at night when it is dark outside.
Another great reason to shoot at night in fall is that you can become even more inconspicuous. During the day, we might feel observed all the time, because our camera draws a lot of attention to us. People are curious what we are doing and why we are waiting in front of that special shop window that we found interesting.
During the night, your camera is much more low-key and doesn’t frighten other people. You are able to move much more freely, getting closer without blowing your cover.
The flash offers different options for you. You can either photograph like you would during the day, with a fast shutter speed freezing the time, or you can try a much slower shutter speed creating “light paintings”.
An off-camera flash and a slower shutter speed are a great combination to get very creative images. When I am going for this style, I look out for lights in the background. The lights in the background are responsible for the light smears, without any background illumination you will simply get a “normal” flash street image.
To practice this kind of images, I also visit a lot of events happening during the sunset. I know that there will be enough background light to work with and that people won’t be too disturbed by the flash.
Photography Without People
During the darker days in fall, life on the street gets very quiet and lonely at times. We don’t see the masses sitting outside the cafe, chatting and spending their leisure time. If we still want to do Street Photography we have to search for alternatives.
Street Photography is a study of mankind. It is only logical to make human the center of attention when it comes to Street Photography. But to show today’s society we aren’t forced to display people directly.
Just think about how we define our society or culture today. There are a lot of details that describe our way of life without the need to show people’s faces.
Wander through the street and look at all the marks that we as humans leave, that reveal how we live today.
Take all the time you need to arrange these still lifes. Especially when you work on a continuous series, images without people are more than only “fillers”. They can connect different locations in a very elegant way and dictate the tempo of your series.
Conclusion of Fall Photography Ideas
Personally, I feel a sudden drop of my motivation as the temperature gets lower, the sun is hiding and life is happening more inside than on the street. It can be a very frustrating time as a Street Photographer when you work for a few hours on the street feeling the cold breeze and not getting a single decent image. Yet, fall photography can give us new ideas, the summer isn’t able to.
We have to adapt to the different weather and light conditions. Over the time, the winter and especially the December became one of my most anticipated times of the year.
Darkness and Christmas markets open up a lot more opportunities for us Street Photographers than we might think at first glance.
Don’t let yourself hold back by a few raindrops. Remind yourself of the great images that others have created during these “harsh” situations and your motivation to one up these photographers will outweigh any obstacles you have to overcome to get these images.
Have a great time making the best out of every situation – Fall Photography can be a great experience too.
Anyone can get good pictures during perfect settings, but only the expert can master any condition.