One of the most magical moments of the year is when autumn foliage emerges in beautiful shades of red, yellow, orange, purple and blue. It’s a photographer and videographer’s dream to capture these vibrant colours as nature plays its course during leaf peeping season, which takes place late September through mid-October in the northern hemisphere. Let’s explore where to go and how to capture these moments to share with friends and loved ones.
The Catskills, New York
Whether you’re driving, hiking or riding a train through the region, the opportunities for leaf peeping stretch on for miles in The Catskills. Mount Utsayantha towers more than 3,000 feet above the village of Stamford. When you’re at its peak, you will find a fire tower to climb for a 360-degree view of the mountainside. At Hunter Mountain, you can ride a six-passenger chairlift for stunning views of the northern Catskills, and in some cases even the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts and the Green Mountains of Vermont when the sky is clear.
Lake Memphremagog, Vermont
Vermont is the largest producer of Maple Syrup in the United States, and Maple Trees’ leaves change most dramatically during the season. Memphremagog Lake sits right on the Canadian border and is a popular lake house rental destination in Vermont. The mountains and town of Newport provide a beautiful backdrop of changing autumn leaves. Shattuck Hill is one of the more popular spots in the area that overlooks the Lake and surrounding trees.
One of the most romantic cities in the world, Paris becomes even more charming during autumn as hues of golden leaves surround beautiful spots around the city. In the Jardin des Tuileries, fountains, chestnut trees and the Arc Du Triomphe await, the ideal spot for a picture-perfect moment. Parc des Buttes Chaumont is the steepest park in Paris, where a hilltop temple and breathtaking waterfall offer a scenic escape from the bustling city streets.
One of my all time favourites, the viewing of autumn leaves is called “momijigari” in Japanese. Famous for cherry blossoms in the spring, maple trees surround the city’s many temples turning a fiery red during the autumn. Tofuku-ji, Nanzen-ji, Ginkaku-ji and Honen-in Temples are all iconic sights during the season and in the mountain village of Takao, the mountainsides are filled with colour-changing maples.
Prague, Czech Republic
The capital city has earned the nickname “Golden Prague” for it’s vibrant colour change during autumn. The Petřín Hill Observation Tower is set upon the city’s highest hill, offering incredible views of copper and gold foliage. Průhonice Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is another popular spot from the top of the Gloriette, a garden pavilion perched high on a hill behind the U.S. Embassy in Prague.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe and a firm social media favourite, the nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace sits on top of a hill in the Alps of Bavaria, Germany. The surrounding landscapes creating a vibrant backdrop to the fairytale-esque castle as the leaves start to turn.
While taking photos or videos during your leaf peeping adventure, use the geo-tagging tool in Instagram for inspiration. This will bring up all the photos and videos that have been taken in that place, showing you what works and what other unique techniques visitors have used to capture their shot. It will help you come up with a different way to shoot, or tell you the best position to shoot from.
When shooting in the wilderness, the Beautiful Destinations team prefers to visit just after it has rained and the sun is emerging again. Foliage will be shiny and lush, creating vibrant colors, beautiful tones and the potential for amazing reflections in puddles or pools. Use natural elements to frame your photo (e.g. tree trucks or leaves) and try to have a focal element in the shot which people can focus their attention on, maybe something with a contrasting color or a path that is leading through the trees. Avoid going in the middle of the day. During this time, light shines through the leaves and sometimes leaves harsh shadows and blown out highlights, giving a very spotty look. If it’s cloudy, morning or evening, you have a much better chance at even lighting to really show off colours.
If you are shooting trees within a mountain range, always think about layers. There are so many different environments and micro-climates that sit between you and the peak of a mountain, so find a vantage point that allows you to see the different layers and capture the changing conditions. Always look for leading lines like roads or fences. For example, the foreground could be a river snaking through the frame, the middle layers leading up the mountain could be different types of forest, and then they all lead to the mountain in the background. This also provides a sense of scale.
After you’ve captured the perfect shot and you’re ready to edit, download a professional editing app such as Snapseed or VSCO to fix and enhance your photo. These apps will help sharpen an image or bring out the saturation of the leaves’ colour.
Follow @beautifuldestinations on Instagram for any autumn travel inspiration and ideas!