Fall is a fabulous time of year to visit the national parks. Crowds are usually smaller than in the summer, temperatures are cooler, and some of our national parks have glorious fall colors. With so many to choose from, where should you go? Which national parks will provide the best photographic opportunities in the fall?
What are the best national parks to photograph in the fall? Here are my choices, grouped by state and province from west to east. This list includes the favorites I have been to, plus the ones I most want to see based on the recommendations of the photographers I trust, like Tim Fitzharris and QT Luong. More about them later.
Marshall Pass is a beautiful fall color drive in southern Colorado, and still pretty much a secret. It does not turn up on most lists of the most beautiful fall color drives in Colorado. It is a beautiful drive with a lot of fall color photo opportunities.
Headed for Colorado this fall? Welcome to my Colorado fall color photography and travel guide with 131 photos, 18 maps, and over 100 pages of information (if you print it all out). I cover some of the best known fall color locations in Colorado, and one real gem of a road that is mostly unknown to photographers and leaf peepers. Spend anywhere from a few days to two weeks exploring the beautiful Colorado Rockies at a gorgeous time of year.
Fall color will soon be sweeping the country (and already is up in Alaska). To make the most of it, you want to be at the right place at the right time. With some help from the internet, I will help you find the best fall color locations at the peak of the season.
The original of this photo was a mistake. A throw away. Anoush and I were doing soft light portraits, thanks to the canopy of leaves overhead. I had carefully metered for the existing shady light conditions. But when I clicked the shutter, thanks to a breeze or something, the sun broke through the leaves and a beam of sunlight hit Anoush’s face and washed over some of the rest of the scene. The result was most of the image ended up somewhere between properly to overexposed, and her face was the most overexposed. It looked bad. The kind of photo most people would discard. But I didn’t throw it away. I learned from one of my photo guru’s years ago never to throw away a photograph, even a bad one.
Like a lot of other photographers, I do “outtakes” in between shooting sessions. I was looking through some travel outtakes recently and realized a lot of them were taken in between shooting locations while sitting at traffic lights, stuck in traffic jams, waiting for the rain to stop, waiting for the cold winter winds to die down, or just waiting for the quality of the light to get better. Each of these outtakes is connected in my memory with some of my favorite images. Take for example the right center image of Vassanta asleep in the car.
I had a great time on a recent photo shoot with Tabitha. I will take you through the shoot and make some suggestions that you can use in your own portrait photography. As is my custom before doing a photo shoot with someone for the first time, I asked Tabitha to go through my online portraits and any other online portraits she could find and let me know what she liked. She picked outdoor portraits, some of them among flowers, some of them in soft light, and some of them backlit by the sun. In some of the photos the subject was standing or kneeling, and in some the subject was laying in a bed of flowers. So that is what we planned on doing. The day before the photo shoot I scouted several locations to see which ones had flowers currently in bloom.
Soft light is the most flattering all purpose light for most portraits. It enhances good features and minimizes flaws in the skin. Some of the best soft light is outside on “cloudy bright” days. Those are the days that there is enough cloud cover that you don’t cast a shadow but not so many clouds that it is dark and gloomy. Another test of a good cloudy bright day is to see if you can look at the sky without squinting. If you squint there aren’t enough clouds.
Beth and I were on a mission to create fall color water portraits. Shooting at Lake LaShane was not part of the fall color plan. In advance of the day of our shoot I scouted several lakes, steams,and rivers in the area to find the best fall color. Only one location had the kind of fall color by the water that I wanted, Slip Bluff Lake.
The first thing to do is to ask permission ahead of time. Some places do not allow photography during the performance or they limit the number of photographers. In this case, Beth asked me to photograph her recital and I was the official photographer. One of the keys to photographing an event is not to become a serious distraction from the main event. That means not doing a lot of wandering around, and certainly not getting in front of people who are watching the event. Be as discreet as possible. If you need to move during a performance, if at all possible do it during the applause between numbers.
You don’t often come across really nice “rim light”, so when it happens, make the most of it. I happened to glance out the window and saw this squirrel surrounded by rim light and grabbed a camera.
Are you planning a spring photography trip to one or more U.S. national parks? Where should you go? Which parks will provide the best photographic opportunities? Which parks are at their best in the spring?
Which national parks are at their very best in the spring? If I could go on a fabulous spring photography trip to the national parks of my choice, all expenses paid, which ones would I pick? Here are my choices, grouped by state from west to east. This list includes the favorites I have been to and want to go back to again, plus the ones I haven’t seen and most want to photograph.
Big Bend National Park is one of my favorite places on the planet. My photography guide to Big Bend is here. March and April are good months to go. You will see more flowers in mid to late April but it will also be hotter. Fall is a prime time also. If you don’t mind the chance of a sudden cold spell and maybe some snow, I like winter in Big Bend too, but most people prefer spring and fall. Summer is ungodly hot.
It was a week and a half after Valentine’s Day and most of the dozen Valentine’s Day roses in a vase on the dining room table were done and had been thrown away, but a few were still looking good. I asked Sami to lay on the floor, handed her a long stemmed rose, and I carefully arranged her hair. Then I stood up and pulled the best looking petals off of more roses and randomly dropped them on her. Some didn’t land quite right so I re-positioned a couple of them.
I was processing this image of Lyn Marie in Photoshop and the longer I looked at it the more I decided the color of the door frames, carpet, and walls took away from her colorful clothing. It made sense to me to remove all color from the image except Lyn Marie. In this tutorial I will show you how to do that.
This is one of my all time favorite winter images. On a prior photo shoot, Beth and I went out into the cold and snow to create images. She played her violin while I took pictures. It was her first time shooting in the cold and snow and she was a real trooper. For that shoot she wore her long black concert dress. The snow melted not long after that, but we decide if another day came along with the right conditions we wanted to shoot in the now again.
Thanks to the recent Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), photographing birds has been my thing lately. On a fine, chilly winter day with slightly diffused sunlight, I found this Cardinal in the snow.
I’ve been waiting for a sunny day for a while to photograph the Purple Finches that started coming to our bird feeders a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday I finally got my chance. This fellow landed on top of our deck umbrella before heading for one of the feeders.
Thanks to the weather and the recommendations from U.S. medical experts that this is not the time to be traveling, I have been doing much more photography than usual of the birds visiting our bird feeders. This male House Finch had just grabbed a black oil sunflower seed and was getting ready to eat it.
I was leading a photography workshop in Northern Michigan and we were out on a night sky field trip at Lake Michigan. We started seeing some flickering in the northern sky which developed into this display of the Northern Lights. It was a great night at the lakeshore.
I was working in the studio with the beautiful Lela Rae. This is an example of cross lighting which creates nice contours and shadows. There is one light to her left and one to her right, almost directly opposite each other. I decided to use colored gels over the lights which I thought would enhance the look of the image..
George Lepp is directly responsible for this image and he was standing just a few feet away from me as I clicked the shutter. There is a story leading up to this trip and the capture of this image.
I was walking our dog Sunny and he wanted to go to a nearby park. The park was filled with dandelions and a few puffballs. I was soon down on the ground creating images of dandelions.
It was a beautiful winter morning and my brother-in-law/photo buddy and I were up long before sunrise to capture the early morning light. It was our good fortune that it had snowed a bit. The light was beautiful. With the coming of the sun the snow disappeared, as did the magic of the light.