How to capture vibrant fall foliage with your digital camera

Fall (or autumn, for many of you) is my favorite season of the year, particularly because of the crisp weather and beautiful falling leaves. Capturing the vibrancy of the foliage can easily be done with either a pocket camera or digital SLR.

Fall (or autumn, for many of you) is my favorite season of the year, particularly because of the crisp weather and beautiful falling leaves. Capturing the vibrancy of the foliage can easily be done with either a pocket camera or digital SLR. Here are five tips to get you started:

1. Equipment: You should be able to capture fall scenes with either a digital SLR or pocket camera, but consider using a device with a higher megapixel count to really capture the crispness of the foliage.

2. Timing: Photographer Dale Stevens recommends shooting in the morning to avoid smog and dust in your pictures, but also right after a rain. The rainfall brings out the leaves colors and makes them more vibrant. Plus, it would be a nice touch to have some dewdrops dripping from the crisp leaves. Personally, I prefer the one hour before sunset (the "magic hour") since I love the way the shadows fall and the warmer clouds at this time of day.

3. Composition: Don't just point your camera at a tree, and press the shutter button. Try using the rule of thirds on certain small objects, and tilt your camera in different directions to avoid boring, subject-always-in-the-center-type photos. Also, don't stand still in one place. Consider shooting many different aspects of the trees, what's around the trees, how the leaves reflect off bodies of water, etc. Take both macro-mode shots of objects (leaves, nuts, pine cones) and then also big-picture stuff (roads, forests, the way logs have fallen). Chase a chipmunk if you have to, just move around.

4. Filters: Polarizing filters are often recommended for landscape photography, since they take some of the shine off foliage and also enhance the color of blue skies. It's not absolutely necessary, but they do provide an extra touch to your photos.

5. Shutter Speed: Wind can often get in your way, either blowing leaves away or shaking your hand a tad when shooting a picture. If you notice a lot of wind and/or you're having trouble with blur, use a setting of 1/250 of a second or higher. If its really a problem, find a flat surface (perhaps a tree trunk) or a tripod to steady your camera.

Do you have any extra suggestions for taking autumn photos?