Photographing the fall: Colorful advice for shutterbugsWritten by Staff Reports | | email@example.com
By Katie Gorman
Special to Toledo Free Press
Autumn has arrived, bringing with it some of the most gorgeous color nature has to offer. To capture the stunning sights, Metroparks resident photographer Art Weber offers tips and advice to those hoping to capture the season at its best.
The first rule of fall photography — or photography any time of year: It’s all about the light.
“Light can be filtered by fog and mist, a favorite hallmark of fall,” Weber said. “Start by checking out stream and river valleys where the chilly air of autumn nights blankets water still warm from summer, condensing the humid air into fog that can hang thick like a blanket or rise in magical wisps.”
Those magical wisps, he said, can become “downright spiritual” when the sun forces its way through the fog and mist in dramatic shafts of light. “Photographers even have a spiritual name for them — God rays,” he said.
If it is color you want, Weber, a Toledo Free Press contributor, offers some timely advice, as the first signs of the season are becoming obvious.
“If you wait for our last dominant trees to turn — the oaks, in the case of Metroparks off the river and in the western part of the county — you’ve missed the show.”
Start with the blackgum, a tree easy to overlook most of the year, but not as September rolls around.
“It dots the Metroparks woodlands here and there with its small, rich, red leaves,” Weber said. “Also look on the woodland edges, where sumac and sassafras can be spectacular, along with poison ivy and Virginia creeper.”
Fall offers more for the photographer than just colorful leaves. Weber suggests photographers also remember:
- The full moon, or a scene lit by the full moon.
- The Milky Way shot through the crisp fall air.
- The last wildflowers of the meadow and prairie.
- Migrating birds or mammals prepping for winter survival — squirrels, for example.
- Insects and spiders, at their largest and most obvious this time of year.
“Fall is like a symphony of ebbs and flows, reaching several crescendos before a dramatic all-in finish, then gently fading and ending, finally, with the first floating flakes of snow,” Weber said.
A technique that’s particularly effective in fall, said Weber, is backlighting. “Placing a translucent fall leaf or spray of leaves between the sun and the camera can be stunning,” he said. “Imagine a red maple leaf with the sun behind it, setting the leaf virtually on fire. It’s so red, with the bonus of revealing all the veins and even cell structure of the leaf. It can be a truly memorable shot.”
Fall in the Metroparks
Oak Openings Preserve is Weber’s favorite Metropark to visit in autumn.
“It is, well, simply one of the most special places on Earth,” he said. “Flowers, leaves, dunes, tracks in the dunes, tiny plants etched in frost, ravines and streams. It’s all good. Secor Metropark is the last bastion for color; when all else is finished, almost every year Secor is still hanging on with the last yellows and golds of the season into the first week of November and sometimes beyond.”
But when asked what his favorite spot was to shoot in the fall, Weber replied, “The big black oak in the meadow at Wildwood Preserve. Catch it right and there’s not just the colors of the trees, but the wildflowers that grow in and just outside its shade.”
Autumn Adventure nature walks sponsored by Metroparks are an excellent way to see the best sights each park has to offer, according to Weber. Another favorite, he said, is the Canal Experience at Providence Metropark. “The blend of history — the mill and canal boat — with the river valley and fall colors is just great.”
Weber is director of nature photography at Metroparks of Toledo Area, and a member of the staff at the National Center for Nature Photography, located inside Secor Metropark. To learn more about Autumn Adventure or the photography center, visit MetroparksToledo.com.