Fall offers an amazing time to take stunning photos in farm country. Vibrant leaves, golden grain and farm equipment, accented by a rich blue sky or the soft light of morning and evening, create spectacular opportunities for harvest photos.
Here are my top 8 tips on how to capture these magnificent colors and memorable images:
1. Shoot in the golden hours.
I’ve captured some of my favorite harvest photos in the early morning as the sun is rising behind a grain truck being filled with grain, and towards evening when the sunset washes the landscape with a soft, golden light.
2. Avoid shooting into the sun.
Shooting into the sun will result in shadows, lower saturation of colors and lens flare. On sunny days, try to keep the sun at your back. If you do have to shoot into the sun, use a lens hood or shield your lens with something to avoid lens flare.
3. Don’t shy away from overcast days.
An overcast day is great for some photography, mainly because the light is soft and even. But doesn’t a cloudy sky mean the intensity of the color is decreased? Not at all. Since autumn colors are saturated, they contrast nicely with gray. Just frame up the picture to feature more of the colors and less of the sky.
4. Change your perspective.
Sometimes the simplest way to improve your autumn photography is to shift your vantage point from eye-level. Climb up on a bin or truck to get a view from above, or squat down low to shoot upwards at your subject. Changing your vantage point provides a unique, unexpected perspective.
5. Consider close-ups.
Try shooting some close-up photos that help capture the details of harvest. I like to peel back the husk and shoot golden ears of corn, for example. This works especially well if you shoot upward, so the kernels contrast against the blue sky. Also, try this technique with brilliant colored leaves for added interest.
6. Play around with panoramas.
Sprawling landscapes of corn or soybean fields where harvest is underway with a combine, multiple combines and/or tractors, catch wagons and semi-trucks, can create compelling images. If the image is too wide to capture in one shot, take multiple shots and stitch them together in a photo software program like Adobe Lightroom, which can create panoramas.
7. Find the frost.
Depending on the year, cold snaps can leave interesting patterns on leaves that already offer interesting patterns. Shoot first thing in the morning to see what frost can do for your autumn images.
8. Experiment with silhouettes.
While silhouettes may seem tricky, they are quite simple. They also offer a wonderful way to convey drama and emotion, thanks to their simplicity. I love them because they don’t give the viewer a clear picture of everything, which leaves part of the image up to the imagination. Try shooting silhouettes towards sunset. Place your subject (the shape you want to be blacked out) in front of the light source (in this case, the sun). This will force your camera to set its exposure based on the brightest part of your picture (the background) and not the subject. Do this right, and your subject will be underexposed (dark, if not black)—exactly what you want.
Like any photography, the key to success with harvest photography is to experiment, keep learning, practice often and have fun. I’ll be shooting lots of photos for VistaComm clients this fall, plus I’d love to see the harvest photos you capture. Connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.