Editor’s note: It’s the season for fall colors and the photographers who travel distances, wake early, grab the best light and work with the weather. Pro photographer Joseph Roybal knows how to master all of these elements and helps guide others during his Fall Color workshops.
He took time to share the experience of capturing the beauty of fall in his home state of Colorado in this guest blog. We hope you’ll get inspired to create colorful and dramatic images based on Joseph’s tips. His Lowepro bag of choice for this recent event was the Inverse 200 AW beltpack. “I love it for the simplicity and ease of access to all of my camera gear without having to take it off or set it down,” he said.
“As photographers, we are always looking forward to the inspiration of each season and uniting this with our vision: winter for creating dynamic, soft images; spring for rain, storms and first blooms; summer for endless possibilities – from wilderness camping to night photography; and to the season this article is all about – fall, specifically in Colorado.
To me, fall is the landscape photographer’s ideal season. Nature and weather seem to cooperate. Snow-capped mountains are created from an early storm. Gorgeous yellows and reds in the aspens are particularly dramatic and interesting when juxtaposed with storm clouds. When all of these come together, jump for joy!
Here in Colorado, the fall season varies, but typically begins around the middle of September in areas further north and goes through the middle of October further south. In fall there are several image-making factors we must be aware of, and when we are, we can come away with some incredibly powerful and gorgeous images.
First and foremost, color. Fall photography is dedicated to this and if you know approximately when the colors are going to peak in given areas, you can make an educated guess on when you need to arrive. I like to dedicate at least five days in any area I am shooting. This year in Colorado the colors were about one week later than usual, and by following this, I timed my workshop in the Dallas Divide area near Telluride in attempt to match this and to get the best images possible for the participants.
The second image-making factor is light – it’s what photography is based upon and should be studied. Knowing how to read light, understanding its warmth and what that can create in your images later in post-processing is power. In the image with the Sneffels Range illuminated by a light ray, several photographers in the area of our workshop put their away their cameras and broke down their tripods, leaving just minutes before this scene unfolded. Combining knowledge of light with technical know-how will help your images soar.
The third image-making factor is weather. I find that weather is paramount in creating interest and drama in your photography. The absence of interesting weather conditions can make a landscape image look flat and lack appeal. Trees leaves may be peaking. There may have been a fresh snow overnight. If you can add the drama of storm clouds hovering over the peaks or the landscape you are shooting, voilà; you now have an image that will impress. Always looking for a strong and simple composition in your image making is critical.
The fourth image-making factor I emphasize in my Fall Color workshops is movement. Creating blurred and sweeping clouds, silky water or another element of motion adds the power of movement into your image-making process, and can pull the viewer in and add a lot of interest. Here in Colorado we are blessed with cold nights and warm days that lends to the creation of water and ice images. These kinds of photographs can add diversity to any portfolio.
In everything, having fun is what motivates, and in photography, keeping it enjoyable is important. Getting out of a warm sleeping bag or bed at 4:30 am and going out in 15-degree weather is never easy. However, if you have studied the weather, know where you want to be at sunrise/sunset and have envisioned the types of images you want to create, I firmly believe this will allow you to come home with some great images this fall season. There is still time to get out before the trees have lost all of their leaves and I wish you the best. Good luck and happy shooting!”