Find Your View
To truly capture the beauty of autumn, try shifting your perspective. For instance, if you're deep in a forest, turn your camera straight up with a wide-angle lens for a dizzying view. This works best on a sunny day, when the sun is high overhead and the translucent leaves seem to glow from within when backlit. The stronger the light, the better the effect. Keep them from becoming overexposed by checking your histogram.
To create an eye-catching point of interest try including the sun in your composition and add a starburst effect. Use a wide-angle lens set to a small aperture such as f/11 or f/16; the smaller the aperture, the more pronounced the effect. To reduce lens flare when shooting directly at the sun, block part of it with a tree trunk or branch. Don't block the sun completely, though; you need just enough to create a strong burst.
Telephoto zoom lenses, such as a 70–200mm, are perfect for fall scenes. They allow you to home in on important details and take advantage of telephoto compression, which is an optical illusion that appears to flatten perspective in a distant scene. Use telephoto zooms to isolate a particularly colorful section of scenery or to photograph a distant hillside alive with color. Use one for still life and detail shots, too, such as photos of dew or frost-covered leaves carpeting the forest floor.
When shooting leaves on the ground, align your camera plane parallel to the subject plane to minimize the depth of field you need to ensure sharp focus. Stop down and use a small aperture, such as f/16, to get corner-to-corner sharpness.
For colorful leaves still hanging from the branches, zoom in tight to isolate the leaves from the background. On a still day when no breeze stirs the leaves, juxtapose them against water rushing over rocks in a stream and use a long exposure to blur the motion of the water.