Lessons through the lens: Autumn leaf-throwing photography tips


Here are some Autumn leaf-throwing photography tips for half term fun! Leaf showers are fun to photograph and make great photos to frame. It just takes a little forward thinking, preparation and planning to get the desired photos you are hoping for.  Below, I have set out 8 steps to help you capture happy family snaps of your children.

Smiley Day Photography

1. Set the camera to shoot in continuous shooting mode/sport mode which has a quick shutter speed and will stop the movement blur. (On a DSLR camera, this is the icon on the  circle dial with the little man running!)  In some low-light conditions the photos may come out a bit dark in this mode, but you can fix that later if you have photo editing software.  A quick shutter speed of TV 1/800 can do the same.  (Both will capture moments without the movement blur in a fast paced scene.)

2. Choose a leafy spot.  National Trust properties have some lovely areas at this time of year, but so do parks etc. If there aren’t lot of leaves on the ground yet, collect a bunch under trees that have lost their’s and make a little pile of leaves where you want them.  (Be aware that dry leaves float down nicely while wet ones drop quickly and stick to clothes and faces.)

3. Have a look at what’s in the background. Move yourself around so that the background is pleasing to the eye. A background filled with a solid colour or fill  is more pleasing to the eye than white sky.

4. Whether you have a DSLR camera, or a “point and click”, if you look in the menu section, you’ll see a section that gives options for shooting in auto, sunlight, cloud, shade, snow, tungsten, or flash. Change the white balance to “shade” if photographing in Shutter priority (TV) as this will give your photos even more of a yellow hue to them and accentuates the yellow leaves.  Alternatively if photographing in sports mode, you can do this afterwards in Lightroom (if you have that photo editing software.)  If you have Lightroom, photograph the scene in RAW. (You’ll find the option to change to this in your menu

5. Bring the subjects into “the spot” you want them and encourage them to all take a bundle of leaves, stand and wait until for count to 3 then throw them up altogether. Be really enthusiastic and make it super exciting in the way you prep them and count.  You’ll see the anticipation build in their facial expressions.  (Take note – Some kiddies see a pile of  leaves and jump or kick them and they just might not comply with your photo plans.  Such is life. Good luck! )  If you have a little one and a helper, seat your little person in a leafy spot with leaves covering the ground around them and ask your helper to sprinkle leaves down from above.

6. Have your camera set to continuous shooting then you’re ready to begin.  Explain clearly to your leaf-throwers what you’d like them to do.  Take your photos  from the moment everyone gets ready to the last leaf floating down by holding down the shutter release button. (Photo-taking button.)


7. Retry 2-3 times. Check your photos and see if you’re in the best spot, check that their heads or body parts are in the photo and turn the camera to portrait view  and try that.   You’ll get a lot of photos to choose from and hopefully there’ll be a perfect one in there with eyes open, delightful laughs, excited anticipation and  that you’ll want to print and frame.


8. Afterwards, take the SD card out of your camera, slot it into your computer drive and upload all the photos onto your laptop or desktop.  Name the folder with the year, month, day and a title, open it and create a new folder inside it for “Favourites”  Copy and paste your favs into it.  If you have a photo editing tool like Lightroom,  which I use, select favourites, adjust the exposure if needed, change the white balance to shade, use the straightening tool to correct any skewed horizons, then when you’re happy export, save in a “favourites folder” and…get it printed!

Autumn is one one my favourite seasons for photographing families. Sunrises and sunsets are in more sociable hours for family shoots and in the golden hour. (The “golden hour” is when the sun is close to dipping behind the horizon and there are about 20-40 minutes when the light takes on a beautiful golden hue as it filters over the horizon.   Skin tones in this gorgeous golden hue are beautiful  and landscapes magical. This usually occurs just before it gets dark in the evening or just after dawn. Look out for this on the next sunshiny Autumn sunset.) If you can, snap some pics in this light and see how pretty it looks on camera!

I would love to hear from you if you’d like me to photograph your family this Autumn!  I only have a few slots left but would love you to have one of the last ones.  Capturing happy memories while my clients have fun with their families, making memories outdoors in a pretty location, is what one of my favourite things.


    Have a happy half term!

    Angela Birchall

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