Fall is in the air. You can feel it and see it. Soon a tapestry of color will appear as the sweltering temperatures of a Tennessee summer give way to cooler nights and crisp sunny days. The first hints of fall color will appear in the upper elevations of East Tennessee in October and continue through early November in Middle and West Tennessee.
As a photographer, fall is my favorite time of year to be outside, experiencing fall harvest festivals, outdoor hiking adventures, scenic drives and leaf-peeping. I find myself always gravitating to the mountains for fall color.
Planning your trip can be somewhat tenuous as the appearance of fall color depends on the weather. There are several online resources to track the progress of fall color and peak viewing times for specific areas. Some of the best resources are through state or national park websites for the locations you wish to visit.
This time of year also provides great photographic opportunities to capture images of wildlife and migratory birds during your fall color trips. The best times of day to shoot fall color is early in the morning and late in the afternoon. The sun is at a much lower angle and will cast a warmer light, creating intense colors and interesting shadows. Fog can also be present, especially at sunrise, adding another interesting element to your photographs.
There are always exceptions to every photography rule — as is the image above. I found this during midday light as I was scouting out a location for a sunset shot. It was overcast, so the sky was acting as a giant soft box, evenly lighting the leaves resting on the surface of Radnor Lake in Nashville.
I set up my tripod directly over the area I wanted to capture and made sure it was level. I added a circular polarizer to my lens to cut out a slight glare on the water.
I love the simplicity of this image. To some it might only look like leaf litter that’s underfoot. To me it represents the changing of seasons from the greens of summer to the colors of fall and the beginnings of winter as the leaves fade to brown.
To every leaf, to every color, there is a season.
Check out our online-exclusive for top leaf-peeping locations across Tennessee.