Tips for Fall Photography

Talking Fall Photography

Posted September, 16 2022

As the summer heat finally starts to relent, powder days and snowy mornings are top of mind for many of us. Not so fast! Fall may be gone in the blink of an eye here in the mountains, but it has plenty to offer. With dropping temps, the mountain foliage lights up in a sea of gold, and the jagged peaks of the Rockies become frosted with snow. Fall is the perfect time to spend hours on end outdoors, with a wide range of activities to take part in.

One of those activities that both amateurs and professionals like to take part in is fall photography. Photographers from around the world flock to the mountains as the foliage changes in hopes of capturing that perfect photo. Today, we will be going over how to capture that perfect goldenfall photo.

Preparation & Weather

One of the most important parts of fall photography is planning. Looking at both the weather and foliage forecast will play an integral part in making sure the stars align when you find yourself on the mountain ready to capture. You can find foliage forecasts online, giving you a general idea when the leaves will be at their peak color. Generally, middle to late September is peak foliage, but that can change based on seasonal variables.

A bright sunny morning during peak foliage will make for amazing shots, making those golden aspen leaves glow even brighter. With that being said, don’t let a rainy, overcast day discourage you from getting out and capturing. Sometimes the best fall photos come when the stark contrast of gray skies and vibrant leaves mash together to really show how amazing the fall colors are. There is something to be captured in all conditions. Those weather and light conditions will determine how you want to dial in your settings.


Here at Vail Mountain, we are known for our Seven Legendary Back Bowls. When it comes to fall however, the front side takes the cake. Aspen trees make up much of the forest on the front side of the mountain, and with aspens come bright yellow leaves ready to be captured.

The two best ways to capture fall photography are from afar, and in the thick of the aspen grove. Capturing from afar allows you to see the vastness of yellow colors, while giving you a sense of place surrounding what you’re shooting. Heading to the south side of the valley and shooting back at Vail Mountain will allow you to see the entire front of the mountain. If you’d like to get more up close and personal photos of the foliage, the Berry Picker trail is for you. Berry Picker weaves its way in and out of amazing aspen groves, giving you the opportunity to capture those infamous white trunks, and yellow leaves. If the sun is just right, it’ll peak through the leaves and create an amazing and unmistakable yellow glow in your shot.

Technique and Timing

The best part about photography is there is no “right” way to take a photo. It’s up to the discretion of the photographer how they want to capture what is in front of them, and it leaves room for plenty of creativity.

There are a few basics to follow to ensure you get the most out of your expedition.

  • Lighting: Lighting is VERY important. The best way to make certain you get the perfect lighting for your photographs is either an early or late start. Early morning or late afternoon light will give you a soft feel to your photos, rather than sunlight that is directly overhead.

  • Learn your settings: The next thing to keep in mind is to have a basic understanding of the camera you plan on capturing with. In today's world, phone photography can produce some amazing shots, so if you don’t own the greatest and latest camera, don’t worry – get out there! The important piece is knowing how to utilize your camera's strengths, and making sure your settings are where you want them. It's best to capture the photo how you want by adjusting settings prior to taking the photo rather than trying to make up for mistakes later with editing. Shooting in “RAW” format, which most phones and more advanced cameras offer, will allow you to edit your photos exactly how you want.

  • Editing: Sometimes the best photos happen when they don’t turn out exactly as planned. If you have the lighting and settings right, then you’re able to find a way to be creative while editing - so don’t get discouraged when they are not looking how you want when you first take them

  • Variety: Finally, make sure to capture a wide variety of photos. Taking the same or a similar photo over and over again becomes repetitive and takes the fun out of it. By capturing a wide variety of photos, it allows you to find that one amazing photo that comes out just the way you wanted.


Photography is meant to be fun, and that’s exactly what we encourage when shooting on Vail Mountain! Capturing the mountain’s fall scenes can be an amazing activity that takes anywhere from 5 minutes, or five days when waiting for the perfect conditions. When everything aligns, it's amazing to see the beauty that fall can offer here in the Vail Valley. If you do happen to capture any shots that you are proud of, feel free to send them to us @vailmtn on Instagram for a chance to be featured on our social media channels. Good luck and happy shooting!