Make Fall Foliage Pictures More Colorful

I can already see some trees in my area of western Montana starting to show early color shifts from green to red. One of the ways to make any colorful image more vibrant is to use a polarizing filter (or polarizer). After screwing the filter onto the front of your lens, rotate the outer ring and notice how reflections disappear from leaf and wet surfaces, revealing the color beneath.

Leaves on a wet rock near a small waterfall
A polarizer removed the glare and let the colors through.

I don't recommend leaving a polarizer on all the time. It is a dark filter that blocks some light, making your exposure times longer. If the polarizer isn't helping intensify the colors in the scene, then the longer exposure time isn't worth it.

The same scene without the polarizer applied.

Also, use the polarizer alone on the lens; do not stack it on top of a UV or Skylight filter you might have attached to protect the front lens element. Stacking two or more filters together can cause vignetting (darkening the edges of the frame), especially with wide-angle lenses.

Learn more about filters for better color in my class Photographing Fall Colors from Start to Finish that begins October 10, 2019, in Missoula, Montana. Click here to register.