The Green

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5 Tips for Perfect Fall Leaf Photos in the White Mountains

3 Min Read

Autumn is a fantastic time of year for photographers to capture the picturesque views of aspen and oak trees in the White Mountains, with colors peaking from mid-October into November.  The landscape lights up when the sun is at a low position during the hours around sunrise and sunset, which results in a picturesque soft glow. This often gives a beautiful ‘pop’ to the vibrant autumn colors. Whether you use your phone camera or a digital camera, the result will be beautiful photos representing a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Consider the following factors as you prepare for fall photos:

1. Locations

A wide range of fall colors can be found in the White Mountains throughout a broad region that takes in the Mogollon Rim communities of Pine and Strawberry to the west of Show Low, plus Springerville and Mount Baldy to the east/southeast. Look for locations with varied views, colorful trees and an area to set up a tripod if you choose to use one. You’ll want to capture both wide angle views and single leaf closeups. See our blog on Best Fall Hikes for location ideas. 

2. Time and Lighting

The best time for outdoor photography is during the golden hour, the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset, when the daylight is redder and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky. If taking a photo of people with the sun in the background, use a flash to overpower the shadows on the faces of your subjects.

Overcast days also offer a good lighting opportunity, with soft, low contrast lighting that allows foliage colors to look saturated and rich. Without direct light on leaves, there is much less glare to deal with as well. 

If you are photographing people and the bright sun causes them to squint, have them close their eyes and listen as you count down from three to one. On one, have them open their eyes while you instantly take the photo. This can also work for people who close their eyes every time a picture is taken. Start with eyes closed then open on the count.

3. Eye Level

Try for eye level if taking a photo of multiple leaves on a branch, making them look fuller and more colorful. In windy weather, you’ll need a faster shutter speed to keep the leaves from blurring and looking out of focus.

If kids and dogs are favorite subjects, bring your camera down to eye level as well, using leaves as the background. Taking your shots eye-to-eye connects viewers with the photograph in a personal way, bringing them to life. For more than one person, place your subjects front and back and adjust your depth of field to keep faces in focus. Increase the f-stop — the size of aperture on your lens — to increase your depth of field. More depth of field means more faces and leaves in focus.

For a smartphone camera, you will get a better picture with the subjects in the middle of the frame, side by side, rather than stacking them one behind the other, for more clearly focused faces.

4. Composition

Try to use the rule of thirds when taking photos. Look at the image in your viewfinder and divide it into thirds either from left to right or top to bottom. Place your subject, whether it’s a tree or a person, lined up with the area that is in the left or right third of the image.

If want more than trees as a main subject, try rocks, wildlife, buildings, tractors, fences or whatever else provides a focus. 

5. Share

Be sure to share your breathtaking views of Arizona’s autumn leaves with others, whether on social media, by email or gifting them with prints!

Located just three hours from Phoenix in Show Low, Ariz., Torreon is a luxury golfing community nestled in the White Mountains. It offers convenience, world-class recreation, and amenities for the entire family. Offering everything from a sprawling outdoor pool, expansive fitness center to award-winning food at Torreon Grille as well as a family and game center, fishing pond and endless trails throughout the community, every member or guest is sure to enjoy time at Torreon. Learn more at

Contact Linda Cedarblade, designated broker for Torreon Realty at (928) 532-3030 or for more information on gorgeous, high-country lots or move-in-ready Golf Villas nestled in the White Mountains.