Fall Photography at Mass Audubon

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This article was featured in the Fall 2018 issue of Explore, our quarterly magazine for members.
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Most New Englanders will agree that one of the greatest perks of living in the region is the breathtaking color display that sweeps across the countryside in late September and early October.

The spectacular fall foliage that graces the natural places of Massachusetts is a photographer’s dream, and Mass Audubon’s wildlife sanctuaries are often the perfect place to snap a stunning photo of the landscapes, late-blooming flowers, and wildlife that make fall so special in the Northeast.

In fact, many of Mass Audubon’s wildlife sanctuaries offer photography workshops both in autumn and year-round, including Broadmoor, Boston Nature Center, Long Pasture, Arcadia, and South Shore sanctuaries. We've gathered a few exquisite fall photographs taken by some of the talented photographers that lead these programs, along with their best advice for lighting, composition, and technique to capture the highlights of fall in all its splendor.

 To find a nature photography program at a wildlife sanctuary near you, visit massaudubon.org/photography.

Red leaves on a maple tree at BNC © Eduardo del Solar
© Eduardo del Solar

Boston Nature Center (Mattapan)

"To me, photography is about capturing a feeling in the places we visit. In this image, I went to BNC quite late during the day when the light is usually soft and colors render with greater vibrancy. The sun kept coming in and going away, so I waited for the light to hit a portion of this branch to freeze it in time."

—Eduardo del Solar

Scarlet Oak in autumn at Long Pasture © Ronald Wilson
Scarlet Oak © Ronald Wilson

Long Pasture (Barnstable)

"During the summer when I am in the field, I often find myself visualizing how autumn will transform the landscape. On this day, the light from an overcast sky created conditions that I favor when photographing in the woods: even lighting without the harsh contrast that bright sunlight can bring. I found room to back up and fill the frame cleanly with the impressive size of this Scarlet Oak without distracting elements."

—Ronald Wilson

Northern Harrier at Daniel Webster © Sean P. Carey
Northern Harrier © Sean P. Carey

Daniel Webster (Marshfield)

"Daniel Webster is one of my favorite locations to see and photograph wildlife and late fall can be a great time for it, especially from the platform at Fox Hill. I will sometimes sit at this spot quietly for a few hours and wait to see what birds or other wildlife appear. If you stay very still and do not make any sudden movements, you are sometimes rewarded with a few nice wildlife photos and even better memories."

—Shawn P. Carey

Waterfall in autumn at Broadmoor © Ethan Gordon
© Ethan Gordon

Broadmoor (Natick)

"This is one of my all-time favorite shots that I’ve taken. I captured it at Broadmoor using a neutral density filter and a 15-second exposure. The long exposure gives the water its silky- smooth appearance, and gives the leaves the impression of movement. It also tends to help saturate colors."

—Ethan Gordon

Fall fern at Laughing Brook © Kevin Kopchynski
© Kevin Kopchynski

Laughing Brook (Hampden)

"Ferns offer a wonderful combination of symmetry and curves. They take on variegated patterns and rich earth tones in the fall. Add some warm, late-afternoon backlighting and you’ll walk away with a great fall impression.  You need separation between the subject and background for the best effect of a sharper subject and blurred background. Look for an individual that stands out a bit from the rest to help achieve this. This subject was in the middle of a dense stand of ferns and I did not want to trample it. Always be mindful of those who will visit after you."

—Kevin Kopchynski

Metallic Green Bee at Broadmoor (Photo: Joy Marzolf)
Metallic Green Bee (Photo: Joy Marzolf)

Broadmoor (Natick)

"I think the most important part of taking a good photo is to go slowly while keeping one’s eyes and mind open. When we move too quickly, sometimes we do notsee the beauty right in front of us. One of my best recommendations is to keep taking classes! Feedback from an instructor can make a big difference in how quickly budding photographers can improve their eye and their images."

—Joy Marzolf

Reflections on the surface of Laughing Brook © Kevin Kopchynski
© Kevin Kopchynski

Laughing Brook (Hampden)

“Reflections give you a chance to play with color, texture, and light. They are a bit darker and often have richer, more saturated color than the direct subject. This image was made upstream where the Green Forest Trail bends away from the stream for the last time. I used a 35mm lens at f/22 to get sharp rocks, and a five-second exposure to emphasize texture and color. The contrast of texture between the water and the rock gives a different and refreshing look.”

—Kevin Kopchynski