1) Timing is everything. Pay attention in the fall to other peoples photos and posts to find when and where the leaves are at their peak. You may want to scout out locations a few weeks before they are in their prime. Time of day matters as well. You have the best chance at great light in the golden hour (just after sunrise and just before sunset).
2) Backlight- leaves pick up light as it filters through. It’s almost cliché to put the sun behind the leaves you are shooting…the reason is that it works. Yellows and reds will really pop in your shot if they are backlit by the sun.
3) Use a polarizing filter- this can help remove glare and get deep blue skies in your images.
4) Look for complimentary colors. A lot of plain blue sky works very well with the yellows of the aspens. Look for color in all of your composition. Subtle changes in color across your image can make for more interest. Deep reds with a deep azure sky can be a thing of beauty.
5) Look for reflections. Find a lake, a puddle, whatever. Fall is a great time to be aware of reflections around you and use them to your advantage. A windless day will really help you to achieve this; ND filters can be handy to slow down your exposures and calm the waters when necessary.
6) Don’t be afraid to shoot leaves on windy days. You can intentionally slow your shutter speed to make a more painterly look and add movement to your photo. ND filters can really help here.
7) Gather some leaves- If you fill up a small bag or a hat with some leaves you can use them later. This is on old trick…but a good one. If you find a nice rock or a nice road you can toss your leaves down on the ground to create a different look to your photo. You can create your own foreground out of just red leaves you collected, or yellow or green… you get the idea. Don’t go overboard though or your transported leaves will look fake and horrible!
8) Bokeh- if you have fast lenses, fall is a great time for amazing blurred images (bokeh). This applies not only to landscapes but portraits as well. You can create a mosaic of color in your photos and have only small details of leaves or rocks (etc.) in your focus. Low apertures give you a great amount of creativity when shooting leaves up close and personal.
9) Move around. Don’t shoot the same photo 3 times to make sure you “got it”. Shoot some photos and move. Change your location, change your angle. Shoot low to the ground, shoot high up over some aspens. Shoot wide panoramas, shoot close in macros. Shoot and move, shoot and move. You will come home with a lot better variety of photos.
10) Use leading lines. Roads make great lines in a photo and you will see a lot of fall photos composed using a road… because it works! Secluded back roads covered in leaves make for some amazing photo opportunities. Speaking of roads, don’t be afraid to take the back ones in the fall, you never know what you might find.