Gold Rush – Capturing the Beauty of Steamboat’s Fall Foliage

Fall in Steamboat is as beautiful as it is fleeting, which is why we want so desperately to be able to capture the moment with a photograph. How many times have you tried with your smart phone camera and felt like the image didn’t do it justice? We turned to Corey Kopischke, a professional photographer who has spent most of his life chasing light and seizing the moment one frame at a time for some tips.

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A former freestyle skier, he learned a lot about photography from working as an athlete in numerous photoshoots over the years. Kopischke was never formally trained in photography, but learned firsthand how it was done in the field. “I would bring my camera and shoot over the photographer’s shoulder,” he says. After living in Steamboat for 28 years and working for Steamboat magazine as a senior staff photographer and part time photo editor, he has logged in a lot of days shooting fall colors.

During the brief but beautiful time when autumn’s colors are at their peak, we thought we’d look over Kopischke’s shoulder and garner a few tips on how to shoot fall foliage. While professional photographers rely on an arsenal of equipment to garner their creativity, here are a few basic tips that can be helpful to anyone with a smart phone camera on a beautiful fall day.


#1) Play with the POV (Point-of-View).
The problem with a point-and-shoot camera or smart phone is you get overall average exposure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. Try lying on your back and shooting straight up at a tall stand of aspens. Not only will you get a cool angle, but the color of the yellow leaves will really stand out against the blue sky. Another interesting perspective is up close. Shoot straight down if you have a macro lens; the dewdrops on the leaves are amazing. You can also try using portrait mode on your iPhone: point on the leaf and get it to stay focused while everything else is out of focus for a shallower depth of field. The nice thing about digital is you can see the image right away, so try a little bit of everything and experiment.


#2) Invest in some basic equipment.
Even though you can do a lot with a smart phone these days, nothing can take the place of the creative control you have with a real camera. “Every camera has a manual setting, but most people tend to shoot in auto mode,” he says. To have the most control over the creative process, shoot in manual mode. “This is digital so you get instant playback. If your photo is a little dark or a little light, adjust your exposure either way.” Kopischke recommends using a semi-wide zoom lens (28-70 mm), which is good for everything from wide landscapes to extra close-up leaf portraits.


A polarizing filter is also key for shooting fall colors. “Simply rotating the filter intensifies saturation and removes glare from shiny surfaces making your reds and yellows pop while darkening the blue of the sky,” he says.

Last, but not least; invest in a tripod. It will give you the ability to shoot at a slower shutter speed for a blurred effect. “Should you find the perfect scene of colors and the leaves start falling, a tripod and a slow shutter can create a dreamy effect with the burly leaves dancing through your frame.”


#3) Look over the shoulder of a pro.
If you’re out on a beautiful fall day and happen to see a professional photographer out shooting, don’t be shy. “Most pros would typically be very friendly. If you see someone with big cameras and big tripods shooting fall colors, don’t be intimidated. Feel free to go up and ask them for some tips. We’re really a pretty friendly bunch.”


VISIT COREY KOPISCHKE’S WEBSITE for more information and to view a large sample of Corey’s incredible work, including adventure, architectural, landscape, lifestyle and travel photography.



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