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Fall is my favorite season for so many reasons. As a mother of three little boys, I thoroughly enjoy the excitement around picking out costumes for trick-or-treating. Every year my children get their use out of their costumes by wearing them all month long. As a photographer, I love all the gorgeous colors the season brings along with the shorter days and early golden hour. There’s of course challenges too like working with low light more frequently because of the shorter days. I’ve provided some tips and tricks on how to get the most out of documenting the fall season.

Shorter Days and An Early Golden Hour:

There’s a reason golden hour is a favorite among photographers. The light tends to be beautifully soft, warm and directional. Typically golden hour happens the last hour of daylight. However it can happen even earlier depending on your environment and surroundings. For example the sun sets much quicker behind mountains and treelines. You can track the best time for golden hour by you with apps like: LightTrac, Sun Surveyor, The Photographer’s Ephemeris and Magic Hour.

© Meg Loeks | 2017 Golden hour at the pumpkin patch. Gear: Canon 70D, Sigma 30mm. Settings: 1/320, f/1.8, ISO 160

In the summer it’s challenging to photograph little ones during golden hour because it’s so late in the day. The wonderful thing about fall is that golden hour happens much earlier. To capture backlight, shoot into the light and consider placing the sun at the edge of your frame. This technique is often one way of capturing flare and haze.

© Meg Loeks | 2017 Archie picking out the biggest pumpkin he could find. This image was taken during golden hour and the sun was setting behind him and filtering through some trees. I placed the sun at the very edge of the frame to capture sun flare. Slight adjustments in my angle make all the difference. Gear: Canon 70D, Sigma 30mm. Settings: 1/320, f/1.8, ISO 125

Trick-or-Treating and The Benefits of a Zoom Lens:

One of my favorite things to document every fall is trick-or-treating. It’s a great way to mark children’s growth through the years. The environment changes often and I frequently find myself in tight spaces and trying to dodge strangers and crowds while photographing my children in the moment. For these situations I choose a Sigma 18-300mm zoom lens paired with a Canon 70D. This lens is specifically designed for the most widely used crop-sensor cameras including the Canon Rebel series, and Nikon’s DX format cameras. A zoom lens with this much flexibility in focal length gives me tons of versatility. I can zoom in tight and eliminate a lot of distractions within my frame. Or I can zoom wide to capture more of the environment for better storytelling.

© Meg Loeks | 2017 My son Archie dressed as a llama for Halloween looking across the lake in our backyard. I noticed the reflection from the sunset on the water so I decided to shoot wide at 18mm and stand above my son to better capture it. Gear: Canon 70D, Sigma 18-300mm. Settings: 1/125, f/3.5, ISO 160

© Meg Loeks | 2017 My boys trick-or-treating around town in dappled light. I noticed the way the light was filtering through the trees behind me onto the building. The sun was at my back. I shot this image wide at 18mm to capture more of the building and for better sense of scale making my children look small. Gear: Canon 70D, Sigma 18-300mm. Settings: 1/2000, f/3.5, ISO 100

Working With Low Light and Prime Lenses

The days are shorter in the fall and I often find myself having to work in low light situations. For these scenarios I pair my 70D with a 30mm f/1.4 Sigma Art lens which is great for working in this type of light because of its wide aperture at speedy shutter speeds. It’s fast and can quickly grab focus in tough situations. Not only that, it’s sharp even in low light when I have to bump up my ISO. Consider placing your subject as close as you can to your light source when working in this type of light. The more contrast the easier it will be for your camera to grab focus.

© Meg Loeks | 2017 My son Woodrow at the pumpkin patch picking out the perfect pumpkin. Gear: Canon 70D, Sigma 30mm. Settings: 1/250, f/1.8, ISO 125

© Meg Loeks | 2017 My boys climbing over the pumpkins at a nearby pumpkin patch. My boys were excited and moving quickly. It was important that I maintain a fast shutter speed to ensure there was no motion blur. When my children are moving I typically have my shutter speed no slower than 1/320. Gear: Canon 70D, Sigma 30mm. Settings: 1/320, f/1.8, ISO 160

The Benefits of Using a 30mm Focal Length Lens Over Others:

One of the things I love about the 30mm is that it’s a wonderful lens to use for detail shots, especially indoors when you are working with low light. I’m able to get in close and quickly capture those details that are so fleeting and important to document. It’s important to know that the 30mm on a crop sensor camera like the Canon 70D operates more like a 50mm. The lens is small and easily portable… bonus as a mother on the go! I love to shoot wide open or close to it, but when capturing detail images I often close down my aperture more so that all those little details are in focus. Remember the closer you are to your subject the more narrow your focal plane will be.

© Meg Loeks | 2017 Autumn collections found by my boys. When shooting indoors and in low light don’t be afraid to push your ISO up. I often have my ISO anywhere from 1250 to 1600 indoors. I was able to keep my ISO low here because I set our table right next to a window for stronger light. Gear: Canon 70D, Sigma 30mm. Settings: 1/250, f/2, ISO 400

© Meg Loeks | 2017 Archie treating himself to chocolate. One of the benefits of a lens like the 30mm is I don’t have to stand too far away from my subject like I would with a telephoto lens. I’m able to quickly capture moments because I don’t have to back up. Gear: Canon 70D, Sigma 30mm. Settings: 1/800, f/2, ISO 100

Creating That Beautiful Bokeh

One of the beautiful things about bokeh (the out of focus area within an image) is that it’s not only visually appealing but it can help separate your subject from the background. With a wide aperture lens like the 30mm f/1.4 I’m able to shoot with a large aperture along for pretty bokeh and compression.

© Meg Loeks | 2017 Archie looking down a gated driveway in his Halloween costume. I chose to shoot close to wide open at 1.6 for better compression to help separate my son from the background. Gear: Canon 70D, Sigma 30mm. Settings: 1/320, f/1.6, ISO 320

About Meg Loeks

Meg lives remotely in Northern Michigan with her husband and three boys. She shares glimpses of her life on her personal Instagram account: @meg_nlo. Outside of photography, Meg loves spending time outdoors, and ventures outside with her children whenever possible. She finds it both comforting and soothing to watch her children explore. Meg enjoys each of the seasons Michigan has to offer, especially fall and winter. She loves to snowboard, snowshoe, hike, bake and read.

Meg’s photography journey started when she was young with film. She made the switch to digital when she started having children. She became a Clickin Moms member in early 2014 and has been learning and growing with the influential community since. In 2015 she became a CMPro and in 2016 joined the CM team as a mentor. In the winter of 2016 Meg released her eBook, The Sincere Storyteller. Since she also teaches the workshop: Finding the Classic Beauty In Your Everyday with Click Photo School. Meg is drawn to low light, fine art, and environmental portraiture and color. Meg is also a Sigma Ambassador.


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  1. Wow I love the pumpkin patch photos. I really want to try the Sigma 30mm lenses