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Wagon rides at Billings Farm during fall foliage

From The Blog A photographer's guide to perfecting your fall foliage snaps

Take your best shot of the season

with help from Vermont artist and photographer, Judy Laliberte.

Q: What are of your must-snap locales in and around Woodstock?

A: That’s a tough one. I would the Woodstock Inn, Billing’s Farm in Woodstock, The Woodstock Middle Bridge, the view from the Quechee Covered Bridge in Quechee. I also like to cruise the back roads of Vermont where you are sure to find beautiful old barns, fields of horses, cows and lovely landscapes.


Q: What’s your preferred window of time to catch peak colors of fall foliage?

A: I like to shoot in the morning or later afternoon to avoid the harsh shadows of mid-day especially during foliage when the colors are so bright.

Q: Speaking of timing, what are some essential strategies for capturing and harnessing that golden hour glow?

A: Plan ahead and know exactly when golden hour will be, get there early and set up. It is most helpful to use a tripod because you are shooting in less light. Keep shooting as the light changes fast and dramatically during golden hour and you will get a variety of changing lighting effects in your photos. I also set my white balance to shade or cloudy so I retain the golden light.

The golden hour: Roughly the first hour of light after sunrise, and the last hour of light before sunset... During these times the sun is low in the sky, producing a soft, diffused light which is much more flattering than the harsh midday sun.
Elm Street fall foliage
Judy Laliberte
Take a stroll through Woodstock Village to find photo-ops galore

Q: Are there any seasonal challenges of photographing in autumn – and if so, how do you navigate them?

A: The colors of autumn are so bright and vibrant that the sun can cause harsh shadows that dull those colors considerably. I use a polarizing filter which helps – and it also helps to change the angle you are shooting at. It’s a lot easier to shoot in the morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky.

Q: In a paragraph or less, how would you sum up a crash-course in composition?

A: The things I think about when composing a photo are; the framing of my subject, filling the frame, the rule of thirds, keeping it simple, and keeping the horizons straight. I usually experiment with cropping just to see what other options I may have even though I may not crop. The last thing to think about is breaking the rules. Some photos may lend themselves to breaking the rules.

The rule of thirds: mentally dividing up your image using 2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines. You then position the important elements in your scene along those lines, or at the points where they meet.
Simon Pearce during fall foliage
Judy Laliberte
Enjoy the autumnal view at Simon Pearce

Q: From angle to shape to color and beyond – how do you experiment with your shots?

A: I think of all the angles. I may take a shot lying down, from above or through something, the trees, a window, a sheer curtain or even a spider web. Reflections are fun and the subject matter can be limitless. I like zooming in on a subject to capture a specific area, a horse’s eye, the texture of a barn door, or a bee on a flower. I love to experiment with black-and-white, especially with portraits.

Wagon rides at Billings Farm during fall foliage
Judy Laliberte
Billings Farm offers plenty of photo-worthy perspectives

Q: What are some of your favorite editing programs and apps?

A: Photoshop Elements, Topaz Studio and Nik for black and white.

Quechee foliage
Judy Laliberte
Foliage with a view

Q: Can you share some tips for capturing crisp, high-contrast photos on a camera phone?

A: I have the iPhone XS and it takes great photos. I don’t have any tips but I could probably use some. I mostly just think about composition when using my iPhone. I use my DSLR when going out to shoot but love the handiness and ease of my iPhone when I don’t have my camera with me. I know there are photographers who only use their phone and take amazing photos.

Q: And for those beginner photographers out there with solid equipment, what advice would you give them?

A: I am still learning but my advice for beginner photographers would be learn your camera first. Do get yourself a tripod and get used to using it. Keep your camera with you as much as you can. Shoot, shoot, and then shoot some more. Try different shots, portraits, landscapes, flowers, macro, etc. etc. Take a class or take advantage of all the free resources online. Consider joining a camera club which can be another leaning experience and can also be very motivating.

Q: Who are some of your favorite local Vermont photographers worth following on Instagram?

A: There are so many great photographers on Instagram. Some of my favorite local Vermont photographers are @sallycooperphotography, and @samtrombinophotography.

Judy Laliberte's Artist Statement

Judy Laliberte is a painter and photographer living in Quechee, VT. She has been painting for 20 years. Her passion for photography started about 10 years ago when her husband gave her a DLSR camera for Christmas. She has been obsessed with taking photos ever since.

“I think my painting has helped me with my photography as a lot of the same rules apply. It has especially helped me with composition.”

"I feel so lucky to live in New England and especially in Vermont with it’s beautiful changing seasons, wonderful old barns, farms, lovely lakes, rivers, streams, festivals, fairs, farmer’s markets and interesting people young and old. I am never without my camera and I love to share my photos. Photography is all about seeing and I love to show you my eye’s view. I hope you enjoy my photos as much as I enjoyed taking them."

Memberships: Quechee Area Camera Club, CopleySociety of Art, Boston, MA - Copley Artist, Cambridge Art Association, Cambridge, MA - Artist Member, Vermont Watercolor Society - Signature Member, AVA Gallery, Lebanon, NH - Artist Member