Colorful Fall Trees at St John's University

Yes I know we're on the cusp of Spring here in central Minnesota. But after yet another snowfall (of varying amounts depending upon where in Minnesota you live) and/or slushy rain, I thought a nice splash of color of these colorful fall trees would brighten your inbox a bit. Plus, I'm giving you a little "how to" for some fun experimentation with your own camera!

Colorful Fall Imagery

red leaf on tree in fall
red leaf on tree in fall


I had just finished a family portrait session last fall, and on my way home, I decided to stop out at St. John's University for a little more photography. These were all taken right beside the main road entering the college near the Vincent Court Complex.


You might be wondering how I took the images of the trees that look painted. I slowed my shutter speed and intentionally panned the camera, and in this situation, vertically. One gets lots of junk when doing this (I wouldn't recommend this with film). But luckily with digital, you don't have to worry about a lot of bad photos. You will get something you like, just stay with it.

If you want to try this with your camera, the key is that you need to be able to control the shutter speed on your camera. Even most point and shoots allow you to do that by selecting Shutter Priority mode. (Read your camera manual to find out how to set yours.) Your settings will vary from mine, but on this overcast day, I was at 1/15th of a second at an aperture of f/19. I was using my zoom lens, one of the photos was at 155mm and the other at 70mm. A longer zoom is more sensitive to movement, making it easier to create the motion blur.

Impression of Fall

Impression of Fall

Now this is all totally trial and error. You have to look at the back of your camera to decide what adjustments you need to make in your camera and if you need to pan slower or faster. It all depends what kind of look you're going for. Experiment!! It's fun to intentionally make something blurry.

Let me know if you try this technique and how it worked for you!