One of the tricks to photographing spectacular fall color, is knowing where and when to go. Living in the U.S. Midwest, areas of peak fall color differ greatly within each region. For instance, peak fall color along the shores of the Great Lakes often lag a few weeks from peak color just 20 miles inland from any point. Factors such as altitude and shorelines have a big impact on timing. The type of vegetation also has an impact.
Often, I make a trek to Northern Michigan during the last week of September through the first week of October. From experience and trial and error spreading thousands of miles over the years, I have learned that the eastern half of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (also called “the UP”) was heavily logged over the years and replanted with pine tree’s, wasn’t a good choice to look for color. Lets face it, pine tree’s look the same in all four seasons, green!
The place to go in my neck of the woods for fall color in the U.P. is the western half, where plenty of hardwoods abound, and that means some blazing color. That area peaks the last week of September, while the eastern half of the peninsula peaks one to two weeks later. Lower latitudes within the state can peak 2 to 3 weeks later. Michigan isn’t any different than any other northern state or Canadian provinces. Timing depends on geography.
Your window for fall color shooting in your area is probably only a few weeks a year. Additionally, you don’t have to travel far. You can get some great fall color shots within a mile of your home if you look hard enough, maybe even as close as your own backyard.