How and Where to Take the Best Fall Photos in the U.S.
Autumn's gorgeous warm hues make it almost impossible not to whip out your phone in an effort to capture the colors changing around you. From the vibrant red and orange leaves to the crisp blue sky combined with the golden sunset at dusk, there is no doubt about it: Fall colors are gorgeous.
And it's in small towns across the U.S. where some of the best photographic works of art can be found. These communities, most of which are under 10,000 people, are near state and national parks with forests, rivers, valleys and waterfalls aplenty.
Here, we feature some of the best fall photos from these destinations as well as tips from professional photographers on how to take that perfect, Instagram-worthy shot of the ever-changing fall leaves.
This shot of foggy Lake Guntersville in the small town found southeast of Huntsville doesn't show the area's true value. After all, it's filled with parks! Buck Falls State Park, High Falls State Park and the state park in which this lake shares a name. There are so many places to capture fall in all its glory!
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Lake Guntersville State Park
Pro tip: "Use the rule of thirds and negative space to make the composition more intriguing," says Alexa Vincent, photo editor for Big Edition. "The rule of thirds is imagining your composition as a 3x3 grid."
Just northeast of Anchorage, @dstuppy captured these colorful cabins found in Independence Mine State Historical Park.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Bodenburg Butte with 360-degree views of Matanuska Valley
Pro tip: "Horizontal pictures give an impression of space, whereas vertical pictures give an impression of height," says camera maker Olympus. "In the same location, try taking not only horizontal pictures but vertical as well."
When you are in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, every day the sun shines into the canyons makes for a great photo moment. Found in Eastern Arizona's Navajo Nation, @explorethelightphotography captured this warm picture.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Pro tip: "Know the best times to shoot with natural light, play with depth of field and focus, and think about dynamic angles," says Vincent.
The mountains between Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Arkansas, provide a plethora of photogenic spots. @randi.and.co snapped this shot of a photographer snapping his own shot in White Rock Mountain Recreation Area.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Woods Gap, Ozark National Forest
Pro tip: "If using your phone, use filters that aren't only Instagram," says Vincent. "I'm pretty exclusively an Afterlight user, but VSCO is the biggest one, and so is Snapseed. These apps allow you more control over your photo."
Napa Valley in Northern California is renowned for its vineyards and wine, which are especially vibrant come fall. The vines will lose leaves, the California sun will shine, and you'll find good stills (between wine tastings).
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Amongst the many vineyards of the area
Pro tip: "This shot is taken from the ground, and the perspective is a stronger shot than if you were to take it while standing," says Dave Blass, production designer and photographer at daveblass.com or @dave_blass_photography. "The filter halos it and gives the eyes direction.
Deep within the White River National Forest, between Denver and Grand Junction near Rocky Mountain National Park, @rachelbrokawphotography caught a moment when the light filtered through the trees.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: White River National Forest, Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, and Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests
Pro tip: "I love how tall the trees seem when you're on your belly looking up," Brokaw says of getting on the ground for this shot.
Litchfield County in the northwest corner of Connecticut is just two hours from New York City and a mecca when it comes to fall foliage. @patrickdonegan's colorful shot was captured in picturesque Kent.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Macedonia Brook State Park Pond Mountain Natural Area
Pro tip: "Find contrasting or complementary colors together, especially in nature," says Vincent.
Pike Creek, Delaware
West of Wilmington near the Pennsylvania border, Pike Creek's colors created a unique effect for @clark_grizzy with the clouds in the sky.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Along Pine Creek
Pro tip: "Always have a camera with you, even if it is just your phone," says Zack Hanes, found as @the_wanderlust_lens or at thewanderlustlens.com. "I have a lot of photos that were just taken on my phone with an attachable lens on it."
The Florida Panhandle between Pensacola and Panama City is a seemingly endless stretch of dune-lined, powder-white sand beaches so fine that the ground squeaks beneath your feet when you walk. These "singing beaches" are why the Beaches of South Walton's small village near Destin are a popular retreat.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Anywhere along the beaches
Pro tip: It's all about color when it comes to fall photos. Even if you don't live in a warm-weather destination without the spectacular colors on leaves, you can set up a perfect fall shot with props, like @mermaidmanordestin did with a bright pumpkin on the white sand for contrast.
Pine Mountain, Georgia
Southwest of Atlanta is the small town where President Franklin Roosevelt went to soothe his aches in nearby hot springs. He also learned first-hand just how beautiful a Georgia fall can be.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Calloway Gardens and Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park
Pro tip: Wrenn Robin, known as @snap_quest on Instagram (IG), used a Nikon 5600 to capture this butterfly within Calloway Gardens' butterfly garden.
Ko Olina, Hawaii
Hawaii's tropical island location certainly doesn't warrant fall foliage, but that doesn't mean you can't find moments of autumn. Near Kapolei on the island of Oahu, local farms sell pumpkins for the season.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Waimanalo Country Farms and Aloun Farms bring the fall colors to the island
Pro tip: Says Vincent, "Filters allow you to control sharpness, contrast, color temperature and subtly enhance your photos."
Sometimes Mother Nature doesn't get her seasons right, as @sarasheehy discovered in this town east of Boise. Renowned for its skiing, the small town is a jumping-off point for slope lovers no matter the season.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Bald Mountain and Sun Valley Resort or the nearby Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
Pro tip: "The dusting of snow, while the leaves of autumn are still in full force, provides a perfect juxtaposition," says Blass.
Willow Springs, Illinois
Location: Outside of the skyscrapers and traffic of Chicago are small communities surrounded by trees, such as Willow Springs. The sleepy commuter community is transformed by fall.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve
Pro tip: "I tend to shoot forest/woodland photography, so it is full of chaos," says Eric P. Rusnak, @ericrusnack. "I think [nature photography] is something I'm always trying to figure out. So, exploring new photography techniques is something I think everyone should always be doing."
Bean Blossom, Indiana
There is something magical about covered bridges during the fall. (Although, at night, they may become more like "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" eerie!) In Bean Blossom, south of Indianapolis, the bridge's red color blends right into its surroundings.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Nearby Morgan Monroe State Forest, Yellowwood State Forest and Brown County State Park
Pro tip: Camera-maker Sony USA advises: "Capturing the autumn foliage just as you see it requires not only the right direction of light, but also adjustment of brightness and color using the camera settings. While the camera automatically calculates the appropriate brightness and color, the results may not match the image you're aiming to capture or the impression that you feel. If you're having difficulty capturing what you see, try adjusting the exposure compensation and white balance."
Ledges State Park's boardwalk is flanked by red, yellow and orange leaves. The small communities north of big-city Des Moines provide a colorful reprieve in Iowa — which is not all cornfields!
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Edgewood Park and Ledges State Park
Pro tip: Camera-maker Canon offers advice on shooting fall foliage and says: "Get low and shoot a path or roadway in a wider angle to exaggerate the perspective."
Cottonwood Falls, Kansas
Kansas' prairies may not be tree-filled, but the golden hues of Indian summers and fall are abundant in the wide-open spaces of Cottonwood's Tallgrass Prairie and Flint Hills, which features a National Scenic Byway to take in the views.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Nearby Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Chase State Lake or Swope Park
Pro tip: "Have a good polarizing and neutral density filter," says Hanes. "A polarizing filter can boost colors in the sky."
One of the oldest cities in Kentucky, Harrodsburg is found in the heart of Bluegrass Country, southwest of Lexington. The historic town boasts Old Fort Harrod State Park, where a full-scale replica of the 1774 fort stands with live enactors telling the story of the town's beginnings.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Old Fort Harrod State Park
Pro tip: "It may sound counter-intuitive, but you want the sun behind your subject, not in front of them. Backlighting is what gives the beautiful glow to a photo," says Blass. "Also, most iPhones have an HDR (high dynamic range) option that will allow you to get the most depth to the colors adding light to the darks and blending all of the tones."
St. Francisville, Louisiana
The joke may be that fall in Louisiana is still hot and humid, but where else will you find bayous of golden light for your autumn collection? Northwest of Baton Rouge is the plantation town of St. Francisville, where you can explore the 1835 Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site and dine at the 18th-century Myrtles Plantation.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge
Pro tip: "Streams, creeks, ponds and rivers can become magical in the fall," says camera-maker Nikon. "When the leaves are turning, the spot you'd just pass by at any other time of the year becomes a great photo location, as water gives you reflections, contrast and, with long exposures, texture."
New England's falls are stunners, no matter which state you're in. The owners of Maple Moon Farm, found in Lebanon, stopped in their tracks one mid-October morning to snap the golden glow that highlighted the fading colors. The small rural town can be found along the border of New Hampshire and southwest Maine.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: West Lebanon Historic District, Grist Mill Bridge, Northeast Pond and Salmon Falls River
Pro tip: "Get up early and stay out late. Good lighting can make all the difference in photography," says Rebekah Childers, @rebekahcphotos. "During the golden hour — the hour after sunrise and hour before sunset — the light is softer, and your images will reflect this. Plus, wildlife is more active in the cool hours of the morning and evening."
Central Maryland often gets overlooked by visitors heading to Baltimore or the Chesapeake Bay, but the suburbs of Baltimore's Anne Arundel County sparkle during the fall season. The area's wine trail includes Wine in the Woods, Olney Winery, Maryland Homebrew and more so you can sip as you seek color.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Nearby T. Howard Duckett Watershed, Paxtuxent River and Patuxent Research Refuge
Pro tip: "Play around with cropping and perspective," according to camera-maker Canon. "A longer focal length lets you zoom in on specific details within a landscape scene, like a cluster of birch trees or a single golden leaf on an old tree stump."
This island off of Cape Cod gets filled with visitors during the summer months, but those in the know take the ferry over during the fall to see the quaint brick-lined streets decorated with harvest-season goodies for a picturebook setting.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Nantuckettown, the island's lighthouses and beaches, and Nantucket State Forest
Pro tip: "The biggest tip I can give when traveling somewhere is to talk to people," says Chris Durand, @cdurandphoto. "Make new connections along the way. They will tell you about the best places to see in the area you may not even know about."
South Haven, Michigan
Another beach town found in Western Michigan doesn't disappoint just because the temperatures drop. South Haven's old-fashioned charm coupled with Lake Michigan's majestic vistas will afford many picture-perfect moments.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: The beaches lining Lake Michigan, Black River and Van Buren State Park
Pro tip: "Use Av (Aperture-priority) mode on your camera, or select a wider aperture, around f/2.8 or f/5.6, to isolate your subject from its surroundings," according to Canon. "The wider aperture will soften or compress the background so that your still-life subject stands out."
Less than a half an hour from Minneapolis, Jordan is home to waterfalls and parks (14 city parks and more than 24 trails!) but also is a quaint town just ripe for dining and shopping. As the town touts, it's "a small town with a big community."
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Lagoon Park and Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area
Pro tip: "Use depth of field, where you focus on a closeup image and blur a lot of the background out," says Vincent.
Another small town about a half-hour from a major city (Memphis), Coldwater rests along the river that shares its name. It's a tiny town, no doubt, but that means there is charm to be found in spades during the fall.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Arkabulta Lake
Pro tip: "Autumn is full of fun events and activities that need to be captured," says Canon. "Halloween, Thanksgiving, apple picking, pumpkin carving and even raking leaves can become a photo op when the foliage colors change."
One of the most popular places to visit in Missouri is Branson, found within the Ozarks. You can avoid the crowds, though, in the unincorporated town of Lampe, less than 14 miles away. Here, Top of the Rock bluff overlooks the mountains.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Table Rock Lake and Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
Pro tip: Durand used a Nikon Z6 with long exposure during his vacation to Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. He says about his travel gear, "You don't need every last piece of gear; you will want to pack light. I can't tell you how many times I've wished that I had brought fewer lenses or equipment. It ends up getting too heavy and takes away from the experience."
With its mountainous Rockies backdrop, Whitefish is an adorable resort town that serves as a gateway to Glacier National Park. Skiing here is fantastic, but you'll want to visit before the snow falls to catch the golden light bouncing off the mountain peaks during the fall.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Glacier National Park and Whitefish Lake State Park
Pro tip: "Autumn sunsets rule ... and so do the sunrises," says Peter Baumgarten for Olympus. "The shorter days and more unsettled weather help to create the perfect conditions for impressive sunrises and sunsets."
Outside of Omaha, Oakland has been named one of the best places to live in the country and is home to the Swedish Heritage Center, honoring its foundation. Follow along Troll Stroll Nature Walk if you want to spot — you guessed it — trolls in your foliage.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Oakland City Park and the Swedish Heritage Center
Pro tip: Fall photography can be staged and still look like a work of art. @jodiguill went on a hunt for wild American Bittersweet, which bears orange-red seeds come fall. Then, she snapped a photo with her find.
Considered a pitstop town between Oregon and Idaho, this northern Nevada town is said to be the "friendliest town in Nevada." Sure, it has gambling like the glitzy big city, but the rural location is home to Basque culture, as many immigrants from the Pyrenees Mountains settled here in the mid-1800s. You can enjoy Basque dining and even a festival honoring this history.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Sonoma or Adam Peaks
Pro tip: "Focus on the details," says Childers. "Get that wide-angle shot of a stand of aspen, but also use a wide aperture to single out a single golden leaf with the blur of the stand in the background."
Pittsfield, New Hampshire
Said to be the country's best fall foliage scenic route, the Kancamagus Highway travel from Conway to Lincoln, New Hampshire, is a 34.5-mile drive that will leave you awestruck. One of the towns along the route is Pittsfield, considered one of the best places to live in the state. If it's good enough to want to live there, it's good enough to visit.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Kancamagus Highway, Catamount Mountain and Bear Brook State Park
Pro tip: "By using a circular-type polarizing filter, or PL filter, you can eliminate the stray light reflected off the leaves and bring out the brilliant original colors of the foliage," says Olympus.
Allentown, New Jersey
Central New Jersey is nothing like the crazed metro-New York area towns. This is the Garden State, and you can bet Jersey got that name from its boroughs. Monmouth County is considered one of the prettiest counties, where just outside of Trenton is Allentown and its picturesque Millpond in the heart of town.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Conines Millpond, Doctor's Creek and Assunpink Wildlife Management Area
Pro tip: "Time of the day can have a drastic impact on the vibrancy of autumn colors, depending on the direction of light and the brightness of the day," according to Canon.
Taos, New Mexico
Surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and filled with a rich Pueblo culture and history, Taos is unlike any town featured on this list. An artisan community is on full display within the town, and you'll find nature's art at work in its hills.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Cuchillo de Fernando, Cerro Vista, Taos Ski Valley
Pro tip: "Fall weather can certainly be unpredictable, but if you only wait for the beautiful sunny days to go shooting, you are definitely missing out," says Baumgarten. "Stormy weather can also make for a great subject."
Seneca Falls, New York
New York's Finger Lakes, found between Syracuse and Rochester, are notoriously beautiful when fall foliage appears not long after the summer boaters and vacationists. In the heart of this lake district is Seneca Falls, found at the north of Cayuga Lake, which is not only stunning but also considered to be the birthplace of American feminism. This is where the Declaration of Sentiments was drafted, calling for women's equality and suffrage.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Seneca Falls, Van Cleef Lake, Cayuga Lake State Park and Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
Pro tip: "Great photographs need a compelling subject. By choosing a focal point — a branch full of glowing red maple leaves or yellow leaves on a weathered picnic table — you’ll boost the visual interest in your images," advises Canon.
Danbury, North Carolina
It may take you an hour to reach the top of Hanging Rock State Park, where you'll find autumn views like these — but you, too, will feel it was worth every step. Seventeen moderate trails range from 705 to 2,575 feet.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Hanging Rock State Park
Pro tip: "Change your perspective by getting low (you can often find me laying on the ground) to get eye-level with an animal, to get a unique view or to capture a sunrise reflected on the water," says Childers of capturing nature.
Medora, North Dakota
Who needs fall foliage in the Badlands of North Dakota when a storm comes raging during sunset? Medora is the place to be when wanting to visit the national parks and land beloved by the president who helped introduce our nation to a national park system, Theodore Roosevelt.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Little Missouri National Grassland and Little Missouri River
Pro tip: "When photographing outdoor scenes with a combination of warm and cool colors, try using a polarizing filter on your lens," recommends Canon. "A polarizing lens filter can reduce reflections from water, darken skies and enhance cloud contrast, all of which will balance colors and make the whole scene more vivid."
Canal Winchester, Ohio
Outside of Columbus, another bedroom community awaits, filled with numerous parks. This town doesn't feel like a suburb of a major U.S. city with its sparse land filled with trails, such as this one in Slate Run.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Walnut Woods or Pickerington Ponds Metro Parks
Pro tip: "Weather plays a major role in the timing and intensity of autumn colors in any given year, so regularly check the foliage forecast in the area, and consult with local residents for the best routes and times to plan your drive in the country," Canon points out.
If you thought Oklahoma was dry and dusty farmland, you may not know about this area in the eastern part of the state. It is here that the Talimena Scenic Drive awaits: 54 miles around Rich and Winding Stair Mountains in a heavily forested — and popular — spot.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Ouachita National Forest and Wilhelmina State Park
Pro tip: "Front light hits the front of the subject as seen from the camera. With front light, you can shoot colorful images that appear as natural as the way you see the scene," says Sony USA. "However, because there are no shadows, the light tends to create an ordinary image that lacks depth. Side light hits the subject from the side. Shooting with side light brings out the shadows in trees to lend depth to a landscape. Backlight hits the subject from the back. When backlight shines through leaves, it brings out their translucency and rich colors, so they look like they are sparkling in photographs. "
Mount Hood, Oregon
Gateway towns surrounding 11,250-foot Mount Hood serve as Oregon Trail hiking pitstops and snow-filled skiing villages. More than 10,000 try to climb the mountain every year, but you don't need to reach the top to enjoy autumn's pinnacle.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Mount Hood National Forest and Hood River
Pro tip: "The most important thing about getting good nature photos is the lighting and the time of day you shoot. Early mornings and late afternoon give you the best opportunity for success," says Blass.
Northeast of Philadelphia is horse country, where farms stretch along hills flanked by lakeside forests. Historic stone buildings and inns in Bucks County are charming throughout the year but are never prettier than when the fences are lined with orange pumpkins and scarecrows (particularly at Peddlers' Village Scarecrow Festival), adding to the seasonal aura.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: High Rocks State Park, Tohickon Valley Park, Peace Valley Park, and Nockamixon State Park and Lake
Pro tip: "Autumn is all about the colors, so switch to the Vivid picture mode and really make them pop," says Baumgarten.
Greenville, Rhode Island
The Ocean State may be more recognized for its ocean-water sailing shots, but come fall, head north of Providence to its intimate wooded communities that create pictures right out of New England storybooks. The colors, farms and fall festivals are exactly what you are looking for.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Lincoln Woods, Blackstone River State Park and Lime Rock Preserve
Pro tip: "Not all things need be, or should be, photographed in bright sun," reminds Nikon. "Autumn colors are saturated colors, and they contrast nicely with a gray day. While a bit of gray sky is OK in your photo, remember to avoid expanses of uninteresting white sky."
Landrum, South Carolina
This magical shot by @tom.moors was taken at Poinsett Bridge near the North Carolina border. The small town is nestled right into the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers a number of scenic drives.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve and Brookwood Park
Pro tip: Adds Childers, "Research before you go. What time is sunrise and sunset? What will the moon phase be for astrophotography? What wildlife is in the area, and what are their habits? Putting in the time before you travel will allow you to scope out spots and prepare for fantastic shots."
Hill City, South Dakota
As the town that caters to those visiting South Dakota to visit Mt. Rushmore and national and state parks, Hill City is your home away from home while exploring the Black Hills.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Black Hills National Forest and Custer State Park
Pro tip: "Shooting autumn foliage is not just about capturing trees and leaves as your subjects. Incorporating mountain streams, lakes and other surrounding scenery can make autumn foliage look more attractive," says Sony USA.
Eastern Tennessee's stretch of the Blue Ridge Mountains is one of the most popular places to be in the south during the fall. While Pigeon Forge may have more people and attractions, intimate Gatlinburg enjoys the same glory of being surrounded by trees of color and trails heading deep into the Smokies.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Pro tip: "Typically the golden hour light is very soft and ethereal," says Vincent. "Since the sun isn't fully in the sky during golden hours, there are a lot of opportunities in nature photography to play with lighting placement, like light coming through the trees."
On the border of Arkansas and Mississippi, east of Dallas, city dwellers flock to Daingerfield State Park to see its forest full of trees turning colors. Within the park is a "Cathedral of Trees," and the small town aims to provide you with a place to lay your head should you choose to skip the camping offered within.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Daingerfield State Park and Lake and Lake O' the Pines
Pro tip: "When you encounter beautiful scenery, there is a tendency to try to fit everything you can see into the image. Have you ever shot an image but were not able to capture the feeling at all? This is because you end up capturing unnecessary and unexpected elements in the photo that create a distraction. Instead of simply pointing the camera aimlessly at a wide area, try to find the most impressive part of the scenery and bring it out with a telephoto setting," according to Sony USA.
Escalante and Boulder are two towns in Utah linked by a scenic drive along Route 12. This drive, which passes trails leading to Upper and Lower Calf Creek Falls and crosses the Escalante River has been called one of the most scenic drives in the country.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Escalante Petrified Forest State Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Pro tip: Says Vincent, "Wide depth of field is good for nature and landscape shots because you capture the sharpness of more objects further away."
Is there any town in Vermont that wouldn't be picture-perfect come fall? The state is known across the country for its colors across its forests, especially here in Upper Vermont near the New York border.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Hudson River Valley, Bread Loaf Mountain and Mount Wilson
Pro tip: "There are typical types of photographic composition, such as the rule of thirds composition and the diagonal composition. However, if you are overly conscious of those types of composition, your photographs will lose personality and become uninteresting. Keep them only as a reference for when you are at a loss in regard to composition. Instead, find your own favorite composition or expression, especially when you are casually going out or walking around," recommends Sony USA. "Take photographs that you like; that's the essence of making your own works of art.
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia is the ancestral home of the nation's first First Lady, Martha Washington. Its 20-block Historic District is lined with buildings dating back to pre-Civil War days.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Cherokee National Forest and the Virginia Creeper Trail
Pro tip: Canon advises, "Sunny days crank up the brightness and contrast, casting lots of deep shadows in wooded areas. If you’re taking photographs within a park or forest, use the shadows and backlit leaves for dramatic effect in your images."
Just outside of Seattle is a mountain made for the city folk who want to enjoy Washington's woodlands. The area is a hiking and ski destination filled with farms, like Rockwood Farm captured in this picture just as the rain broke and the clouds began to dissipate.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Three Forks Natural Area, Snoqualmie Ridge, Snoqualmie Falls and Rattlesnake Mountain Scenic Area
Pro tip: "Fog and mist can soften and mute colors, but they add mood, atmosphere, even mystery," says Nikon.
Clifftop, West Virginia
Southeast of Charleston, deep in the Appalachian mountains, is the unincorporated community that values its natural surroundings. One of the most photographed areas is the Glade Creek Grist Mill, just one of more than 500 mills that were scattered about West Virginia.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Babcock State Park
Pro tip: "For editing a photo, my favorite 'on the fly' editing app is Snapseed, available on iPhone," says Blass.
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Another early snowfall coupled with the vibrant orange leaves of autumn created this perfect shot of The Osthoff Resort, found on Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin. The weekend and summer destination can be found between Fond du Lac and Sheboygan.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Elkhart Lake, La Budde Creek State Wildlife Area and Sheboygan Marsh State Wildlife Area
Pro tip: "Pull out the telephoto. If you have a telephoto lens, you probably primarily use it to zoom in on the action (hello, bears!). But try using it for landscapes or small details," says Childers. "A telephoto will change perspective, bringing a distant scene closer and highlighting smaller details within a landscape."
You'd be hard-pressed to find a better small town in which to spend your time fall, winter, spring or summer than Jackson. It's found between the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone national parks and is home to the largest elk wildlife refuges in the country. This is a nature-lovers paradise with a charming town of boutiques and restaurants to boot.
Best Place to Shoot a Pic: Grand Tetons National Park, Jackson Town Square, Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park
Pro tip: "Finding a focus is key," says Rusnak. "Something that draws your eye and makes the clutter disappear. This can be an interesting subject or even just the way the light is hitting."