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Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in our September 2017 issue. This version was fact-checked and updated (where possible) with current information for the 2018 edition of 5280 Traveler.
Picture this: a purple Rocky Mountain sunset, a vibrant yellow forest, a moose drinking from a blue river. All make for the perfect fall color photo, but you’re likely missing it because you can’t get the right lens out of your pack fast enough. Not anymore. These Colorado gear companies’ easy-access camera bags help you get the shot, fumble-free, while also winning major points for comfort and design—because when you’re surrounded by all that natural beauty, your gear needs to look good too.
Osprey Ultralight Camera Case Extra Large
Features: Padded main compartment, neck/shoulder strap
Best For: Keeping your SLR handy while you explore the Maroon Bells–Snowmass Wilderness
Topo Designs Camera Cube
Features: Padded side walls and base, cinch top closure, adjustable internal dividers
Best For: Overlook shots in Rocky Mountain National Park
Mountainsmith T.a.n. Kit Cube Large
Features: Water-resistant exterior, color-coded pockets for new and used memory cards
Best For: Dayhiking Kenosha Pass with every lens you own
Three tips for crafting a fall foliage masterpiece from 5280 contributing photographer Jason Hatfield.
Tip 1: Avoid The Icons
Avoid The Icons: Off the most popular trails, you’re less likely to encounter other photographers for sunrise or sunset shots (the most dramatic lighting conditions). If you can’t make it far on foot, drive to lonelier fall spots like the Flat Tops Wilderness or scenic State Highway 17 between Antonito and Chama.
Tip 2: Chase The Weather
When a snowstorm is approaching, check weather.gov for announcements with details like what time the storm may break and the elevation of the snow line (like treeline, but with the white stuff). Capturing snowcapped peaks and dusted golden aspens in the same shot can create powerful fall imagery.
Tip 3: Find A Strong Foreground
The most compelling landscape shots bring viewers in with striking elements up front. When framing your photo, get low and include eye-catching rocks, wildflowers, or autumn-colored undergrowth. You can also look for human elements like roads or cabins.