Fall Colours & True Colours.

Kellie Davenport August 28, 2020
Stylized image graphic showing map of southern Manitoba with red pins highlighting locations of interest, with canoeist, hiker and woodpecker.

Map of park locations in Manitoba.

With lush forests and pristine parks, Manitoba was made for leaf peeping. From September to October, foliage throughout the province turns every shade, from crimson to copper to lemony yellow. Before heading out on a drive, check local colour reports to ensure optimal viewing.

Tree spotting.


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1 Whiteshell.

Covering nearly 2,800 square kilometres, Whiteshell Provincial Park is designed for fall driving. Meander along a park road in early October to observe painterly scenes of Kelly green and marigold. For hiking, the nine-km Pine Point Rapids Trail offers stunning views of the boreal forest.

 

2 Birds Hill.

Northeast of Winnipeg, the glacier-formed ridges of Birds Hill Provincial Park are lined with deep-gold aspens. You'll also spot the yellow flowers of goldenrods. Keep your eyes peeled for resident bird species, including pileated woodpeckers, ruffed grouse and red-tailed hawks.

 

3 Neepawa.

Originally called "Beautiful Plains," Neepawa lives up to the moniker with swaths of Aspen parkland near town. For a side of literary history with your leaf peeping, swing by the Margaret Laurence Home, former residence of the legendary novelist and Neepawa native.

 

4 Nopiming.

Known as the "entrance to the wilderness" in Anishinaabe, Nopiming Provincial Park is dotted with crystal-clear lakes and thick forest. Black spruce, birch and poplar make ideal photo subjects, especially when captured from the calm water aboard a canoe.

 

Image showing tree with yellow leaves in foreground and urban building in background.

Trees during autumn in a Winnipeg neighbourhood.
Michael Pratt

True colours.

"Fall colours come and go very quickly, so timing is everything," says Michael Pratt. Though he started with street photography, Pratt was naturally drawn to landscapes, particularly in autumn. Here, the Winnipeg photographer and graphic designer shares some of his top tips for photographing foliage.

 

Why are fall colours so compelling?

They are something anyone can photograph and people are naturally attracted to bold colours. I've heard it said that if you see something red, photograph it! Vibrant shades are eye-catching, so it’s easy to capture something interesting.

Where are some of your favourite shooting spots?

Since I live and work in the city, I often search out fall colours right here in Winnipeg (5). Autumn hues offset by urban architecture can be quite interesting. When I visit family in the Swan Valley (6) region, I like to walk along the river for a solo photo adventure.

When's the best time to go?

I think any time of the day can generate nice images. I try to shoot with the sun behind me to maintain a consistent exposure. That said, any light can be good light; provided your settings are dialed in for your shooting conditions.

What about angles and image composition?

Wide shots give a nice sense of scale. But I tend to shoot close crops and minimalist compositions. Use a tree trunk or some branches to evoke a sense of movement. I also like the simplicity of shooting an isolated subject against a clean background with shallow depth of field. Don't be afraid to dabble with different compositions. Be less concerned about following specific rules; spend more time experimenting with framing, balance, symmetry and even double exposures.


Grow your own.

Add a splash of colour to your yard with transformative trees and bushes.

 

Paper Birch.

Native to Manitoba, the tree is best known for its peeling white bark. Come fall, the leaves turn a bold gold colour to brighten up the backyard.

Saskatoon Bush.

Famous for its delicious berries, the shrub blooms in spring with delicate white flowers and changes to stunning yellow, orange and red foliage every autumn.

Pin Oak.

This towering tree grows up to 22 metres. But what makes it really stand out is its leaves—they turn a coppery red and typically cling to the tree all winter long.

Spirea

A true all-season plant, the bush pops in summer with clusters of colourful flowers and foliage that turns deep red during fall months.