A Photographer’s Tips for Capturing Fall Color
Written By Amy Dangelico
In Our Gardens
Asheville photographer Sandra Stambaugh has captured images of Biltmore’s stunning gardens and landscapes for more than 20 years. We asked her to share some of her favorite spots for photographing beautiful fall color.
I don’t think of Biltmore being completely covered in a blaze of color during the fall; it’s more like a brilliant performance that pops up in one location, then moves on to dazzle in another one. This gradual movement gives estate guests the opportunity to experience varying fall color throughout the season.
Reception Ticketing & Sales Center
Some of the most spectacular color arrives early in the season. Gorgeous bright red and orange sugar maple trees greet guests at Reception Ticketing & Sales Center, just beyond the estate’s entrance.
Some of what I call the “signature shots” are those that compel guests to get out of their cars and take pictures—like the maples bordering the Bass Pond, for instance. It's beautiful there any time of the day, but in the afternoon, when the leaves are backlit by the western sun and glow against a blue sky, this area is especially gorgeous. With the vivid leaves of the trees reflecting in the water, a walk around the Bass Pond is a must-do for capturing fall color.
Diana & the Esplanade
Another signature shot is along the Esplanade, the hill across the Front Lawn of Biltmore House leading up to the statue of Diana. Every year I try to get a shot from the statue’s perspective. Here you have a full view of the house, framed on the right side by tall colorful trees. With leaves swirling around and covering the ground, it can be magical. I have even witnessed several proposals here during the fall.
One of my favorite shots near Diana is of the English Ivy that covers the wall of the Rampe Douce. It drapes down over the fountain and turns a gorgeous red with sprinkles of dark gray berries. I have photographed the leaves floating in the fountain for a beautiful shot.
Another signature shot is from the Lagoon with the view of the back of Biltmore House. I’ve most often seen people taking pictures from the open center view on the Lagoon’s northern edge, but I prefer the view from the boat ramp. This location will give much more depth to your shot. Your eyes are led through the curves of the banks, and often, ducks are swimming about, making the shot even more iconic. From this spot, the surrounding trees frame the house, and if there’s no wind, the structure will be reflected in the water—creating a perfect upside-down mirror image of Biltmore House.
And then there's the “tree that's on fire,” as I have heard many guests describe it. This impressive Japanese maple spreads out below the Pergola next to Biltmore House, and its lacy leaves turn a vivid red. A beautiful shot is from the south end of the Pergola looking toward the house, with this brilliant tree sitting below.
The grasses beneath the South Terrace at Biltmore House are also lovely this time of year. This area is a beautiful place to take family photographs. Just have your loved ones sit on the ground with the grasses in the background. This is really nice in the afternoon light.
You might not think of the Italian Garden as a fall destination, but this area can be very picturesque. The large lotus leaves turn a golden yellow and mingle with the dry pods popping up like dark shower heads.
Biltmore is a wonderful place to take pictures any time of the year, but there is something truly magical about fall at Biltmore. Brilliant colors off set the splendor of the gardens and landscapes. The fields soften and the light sharpens, intensifying the architectural details of Biltmore House. It’s a great time to bring special friends and family for a cherished portrait.