Fall is - in my experience - one of the more difficult times to paint convincingly and in an unsentimental manner. In J.F. Carlson's classic book: Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting, John Carlson lays down one of the most enduring principles of value distribution in painting landscapes. Simply put, he divides the landscape into planes with varying degrees of light hitting them and affecting the values on a simple 4 value scale.
- The sky of course is the lightest value since it is the source of light
- The flat land is the second lightest since it receives the most uninterrupted light from the sky
- The sloping planes (Mountains/ hills) are the third lightest because they receive less direct light than the flat planes
- The upright planes (Trees/ cliffs) are the fourth on the value scale because they receive the least direct light since they are perpendicular to the light source in the sky.
Of course there are many assumptions that mitigate the principle such as time of day and water/ snow etc...