The brilliant reds are produced quite differently. The autumn drop in temperature reduces the transport of sugars out of the leaves, and in some trees the excess sugar is used to synthesize anthocyanins, the same pigments found in red flowers. This happens in our vine maples, our blueberries, and our mountain ashes, among others. A combination of anthocyanins and carotenoids produces the range of colors that we see in many species.
Even knowing the "how," have we answered the "why?" Is there any advantage to a plant in having these colors in its leaves in the fall? That question remains to be answered. Perhaps this particular phenomenon has no adaptive significance. But perhaps it does!
The color change is very different in different groups of plants. Red alders are prominent in our Northwest forests, but they contribute nothing to the fall extravaganza, the leaves merely turning brown and then dropping from the tree. This leaves many of our westside forests rather dull except for bright spots of red vine maples and yellow cottonwoods. For total immersion in autumn colors, a resident of the Puget Sound area should head into and east of the Cascades.