Nature Photography: Tips for Photographing Nature’s Wonders
Photographing nature takes more skill than simply pointing and shooting a camera. Understanding your subject and your equipment is crucial to taking exquisite nature shots. This article offers tips on the various aspects of nature photography.
Although nothing compares to viewing nature’s beauty in person, a skilled nature photographer can capture a glimpse of that beauty. You too can learn how to take breathtaking nature photos!
Being Prepared for Nature Photography Means More Than Bringing Your Equipment
When it comes to photographing nature, a photographer must be able to do more than just properly frame a shot. Experienced nature photographers anticipate and prepare for their best shots.
A good nature photographer studies the subject to be photographed days or weeks prior to the day of the shoot. If the subject is a bird, insect or other animal, you can prepare by understanding feeding and nest-building habits, for example. If you plan to photograph flowers or other plants, you should examine the effect of daylight on your shot at various times.
To become truly skilled in photographing nature, practice with your camera until it becomes a part of you. Be familiar with the various settings and adjustments so that you can respond quickly to changes without losing opportunities for great shots.
Photographing Nature Requires Attention
Whether you’re photographing wildlife, plants or a wondrous sunset, be aware of your surroundings. Follow these tips to capture the best opportunities for nature photos:
- Be aware of all of your senses: your ear may hear something that your eyes have missed.
- Maintain perspective: when changing locations, check out where you have just been so you know where to travel next to get another amazing shot.
- Pay attention to your surroundings: look up and down, as well as side to side.
- Study your subject’s habits: know how to anticipate an upcoming photo opportunity or when to flee.
Equipment for Nature Photography
Whether you’re an amateur or an expert at photographing nature, you won’t get the perfect shot if you forget some of your equipment. Below is a checklist of important items that you’ll need for photographing nature:
- fanny pack camera bag
- flash (and all its components)
- fully charged batteries and spares
- laptop computer with fully charged battery
- lens brush
- lens cleaning fluid and tissues
- lens filter
- microfiber lens cloth
- plastic bags of various sizes (for foul-weather protection)
- portable digital storage unit for digital cameras
- various lenses
- weather-resistant camera cover.
As you become more adept at photographing nature, you should develop a feel for the settings on your camera. Being familiar with your camera’s settings will help you determine which setting works best for various types of nature photos.
Below are some standard settings that will help you get excellent nature photographs:
- image sharpness : For sharp images, use your cable release, the self-timer and a tripod.
- shutter speed : Take several photographs of your subject while changing shutter speeds and f-stops. This will create different versions of your subject, instead of only one image. The more you experiment with this, the better feel you’ll get for it.
- exposure : Through most of the daytime hours, a front lit subject can be exposed using the reciprocal of your film speed.
The three most important attributes of landscape light when photographing nature are light quality, light direction and light temperature. Each plays an important role in setting up the proper shot for nature photography.
In nature photography, light quality can be further divided into diffused light and specular light. Diffused light is the sun’s light coming through the clouds on an overcast day. Conversely, specular light comes from a bright point of light, like the sun shining brightly on a clear day.
Diffused light is a favorite of many nature photographers because it makes subjects easy to properly expose. Some subjects best photographed under diffused light include:
- forest scenes
- up-close nature scenes
- wildlife and people portraits.
Specular light casts harsh shadows, creating a greater challenge for the nature photographer. However, secular light can produce a more dramatic effect if the proper camera mechanisms are set.
Light direction, as the term suggests, is the direction of the light within a shot. Different directions can produce different results when photographing nature.
- Front light (the sun is behind you) is best used when the scene features a strong color or tone.
- Side light emphasizes texture and works well for strongly textured landscapes.
- Back light emphasizes shape and form, making it ideal for creating a silhouette.
Light temperature refers to the color of the light throughout the day. It is a difficult concept for amateur nature photographers to master since our eyes correct for natural changes in light temperature. However, film does not self-correct for changing light temperatures throughout the day. For this reason, experts recommend that digital cameras with a white balance be set to “daylight” to take advantage of the light’s temperature change.
Putting Together the Components of Photographing Nature
Becoming a successful nature photographer requires mastery of a number of distinct skills. Keep notes in a journal that helps you reconstruct the conditions for a series of shots on a particular subject so that you can analyze light, color, settings, background, framing and other attributes to fully understand the relationship among them.
Contemporary Portrait Photography In simple terms, contemporary portrait photography is a photograph of a person, usually focused on the face. While many immediately think of contemporary portraiture as pictures taken by a professional ...
Pet Photography Tips: Photographing Pets’ Personalities Amateur pet photography may cause pets to look blurry, angry or frightened. This article offers tips for photographing pets, outlining the mechanics of photography so you can accurately capture your ...