Exploring the great outdoors with your camera is a brilliant experience, especially for a nature photo shoot. The natural world is bursting with life. Furthermore, there are new photo opportunities around every corner. Crystal clear rivers teeming with schools of fish. Rolling meadows and fields awash with sunlight and crops. Towering mountains with snow-capped peaks. As you can see, nature photography can be varied and you can produce some awe-inspiring photos.
If you have a love of the natural world and want to improve your photography, we have created a list of 15 nature photography tips. These tips range from compositional techniques, through to clothing and camera gear. After reading this info, you should be ready to venture outdoors and put your new-found skills to the test.
1. Separate the subject from the background
This tip applies to any type of photography, but especially for nature photography. If you are photographing a central subject, ensure that it is clearly defined and separated from the background. This helps portray depth, and also place the subject properly within its surroundings. To separate the subject, experiment with different apertures, and change perspective.
2. Look for unique textures and patterns
The natural world is full of delightful patterns and textures. These patterns can create beautiful and interesting photos. When exploring, look for the small details – wood grain, patterns on leaves, for example. Also, look for larger patterns – neat rows of crops in fields, the curving lines of rivers. Literally, anywhere you look there could be a striking pattern waiting to be photographed.
3. Utilize natural light
Natural light can completely change the composition of a photo. Furthermore, natural light adds interest and depth to photos. It is important to use natural light to enhance your photos. Look how the light falls on different parts of a landscape, for example. Maybe there is a break in the clouds, and a particular field is bathed in sunlight, for example.
4. Experiment with different time periods
Sunset, sunrise, twilight, the golden hour – these are all different time periods that produce different light conditions. The resulting photos can look vastly different. You could, for example, take a photo of the same landscape at 4 different time periods, and each one would create a different effect. Use the sun to your advantage, and consider exploring during these different time periods.
5. Look for unique perspectives and angles
People often tend to photograph the same landscapes and objects – we often photography what hundreds of people have shot before. If you want to make your nature photography shine, be different and look for unique angles and perspectives. Move around – climb up high, or get down low to the ground. See what interesting compositions you can create that hasn’t been shot before.
6. Always respect your surroundings
Different ecosystems and natural habitats are extremely delicate. We must, therefore, respect our surroundings and be careful when taking photos. Try and refrain from damaging anything. Furthermore, don’t move any objects – even small things like leaves and branches. Leave everything as is – this will ensure that your photography does not cause environmental harm.
7. Do not disturb wildlife in their natural habitat
Respecting the habitats and privacy of wildlife is highly important. Remember that these are wild animals – they generally do not have experience with humans. If you invade their privacy, you could totally disrupt their natural behavior and cause distress.
8. Wear appropriate clothing
Imagine being caught in a thunderstorm without a waterproof coat? Or hiking through muddy fields in your sandals? This may be common sense, but ensure you wear the right clothing! Failing to wear the right attire can ruin your whole experience and potentially lead to disaster.
9. Use the rule of thirds when framing a subject
The rule of thirds is a simple but effective compositional technique. This rule is used to position photos and position the main subject properly in an image. Consider your viewing area is split into a 3×3 grid. The main subject should be positioned on one of the intersecting lines and no central. This gives a photo balance and frames the subject interestingly.
10. Be patient and wait for the right opportunities
Patience is a necessity when taking nature photos. When outdoors, the weather can change instantly. This can produce vastly different compositions. Furthermore, wildlife’s behavior is unpredictable. You must, therefore, be patient and wait for opportunities to present themselves.
11. Capture natural behaviors and actions
When taking wildlife photos outdoors, it is important to capture natural behavior. This helps build up a story of the scene you have captured. It also helps show the true nature of wildlife. This ties into the above pointer about patience. Waiting for that squirrel to pick up a nut and start nibbling, for example, or the moment when that deer looks up from grazing to stare directly into your lens.
12. Utilize different camera modes
This applies more to those who have a DSLR camera and a little more knowledge. Your camera will likely have several shooting modes such as AV, and TV. Consider switching to these modes to give yourself greater control and flexibility. AV mode, for example, allows you to concentrate on changing the aperture for different depths of field.
13. Consider using a tripod
A tripod offers stability. Firstly, if you have unsteady hands, a tripod helps lessen focus blur. Secondly, a tripod allows you to take photos effectively, even during difficult weather conditions such as high winds. The tripod doesn’t have to be huge – you could even purchase a small portable tripod such as a Gorillapod.
14. Take multiple images and don’t delete anything
If you have a digital camera that uses an SD memory card, you do not need to worry about space. We have moved past film cameras with limited photo capacity. Take as many photos as you want! The more the merrier. Furthermore, don’t delete any shots. What looks like a bad photo on the screen, could be OK when viewed on a computer.
15. Keep your camera protected against the elements
Regardless of how expensive your camera is, you do not want it to become damaged. It is vital, therefore, to protect it against the elements. In cold weather, keep the camera exposed to avoid moisture gathering on the lens or sensor. Also, consider using a lens hood to protect the lens glass from rain and dust. Moreover, consider keeping your spare equipment in a camera bag for additional protection.
By utilizing these 15 nature photography tips, you can greatly improve your basic skills. The most important tip of all, however, is to have fun and enjoy the experience. Our natural world is special and should be treasured; therefore ensure you take time to step away from the camera and enjoy what you are looking at!