5 Tips for Better Nature Photography

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One of the most challenging things about photography is finding good subject matter. People want to see images of places and things that they normally may not get to witness in person. It’s not always easy to find fresh and appealing material that will draw in your viewer and capture their attention.

Luckily, with a little looking, you have the most abundant resource you will ever need to produce wonderful photographs, that have appeal and carry timeless beauty: nature. That’s right, our incredible natural world offers virtually limitless opportunities for you to bring out the very best in yourself so you can show others the awesomeness that surrounds us all.

Nature

Whether you’re shooting in rugged mountains, the ocean, or in your own backyard, there are ways to get the most out of your photography to be sure you produce some of the best images you possibly can, each and every time. Here are five easy to follow tips, which will help you take better nature photography, as you venture out to explore the natural world!

#1 – Go Small

The vast majority of the comings and goings occurring in nature, take place completely unknown to us. Wonderful little occurrences move constantly along in harmony, and can offer great chances for getting an equally wonderful photograph.

Dew

When you’re out shooting in nature, don’t forget to pay attention to the smallest of details. Bring a lens that has a decent zoom (over 50mm) and is capable of focusing close-up. Certainly you don’t need a macro lens in order to get great photos of small things, but do keep in mind that the closer you can get the better off you will be.

Lens

Look for insects going about their daily lives, and pay special attention to the patterns in nature that can be found in leaves, flowers, and the Earth itself.

Plant

Getting close to small natural wonders means that you are also likely to be get a little dirty, so remember not to go out shooting wearing your best clothes.

#2 – Look Up, Look Down, Look All Around

Far too often we unintentionally view the world that is directly in front of us, and neglect to see the literal big picture. There is so much more to see if we would only look tilt our heads up. There are many wonderful things to photograph above our heads, and even greater opportunities for creative photography.

Trees 1

Look for interesting and dramatic cloud formations, and incorporate clouds in your shots of other natural scenes. Remember that hardly anyone likes looking at an uninteresting sky, so try and compose your shots with that in mind.

Field

It doesn’t stop at merely looking for cool cloud formations either. Get instant creativity in your shots by using leading lines, and vertical perspectives to give your images a uniqueness, that is sure to catch the attention of your viewers.

Crops

Trees 2

The same goes for looking down onto your subject. There are many interesting perspectives to be had by shooting straight down on your subject from above.

Hedge

The key thing to remember here, is that your goal is to show things in nature in ways that most people don’t get to see, or have not even considered looking for in the first place. Make use of the power of perspective, and pay attention to everything around you, whether it’s above your head or below your chin.

#3 – See the Light

Light is the basic force behind all photography. It illuminates your subjects, and brings shadows and contrast to your photos. Learning to understand the nature of light is a lifelong journey for any photographer. Using the light found in nature is one of the best ways to add impact to your images and gain powerful compositions. Seeing light is something that takes practice, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t capable of using it to your advantage right now.

Sunlight

When you’re out shooting, be sure to pay close attention to the way shadows are cast, and by whatever you happen to be photographing. Seeing the contrasts within the scene helps you to avoid dry and drab photos that are generally unappealing.

Direction of light is also very important, and can make a place or object look completely different depending on the angle of the sun. Be sure to visit a location more than once, at varying times of day (or even at night), so that you can find your creative spark.

#4 – Get out Early . . . Stay out Late

If you are searching for good natural light for your photographs, it means that you have to be there when it happens. That good light almost always comes about in the morning hours as the sun rises, or in those late evening hours when the sun begins to disappear. You must be prepared to get out and be ready for this great light if you want to increase your chances of getting great shots.

While you are definitely able to find good light throughout the day, it’s a good idea to get out and about early, or late in the day, so that you can see the gorgeous effects of morning and afternoon light.

trees 3

Furthermore, most animals and insects operate at their peak during the very early and late hours of the day. Even if it means losing a little sleep, it will almost always be worth the trouble to make sure you’re there when the magic happens.

#5 – Bring Backup

One of the most depressing feelings you will ever experience as a photographer is that of a dead battery, or a full memory card, as a beautiful scene disappears before your eyes. It’s always worth your while to bring an extra battery and memory card (extra film) so that you’re prepared when Murphy’s Law makes an appearance. Stack the odds in your favor when shooting the natural world be being prepared.

Lens Cloth

This doesn’t end with simply bringing an extra battery either. A lens cloth and blower brush can save the day when you get a little rain or dirt onto your lens. Being prepared for the small things isn’t difficult, and it ensures that you’ll be ready when the time to click that awesome photo comes along.

Follow these five simple tips and make the most of your time shooting out in our amazing natural world. Have some tips of your own? Be sure to share them in the comments below as well as your nature photography images.

This week we are doing a series of articles to help you do nature photography. This is the second, also read: 3 Habits Every Outdoor Photographer Should Develop to Avoid Missing Shots  – and watch for more coming soon! 

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Adam Welch is a photographer, writer, educator, adventurer, baconographer, and beerologist currently based in the western portion of his home state of Tennessee. You can usually find him on some distant trail making photographs or at his computer writing about all the elegant madness that is photography. Follow his blog over at aphotographist.com or pick up his new book Cameras in the Wild.

  • Yahart 53

    Thanks for sharing your insight. In “going small” I frequently use a vintage Vivitar 70-210 mm macro lens for close ups
    Here is my example of going small…..
    http://www.viewbug.com/photo/67262143

  • Loved your tips. I’m new to photography and this was very helpful. 🙂

  • great tips and I am going on a mega tour soon! thanks

  • Awesome tips! “Going small” is my new favorite, and I use my phone camera for this.

    And I love this;

    “The key thing to remember here, is that your goal is to show things in nature in ways that most people don’t get to see, or have not even considered looking for in the first place. Make use of the power of perspective, and pay attention to everything around you, whether it’s above your head or below your chin.”

    Thank you

  • Bettyw

    Thanks for sharing, I am found of nature photography and always look for nice tips to do it better, something similar I saw on Fix the Photo

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