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7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

Do you want to improve your nature photography skills? Do you want to take stunning nature photos, consistently?

Don’t worry.

In this article, you’ll discover 7 photography exercises all designed to get you capturing unbelievable nature images.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

(Plus, the exercises are a lot of fun!)

So, if you want to improve your nature photography…

…keep reading.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

1. Shoot a single nature subject from 9 different angles

Here’s your first nature photography exercise (and my favorite):

Choose just one nature photography subject.

And shoot it from at least nine different angles.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

This will force you to stretch the boundaries of your creativity. It will force you to start looking at your subjects in many different ways.

The first five angles might be easy enough. But the last four will be a struggle – as it should be!

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

A few excellent angles to try:

  • Shoot on a level with your subject
  • Shoot from directly above your subject (if you can)
  • Get below your subject and shoot upward

Then, once you’ve finished the exercise, pull up the photos on your computer. Take note of the different angles and how they gave your subject slightly different looks.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

And next time you’re doing photography, use those angles!

2. Shoot a subject you normally avoid

This exercise is all about getting you out of your comfort zone.

Because if you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you’ll never grow as a photographer.

So here’s what you do:

Think about the subjects that you normally shoot.

And then…

Pick a subject that’s radically different. And shoot that subject, instead.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

If you normally photograph birds, shoot flowers for a day.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

If you normally photograph landscapes, shoot wildlife.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

Just pick something that you don’t normally like shooting.

If you want to make this exercise extra useful, then don’t just shoot another subject for a single outing. Instead, do it for a week (or even a month).

You’d be amazed by the tricks you pick up from learning another area of photography.

3. Bring just one lens into the field

Here’s the thing:

When photographers go out for a photoshoot…

…they tend to take multiple lenses (and even multiple cameras).

And while this will give you a lot of flexibility, it won’t force you to think outside the box.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

But I want you to think outside the box. I want you to think in new ways.

So the next time you go out to shoot, leave all your normal lenses behind.

Instead, bring just one lens.

And (if you’re feeling adventurous) make sure it’s a lens that you don’t use very often.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

This will force you to take nature photos that you would’ve never even considered.

4. Shoot a Scene With Four Types of Light

Nature photography is all about the light.

Which means that, as a nature photographer, you must learn to master the light.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

This exercise is designed to help you do that.

You start by picking a scene.

Then you photograph that scene with four types of light:

  • Cloudy light
  • Midday light
  • Sunrise/Sunset light
  • Shade

This will undoubtedly involve coming back several days in a row.

But it’s worth it.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

Because once you’re done, you should look at all the photos you took.

And note how the different types of light gives you different types of nature photos!

5. Take both still shots and action shots of your subject

Oftentimes, we get in the habit of shooting the same type of subject, over and over again.

I’ve already given you one way of avoiding this problem.

But another way…

…is to keep shooting that same subject. But shoot it in a different way.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

Specifically, try to take a combination of shots:

Still shots.

And action shots.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

For those of you who shoot birds or wildlife, this shouldn’t be too difficult.

But for flower and landscape photographers?

This will be tough.

If you generally photograph still subjects, you may have to get creative. Try to take some intentional camera movement photos. Or see if you can get some sort of action to happen in the frame (e.g., flowers blowing in the wind, waves crashing on the beach).

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

And that’s it! This will force you out of your comfort zone. And get you taking some fresh photos!

6. Edit your favorite nature photo in 5 different ways

One thing that you need to know:

Post-processing is a significant part of capturing stunning nature photos.

Even small adjustments go a long way.

So for this exercise, you should start thinking about different post-processing options. And edit your favorite nature photo in five distinct ways.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

You should experiment with edits in Lightroom, Photoshop, or another high-quality editing program. See what happens when you increase the saturation. See what happens when you drop the contrast.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

And try to do some new edits. Things that you haven’t done before.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

For instance, try some yellow/blue split toning. And try playing with the HSL options.

You’ll be amazed by what you can do!

7. Take a nature photo every single day for a month

This last exercise is a classic – but that doesn’t mean it’s any less useful!

One of the absolute best ways of improving your nature photography…

…is to photograph constantly.

Because practice really does make perfect.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

And if you take a nature photo every day, you’ll find that your mind starts to open up. You’ll start to see photography opportunities that you didn’t even know were there.

Your skills will increase rapidly.

And you’ll start to take stunning nature photos, consistently.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

Nature photography exercises: next steps

Now you know 7 great exercises – all designed to improve your photography skills, fast.

You don’t have to do them all at once. But try them out whenever you can.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

That way, you’ll become better, faster.

You’ll soon be taking nature photos like a pro!

Feel free to share some of the photos you take with the dPS community in the comments below.

 

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

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Jaymes Dempsey
Jaymes Dempsey

is a macro photographer from Ann Arbor, Michigan. To learn how to take stunning nature photos, check out his free eBook, Mastering Nature Photography: 7 Secrets For Incredible Nature Photos! And to see more of Jaymes’s work check out his website and his blog.