Tips for Better Nature Photography
Nature is the ultimate choice for great photographic subjects. You don't need to go very far to find suitable things to photograph and it is not that difficult to accomplish if you follow some simple steps
Once you choose that you want to do some nature work and have planned your location and routine, then consider the gear that you will bring along and keep an open mind.
First of all is to go small. This does not mean to get small as in always being close to the ground but it does refer to looking for small subjects that can easily be overlooked like insects, snails, mushrooms and many other bugs and plants that can usually be found crawling along the ground or growing very close to it.
Bring a zoom in the range of about 50mm to 80mm. This will allow you to zoom close enough to small critters. A macro might come in handy but this should be used for slow moving very small subjects like ants, snails and such and plant life.
For flying insects, birds and most mammals a zoom lens in the range of at least 200mm would be sufficient but 400mm would be better.
With these three lenses you have most bases covered and besides an extra camera body, extra batteries, extra memory cards or film and a tripod there should not be much more that you will need.
Try not to pay attention only to what's in front of you. That's what everyone does. Look to the front, look up and look down.
You Can miss good subject matter by only looking in one direction.
Looking up may yield good views of the upper branches of trees, nice cloud formations, perching birds, and other interesting details.
You goal is to present subjects in ways that are seldom seen. Your viewers will be that much more interested in your work by seeing the things they have seen before but shown in different ways.
Us the light to your advantage. Nature has a way of manipulating light to create interesting shadows and bring out exquisite detail wherever it falls.
Pay attention to the direction that the light comes from and the direction that it goes. This is a great way to catch some backlit subjects to capture unique images as well as the opportunity of getting some half lit subjects too.
You cannot do nature photography if you start late or end early. Be an early riser.
Many creatures from mammals to the smallest insects usually start the day early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Take advantage of this and prepare.
By starting early you also take advantage of the golden hour when it is cooler in the day and the light is diffused.
By staying late you also get diffused light and get the chance of capturing nice sunset pictures.
Try to go into your shoot with at least a notion of what it is that you want to capture. Making a shoot list will help and keep you focused.
For the majority of subject you want to isolate them. Use a large aperture to blur the background.
Depending on the amount of foliage a large aperture works better because it allows more light to enter the film or sensor plane.
For landscapes and sky pictures depending on what you want to show, a smaller aperture may be the way to go.
The shutter speed should never exceed the focal length of your lens; an 80mm zoom should be used in conjunction with a shutter speed of 1/125 or higher and so on.
Try to plan your nature shoot well in advance to explore the best options including the weather. If possible go on it with a buddy.
Better yet if you can camp in the location to give you the ability of not having to travel to an fro.
Most nature areas and preserves including national parks allow for camping or even have rental cabins within the park range. Take advantage of this if you can.
Always take a map of the area and stay within marked trails. A cell phone or satellite phone is always a good idea but make sure to have extra batteries in hand.
Many people who get lost do so because they ignore the set paths. Remember that these paths have been carefully chosen with the visitor in mind.
Planning on doing some nature photography soon?
- Nature and Landscapes – Photo Tips – National Geographic
Get tips for photographing nature and landscapes in this how-to gallery from National Geographic.
© 2016 Luis E Gonzalez