The nice weather is finally upon us, giving us a great excuse to get outdoors and hone our nature photography skills.
Whether you’re looking to capture the many colors of the season, or working on refining your black and white photography skills, there are numerous considerations for getting the most out of your nature photography hobby. Tripods are useful for stabilizing a camera in specific situations. If you’re shooting with a smartphone, consider a more compact, portable option like the GorillaPod from Joby, which is one of our favorites.
Here are a few basics to keep in mind when exploring nature photography techniques:
1. Get Creative with Your Surroundings
Nature photography isn’t constrained to scenic landscapes. If you live in the city, consider visiting local city gardens or museums. Carefully cared for plants and trees, or wonderfully wild gardens, are interesting subjects to photograph. Some photographers prefer soft natural light – while others prefer interesting lighting situations, such as the hours after a storm. It helps to avoid situations where the brightness of the light or the darkness of shadows may overtake your photos.
2. Practice Nature Photography on Vacations
If travelling to a natural treasure, like Crater Lake or Yosemite, bring your photography equipment with you. The natural parks offer many opportunities to take majestic snapshots of the scenery and wildlife. The “magic hours” around dawn and sunset are great times to capture inspiring shots if you can get the timing right.
1. Macro Lenses
If you’re intrigued by the close-up details of nature, such as plants, stones or insects, consider a macro lens for your DSLR camera. These lenses have the amazing ability to sharply focus on tiny details. Enjoy focusing on the textures of nature’s wonders with a macro lens for both color and black and white photography. Macro lenses can be more powerful than the human eye. While it takes some patience to make the most of this type of lens, you can achieve high-quality close-ups of flowers, leaves, or butterflies that show off microscopic details.
Experiment with various levels of magnification, ranging from close up to microscopic. With macro lenses and professional-level cameras, it’s possible to create a shallow depth of field by zooming in on a specific subject while blurring out most of the background. This creates an artistic or compelling photo, while guiding the viewer toward your intended subject. Explore abstract nature photography by taking up-close photos that highlight shapes, textures, and colors. You might find manual focus more useful compared to autofocus with macro lenses.
2. Telephoto Lenses
Telephoto lenses are adept at capturing grand landscapes and majestic scenes. Telephoto lenses capture details on mountains and subtle hues in landscapes that are hard to shoot with other types of lenses. Consider balancing elements that are closer and farther away, so that your shots have a sense of symmetry. You might want to focus on mid-range subjects or subjects that take up the entire photo from afar. You can zoom in to get a well-cropped shot, or zoom out to capture a large field of view.
Telephoto lenses work well for preserving photo quality when zooming in, or when photographing complex scenes. These types of lenses are also preferable for many action photo shoots. For example, if you spot a bird flying overhead or an animal leaping nearby, a telephoto lens is helpful for capturing the action. Make sure your camera settings are appropriate for the style of action photo you wish to achieve. It’s important to study shutter speed and aperture so that you can efficiently adjust your camera settings at a moment’s notice.
3. Smartphones or Point & Shoot Cameras
Smartphones and point & shoot cameras sometimes get a bad reputation for lower quality photos compared to more professional types of cameras. However, technology is quickly evolving and the capabilities of these small, handy cameras have gone up in recent years. You can even find affordable accessories like telephoto or macro lenses for your smartphone. When taking photos with smartphone cameras, it’s tempting to take lots of shots. Yet, you may only need to take one or two shots to take the ideal nature photo if you focus on all of the aspects that make a great photograph.
For example, focus on keeping handheld photo gadgets steady when taking a shot. Balance various elements in the shot, such as the horizon line or branches of a tree. Make sure the lighting is appropriate to accurately capture the colors or details that can heavily influence the outcomes of photos. Some handheld devices provide in-camera photo editing features so that you can make small changes that impact the overall look of the photo.