You can improve your nature photography composition by starting with ugly subject! Huh? Read on.
I included this unusual nature photo in the beginning of this article on nature photography for a reason. I am guessing that you would agree it is not what you would call a great nature photograph.
It's common to see beautiful subjects used as photo examples in articles on photography composition. It's easy to be misled and think that finding great subjects is the only key to great photography.
Challenge yourself by photographing ordinary or unattractive objects in an interesting way.
Try using a few digital photography tips with not so beautiful subjects first. This practice will automatically make all of your photographs a bit better.
Let's look at this photo of the fallen log, taken at White Clay Creek State Park in the state of Delaware.
Photography composition rules used:
1. Diagonal line coming from an edge near a corner.
2. A Leading Line toward the subject.
3. Placement of center of interest using the Rule of Thirds
I'm not sure if this is an attractive nature photo or not. Being a Nature Nerd I was fascinated by two things about this log. The almost finger like root system at the bottom of this log surrounded by the grassy vegetation. It almost resembled a hand grabbing a wad of green steal wool.
Secondly, the split in the trunk was shaped as if purposefully done to transform itself into a canoe for floating down the White Clay Creek. So, we accomplished a good composition, even though the subject was perhaps not so usual.
The two photos above of the information center on the Tri-Valley Trail show the importance of choosing the right perspective.
The photo on the left is composed better than the photo on the right. On the left I had a more distant perspective, which included the path of the nature Tri-Valley nature trail coming in from the right and curving toward the bridge in the distance.
On the right I was closer to the information board and used a very wide-angle lens setting. This made the bridge too small in the distance. It also made the information center too dominant in the photo and included less of the surrounding beautiful nature area.
When you are practicing your nature photography composition techniques, remember to try a few different perspectives to change what is emphasized in your photos.
Using the right perspective includes picking the right camera format, vertical or horizontal.
In this view of the White Clay Creek from the Tri-Valley bridge, I captured the reflection of the sky in the water.
This vertical format included a large area of water and the reflection of the white overcast sky.
This area of water and reflection dominates the photo and really isn't interesting enough to dedicate to 2/3 of the area in the photo.
Look what happened when I turned my camera to a horizontal position and moved to the side of the bridge.
Not an award winner, but a whole lot better composition than the vertical.
Now I have more balance between the water and the foliage. The rule of thirds in photography works here quite well.
Also, the diagonal, leading lines work much better here as well.
Generally I don't consciously think about these nature photography composition tips as I shoot, because they've become second nature (no pun intended) to me.
Digital photography has given us the freedom to experiment with different perspectives, angles, and compositions with no worries of wasting film or processing and printing costs.
So practice these tips on taking digital photography as often as you can and discover what works and what doesn't.
As you gain more experience in experimenting with different photography compositions, you'll discover when to follow and when to break some of the rules of composition.
I just added these Fall foliage nature photographs below:
Occasionally I will abandon composition rules and compose the photo based on a feeling of what looks good. Nature supplies us with an infinite source of color patterns, textures and shapes to practice our photography composition techniques.
I am a nature geek and I enjoy photography of abstract color patterns.
This nature photo of the intermingled red, yellow and green leaves does not really follow any composition rules like the rule of thirds or using diagonal lines.
I just enjoy the variety of Natural Bouquets that Mother Nature produces each Fall here in the Northeast USA. I hope you enjoyed this article and picked least a few nature photography composition tips.
This concludes part two of the Nature Photography Composition Tips article.
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