nature photography tips

This article about nature photography tips is a general guide to give you some ideas on getting started with nature photography. Take advantage of specific topics by browsing around.

Photographing nature itself is so relaxing, but it is even more fun when your resulting photos look great. I hope you can find some inspiration here.

Nature picture of fall colors

(Soft Fall colors and diffused sunlight)

look at and study the light that nature brings to you

I was on a photo nature hike. It was a beautiful fall day, with a warm breeze and blue skies and I was deep in the woods.  Nothing spectacular here.  Just an enjoyable experience!

For the photo above, I came upon an algae covered pond and looked across at a beautiful array of pastel colors, gently highlighted by the brush of a few filtered patches of softened sunlight.

Often the most interesting light is found very early and very late in the day. Photographer's use the term Sweet Light or Golden light for great nature shots and it's good lighting for portrait photography too.

It is a lifelong process.  Even when you are not actively photographing nature, if you pay attention to how light is always around you, affecting everything you perceive, you become more skilled at seeing how light creates our interpretation of the visual world.


look at the colors nature provides us

Yellow leave and blue sky surrounded by dark green leaves in this nature photo

I am always intrigued by the naturally occurring range of colors that are represented in nature. Rather than look at what your subject is, it is often helpful to only study the colors that are present in the scene in front of you before you take you photo.

I often create photos that don't have a center of interest, but rather record color patterns and textures.

In the nature photo on the right, I thought it was interesting to compose the picture with the yellow leaves surrounded by the blue sky, which was then framed in by the green leaves.

To get the right exposure, I actually had to underexpose the image. My camera's meter was "fooled" a bit by the dark underside of the shaded green leaves.

It is a common photo mistake to always rely on your camera's auto-exposure system to get the perfect exposure in all lighting conditions.

It analyzed the scene as an average situation and would have lightened the image up too much, resulting in overexposure of the sunlit yellow leaves.


nature photography tips - #3

Slow shutter speed used in nature photography of water can be used to get desirable motion blur

Think about shutter speed.  

Another nature photography tip is to think about shutter speed before you take your picture.  

Most of the time you want a fast shutter speed to keep your nature shots tack sharp, but there are exceptions.

If you want to capture movement in a picture of nature use a slow shutter speed.

Waterfalls, rivers and waves on the beach are great examples where intentionally having motion blur adds to the appeal of a nature photo.

This technique requires a sturdy tripod and a remote trigger or cable release.

The photo's exposure can vary from 1/2 second to several seconds, depending on the effect you want and the amount of light that is present.


nature photography equipment

You don't need specialized equipment to be able to take great pictures of nature. However, there are certain situations that specialized equipment will expand on what you can accomplish.

I am often packing 2 Canon DSLR cameras with a normal zoom lens and a long prime telephoto lens, extension tubes for macro photography,  and a tripod and shutter release cord.

Have a camera that has a zoom lens with a wide range of zoom. Purists will tell you that a prime lens give you the sharpest results, but for 95% of nature photographers zoom lenses are more versatile and plenty sharp enough

A prime lens means it has a fixed focal length-not a zoom. When zoom lenses are constructed there are compromises made in quality to allow it to vary the focal length.

Although it's true to the super critical, most viewers will never be able to tell by looking at a photograph if it was taken using a zoom lens or a primary lens.


take the time to get close-up with nature

Macro photo of a busy bee

Go Macro.

It is easy to get caught up in the immense grandeur of nature and miss out on the macro world right in front of us.  

Macro photography is always available as a small category for subject matter within nature photography.

Take the time to shoot close-up in addition to the grand scenes that are available to photograph.  

Here are some macro photography ideas to inspire you.


understand the importance of using depth of field in nature photography

Even a basic understanding of knowing what depth of field means is a great start. Here are some examples of depth of field to give you some inspiration on its importance.

Knowing when you want a shallow depth of field or a deep depth of field to accentuate certain parts of your photograph is important in all kinds of photography, including nature.

Another tip regarding nature photography tip  is to consider adding a filter to your list of accessories.  To reduce glare or to darken a blue sky try using a  polarizing filter.

You can have a great time taking pictures of nature because you are combining two pleasurable activities: getting out in nature and also mastering better digital photography.

If these nature photography tips (or any others on this web site) have helped you in any way, inspired you or have given you at least one valuable idea, please share.  Pass it on.


Happy Shooting!
Photo Tipman


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Nature Photography of Art Wolfe