This article came about after a deviant specifically requested that we write ten clear, simple tips for Photographing Nature. Troubleshooting articles and information can be very useful, but sometimes breaking it down into manageable memorable chunks is so much easier. So without further ado please enjoy our Ten Tips for Nature Photographers!
1) Get into your environment
Yes, it's rhubarb. To be a true photographer, you must be at one with rhubarb.
When we talk about photographing Nature, we don't necessarily mean wide expansive rolling landscapes. Whilst they contain any number of elements that are nature focused and made up from natural resources - Nature Photography
is about getting into your environment and getting up close and personal with these
elements. So think of it like you are Photographing the components that make up that beautiful landscape, or the inhabitants of those rolling hills. With this thought in mind, you need to jump into the environment you're photographing. Whether that means wading into a lake, climbing a tree (carefully!) or crouching down in the forest floor.
2) Plan your Kit
This includes clothing! If you're venturing out with the intention of photographing animals then do wear something neutral. I once had a Kingfisher land right in front of me whilst I was out with the camera. I straightened up slightly for a better angle and my bright blue top instantly gave a warning. The moment was lost! Try and pick something that will blend in nicely with the environment that you're working in. Also carefully consider your Photography kit. A Monopod is less intrusive than a tripod and takes less time to set up, position and use. So if you're able to get crisp shots with one, then take it instead of a cumbersome tripod. Also charge your batteries >< (For those sharper eyed amongst you, you'll see in the shot below, I don't take my own advice
3) Tilt and Swivel!
I find that my latest D-SLR is fantastic for capturing low-angle shots purely because it has that ingenious feature of a tilting and swivelling LCD. Coupled with live view and you're in tilt and swivel heaven! It's something to consider if you're looking at getting a new camera and you're seriously into nature photography.
4) Experiment with Depth of Field
A shallow depth of field is often great for focusing on something large in an expansive environment. But if you're wanting to capture tall plants in a wider, longer field then consider using a deeper depth. This is perfect for singly out a few poppies in a long stretch of bobbing flowers.
5) Check your Lens
Macro lens's can be fantastic for shooting up close with various nature beings, but also consider using it for those wider shots too. A wide-angle lens is great for capturing expanse, but a macro lens (especially the one I have which doubles up as a fantastic portrait lens) is very useful as well. Just be sure to check your auto-focal points within the camera so that you're not inadvertently capturing a blur.
6) Check your weather!
I mention this in almost every Photography article that I write, but in most D-SLR cameras you can set your white balance now to fit in well with the conditions. Do this! If you've got a dreary day you can set it to make the most of the conditions, if you've got an overly bright day you can ensure it doesn't give you too much over-exposure. Working with white balance will save your images, working against it...well. Let's not go there!
7) Post-Process...just a little
Editing your Photos isn't bad, it isn't something you should hide under your bed, or something you don't want your parents to catch you doing or even something you should do in the middle of the night because nobody will see you....Yes, you know what I'm talking about! Post-Production! Giving your shots a little boost afterwards can save them, honestly it can. In the image above, I used photoshop to enhance the greens so that they contrasted better with the blue. That's all I did, just a few minor tweaks here and there and you'll be fine!
8) Ignore Time!
Being patient, especially when waiting to capture that million pound shot of a wild animal that nobody has seen for a trillion years, is difficult. I know. I've been there. (Still waiting for the shot!!) But you need to have patience, and you need to not have one eye on the clock. Enjoy your surroundings and take some random shots here and there, you might be surprised when you get back and have a closer look.
9) Hood your lens!
Lens hoods are simple, cheap, effective things that will save your life. Probably not in an apocalypse. But more in times when you're beating yourself up because you didn't have a lens hood on.
Honestly, they really are fantastic, they cut out a lot of sun glare and flare and when you're bored waiting for that awesome shot, you can have competitions to see who can roll theirs the furthest!
10) Don't be afraid...
There are things out there that scare us, that we don't want to get up close to, and that we'd rather just walk in the opposite direction of. Spiders, bugs, wasps, bees, ants...the list for many, can be endless. But if you've got the right lens, the patience and a bit of time then you can capture most things without having to get too close and risk your life...