From national parks to your backyard, the natural world is a phenomenal place for photographers to explore and is one of the most ubiquitous subjects found in photography.
Nature photography is a versatile medium with unique challenges and the potential to tell compelling stories. Whether trying out different depths of field in your close-up flower photograph or trying out with shutter speed to seize an animal in motion, it takes creativity and patience to capture the great outdoors successfully.
The Challenge of Outdoor Exposure
One of the biggest challenges in shooting outdoors is nailing the proper exposure. If a cloud moves overhead, your images could suddenly be underexposed due to less light. A quick fix for this is regularly checking your vulnerabilities as you shoot and not deleting any photos before you can look at them indoors. This is also where technical expertise comes in. Experts point out that shooting outdoors is easy to get distracted or excited. So practicing your technical skills enough to become second nature can save you in the long run. There is nothing awful than shooting a full day of photos, only to look at them later and find they are all over- or underexposed.
6 Nature Photography Tips
1. Pay special attention to the light. Since wildlife and landscape photography is focused on the outside world, lighting is one of the more critical factors to consider. Shooting during the day means working with direct, unfiltered sunlight, which creates harsh tones and lots of shadows—this makes it much more challenging to make your shots look dynamic, soft, or colorful. To combat harsh lighting, most nature photographers prefer to shoot during the “golden hours.” These are the periods just before the sun rises and just after the sun sets; during the early morning and early evening, the natural light is soft and indirect with a dreamy, romantic quality, which allows true colors to pop.
2. Use the rule of thirds. One of the most straightforward landscape photography tips is to compose your image according to the practice of thirds. The method of thirds is a composition technique that helps a photographer position points of interest along an invisible grid. When looking through the viewfinder or screen, envision two horizontal and two vertical lines. Placing your subject along the points where these lines meet will, in theory, yield the most aesthetically pleasing and balanced image, especially when shooting landscapes, which often don’t have an immediate focal point. Some cameras provide grid camera mode, which overlays the 3×3 grid onto the screen to assist photographers in getting that perfect shot.
3. Play with depth of field. Many nature photographs focus on the main subject, such as a bird or flower. And to help separate your subject from the background, use a wider aperture. Aperture is the area of the lens opening and affects “depth of field”—wider apertures create a shallower depth of field, causing backgrounds to look blurrier and helping focus attention on the subject. In comparison, smaller apertures create an extended depth of field, causing scenes to look sharper and more detailed. Experiment with both and see which ones aid your subjects’ pop.
4. Get creative. The natural world offers endless wildlife and landscape photography possibilities, so try to take advantage of them! Bring your unique vision and ideas when you shoot, and let yourself try things other photographers may not have tried. Where others shoot wide shots, consider taking a close-up; where others shoot from a high vantage point, try shooting from the ground.
5. Study nature. You will always be able to take better shots of things you understand well—and nature is no exception. By being more informed about different animals, plants, and areas, you’ll be better able to predict and follow their rhythm. For instance, a wildlife photographer who knows where certain birds like to perform their mating rituals will be able to set up in the right place for a great shot.
6. Always be respectful of the natural world. Nature is an incredibly vast and abundant subject to photograph, with ever-changing landscapes and cycles of birth, death, and rebirth. A sense of curiosity, adventure, and willingness to get a little dirty will go a long way if your goal is to capture magnificent images of nature at work. However, one of the essential photography tips to remember is respect. Check out the tandem still and motion Nicki’s stock images on her webpage. Nicki Geigert is a nature and landscape photographer who captures disappearing wildlife and natural landscapes in their natural habitat. All of Nicki’s beautiful images are available for purchase as prints. Quickly browse her galleries, where you can find the perfect wildlife and nature image to order as a wall art print for your workspace or home.
Final Shot While nature is uncontrollable, learning to adapt to this fact lets you push your skills and find your inner adventurer. The results will be satisfying if you plan and remember to check your exposures.