Nature photography is probably the easiest type of photography to start with. Most likely, you are already a nature photographer. Have you ever photographed a flower or a natural scene? So, you have already tried nature photography.
Anyone can take a nature photo, but it takes hard work and courage to stand out. You must learn more about the natural world, be comfortable with your equipment, and be willing to try different techniques. More than that, you should not be afraid of failure.
With that said, here are our tips for taking stunning nature photos.
1. Learn more about the world around you
If you choose nature photography because you can shoot random flowers and plants, think again. To be a successful nature photographer, you must be an expert in what you are photographing. So take the time to learn about the flora and fauna in your neighborhood.
With nature apps like iNaturalist or PictureThis, learning about nature isn’t too difficult. You can use these apps to identify plants and organisms. Then, you will be able to investigate more about them and learn about their behavior and habits.
This practice will help you understand the best seasons and times to find a particular flower, plant, or animal.
2. Start with inexpensive equipment
When you’re not getting beautiful photos of nature, it’s easy to blame the limitations of your camera. But the truth is, you don’t need any fancy equipment to take nature photos. If anything, things like composition or time of day matter more.
Your iPhone or smartphone is a great tool for photographing the great outdoors. However, consider investing in a mirrorless or DSLR camera if you’re serious about photography. Of course, you can buy a used one to start with. Here are some great reasons why you should buy a used DSLR.
The same goes for lenses too. Again, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to buy a super zoom or ultra wide angle lens. The 50mm lens is a great all-around lens, perfect for the outdoors.
3. Find a variety of topics
The beauty of nature photography is that you can start out as a general nature photographer and then transition into specialized fields like landscape, macro, and wildlife photography.
When you are in nature, look for different types of subjects such as flowers, birds, insects, animals, and landscapes. If you work with several themes, you will soon find a favorite. You can then invest in a specific item, such as a macro or telephoto lens, depending on your subject.
4. Know when to go out
If you know the basics of nature photography, you may have heard about the beauty of blue hour photography and golden hour photography. While it’s true that your chances of capturing beautiful landscapes, flowers, and animals are greatest at dawn and dusk, midday is when insects are active.
So, choose the time depending on your theme. Bring enough water and snacks so you have the flexibility to stay longer if needed.
5. Learn various composition techniques
How you compose your scene can make routine landscape or flower photography stand out. So take some time to learn basic composition techniques like the rule of thirds, leading lines, symmetry, and the golden ratio.
Adding layers to your composition can give your photos depth and dimension. For example, separate your scene into three sections, foreground, middle ground, and background. And find visual interest in the three sections to take stunning photos.
Feel free to add a human element to make your composition more powerful.
6. Try different camera settings
Do you prefer automatic mode on your camera? While auto mode is fine when you’re a complete beginner, you’ll miss it if you continue to use it. For example, if you want dreamy, smooth bokeh, you should use other camera modes.
For starters, try the Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes. Then slowly transition into manual mode, where all the fun is.
7. Go on trails
Trying to take pictures in your neighborhood parks can quickly get boring. So find a nearby national park to hit the trails. Going to new places will help you see things differently and come back with lots of photos.
Remember to download the official park app or try the AllTrails app. These apps will have maps of the trails near you, so you don’t get lost in the woods. This is very important, especially if you go alone.
It is also essential to follow the park rules and adhere to the leave no trace policy.
8. Dress for success
You have to feel comfortable when you are out and shooting. It’s a good idea to dress in layers, so you can easily add or remove them. Wear proper walking shoes and bring a hat or cap, depending on the weather.
Be careful in cold weather: remember to keep your hands warm. Carry waterproof bags when you are in the snow or rain.
9. Practice, practice, practice
Regular practice is one of the key things that will make you a confident photographer. Do not give up even if your photos are not up to par. Try to take as many photos as possible and understand what worked and what didn’t.
You can also do a photography challenge: a 360-day challenge, taking photos based on colors or themes, etc. Also, join a photography club or forum to learn tips and tricks.
Contributing to a stock photo website is also a great way to improve your photography. You may not make any money right away, but the review process will help you understand the technical requirements of a good photo.
10. Master basic photo editing
This step is non-negotiable. You may not be ready to invest in photo editing software as a beginner photographer. But, you have to edit your photos to get a polished look. Watch YouTube tutorials and try free software like Gimp or Apple Photos to get started. Editing is sure to take your photos to the next level.
And get used to shooting in RAW so you can have full control over your editing. In case you don’t know, here is the difference between RAW and JPEG images.
Develop your photographic eye with nature photography
Nature photography is fun, accessible, and doesn’t require expensive equipment. Plus, spending time outdoors is good for your body and mind.
You can start with it right away. Turn it into an excuse to spend more time outdoors.