How To Shoot The Best Nature Photographs

Nature photography is a favorite photographic subject, evoking memories of travel and senses experienced in a particular place and at a particular moment. The natural world offers virtually limitless opportunitites to create great shots. Nature photography can be challenging, so here are some tips whether your shooting at sea, in mountains or in your own backyard:

Notice the small occurrences in nature

When photographing nature, pay attention to the smallest of details. Bring a lens that has a decent zoom (over 50mm) and is capable of focusing close-up or use a macro lens to get great photos of small things. Look for active insects or study patterns in nature on leaves, flowers and trees. Wildlife close-ups are better if there’s a catch light in the eye, so shoot when the animal is facing the sun. When photographing wildlife, use a shallow depth of field for close-ups to blur out background distractions.

Look all around you

Focus not just on what is in front of you. Look up, down and all around you. Look up and take photographs of the tree canopy. Look down onto your subject too for an interesting perspective. Your aim is to show things in nature in ways that most people don’t get to see, or have not considered looking for.

See the Light

Light is the basic force behind all photography. It brings shadows and contrast to your photos as well as illuminating your subject. Using natural light and shadows can add impact to your images and gain powerful compositions. Learn to appreciate overcast days. Don't stay indoors when there's clouds, fog, rain or snow, the diffused light can make for increased color saturation in your images. Incorporate clouds in your shots of other natural scenes. Use a ziplock bag to weatherproof your camera, making a small hole for the lens and use the ziplock to access the shutter and controls.

Pay close attention to the way shadows are cast and create contrast. Direction of light is also very important, and can make a place or object look completely different depending on the angle of the sun. Visit a location more than once, at varying times of day.

Early or late in the day – get out!

If you are searching for good natural light for your photographs, the best times are when the sun rises or sets as raking angles of early or late sun usually reveal texture best. It is at these times that most animals and insects are active too. With a good tripod, you can be set up and be ready when the lighting is right. If you've no tripod, don’t be afraid to handhold at slow shutter speeds. Take advantage of sunsets when photographing wildflowers which glow in the soft, golden light at this time.

Extras

Take an extra memory card and batteries so that you don't miss a great shot. Take a cloth and blower brush to clear rain or dirt from your lens.