Explore the world around you and begin the internal and external journey through the magic of nature photography.
We love bringing nature into your homes; we also know that we can't get enough of the outdoors like us. So whether you are a freelance photographer or a weekend adventurer, we have shared 5 tips to help you explore Nature Photography:
Anticipate your time of day, your location, and your subject.
Getting to know your terrain beforehand may not always be possible if you are a budding explorer. However, knowing ahead of time the weather forecast is essential. You don't want to be stuck out in the rain without the proper gear or in the blazing hot sun with no wind. A hat and waterproof protection for your precious photography gear go a long way: rain or shine.
You will need to charge your batteries the night before, set your alarm earlier than usual (as we all know, morning light is the best for photos), and bring extra storage cards just in case you may end up capturing more than you anticipated.
Know your route; to conserve the beauty of nature, consider what parts of the terrain are off-limits during what season. You may end up trampling or disrupting growing plants or flowers; respecting nature all while capturing its essence is a balance.
What's the right equipment?
There are different lenses for capturing a variety of elements in nature. The equipment you purchase will speak to your budget and your level of hobby or expertise; however, the fundamental lenses commonly used are as follows.
These five lenses or angles of view can be broken down into their subject of focus:
- 16mm: gives you an extensive view where everything is in focus and ideal for landscape.
- 35mm: is a wide lens but similar to your smartphone lens, so everything is pretty much in focus unless your subject is very close to you—ideal for shots of the street or where you would typically use your camera phone.
- 50mm: this is our lens, the way we see the world through our eyes. It can adjust to short or deep focus modes.
- 85mm: the classic portrait focal length. You can isolate subjects from the background. As a result, it appears closer than it is.
- 200mm: this is your magnifying lens, used mainly for nature photographs where you are far away but need to get in close.
Depending on your subject, understanding which lens can either get you closer or paint a large picture.
You might also want to consider investing in a multidimensional lens depending on your camera. So you have the one lens that can do it all, let's say if you're off on a hike or day adventuring and do not want a lot of equipment to worry about.
How to Use Natural Light
Early morning or dusk is the ideal lighting for any photographer. The mid-day sun can be harsh with top downlight and casts weird hard-to-control shadows. Planning your shoots for those peak times will get you your best shots.
You will want to anticipate the light, know where the sun is, and be intentional about its best use. So you will always be deciding what kind of shot you will take based on the type of lighting you are dealing with. If the light is soft, you have an easier time with shadows. They are not as pronounced and don't cast a lot of darkness on your subject; with hard lighting, it's very edgy and gives full sun exposure to your image. You can have fun with this predominant shadow by playing with exposure.
Lastly, know the direction of the light. Top, side, under, or backlight can alter your subject dramatically. For portraiture, front lighting is ideal as it's the most flattering, whereas top lighting or under lighting can distort your subject by casting dark shadows and create an unflattering illusion. Be keen on knowing where the light is coming from and alter or pivot your shot when needed.
Rule of Thirds
In any image, your eye is naturally drawn to 4 main focal points. These can be divided into 9 squares, with two intersecting lines x 2 vertical and x 2 horizontal. Where these lines intersect is where your eye will focus. The idea being, when you are setting up your shot, your subject is best to fall into one of these intersecting lines. If your subject is a head-on portrait, your subject will naturally be the center of the shot, where the four lines intersect. Try drawing it out on a piece of paper to get the picture.
Know Your Subject, Small or Large in Scale?
Large sweeping vistas and landscapes can be the most pleasing to capture but can also be left a little blank if you have not creatively captured a part of the image that tells a story. Without a central focal point in a landscape, the eye does not stay captured on the image for long. The job of the photographer is to make this beautiful landscape makes sense, not random. Focusing or pinpointing in on a particular element within your landscape will give it depth and interest—a great time to use the rule of thirds.
The extensive world of tiny details in nature. Zone in on the tiny details for the largest impact when exploring small-scale photography in nature. It’s truly revealing what you can find with a bit of patience and dedicated time. Graphic, contrasting, or abstract imagery is the best practice for composing your small-scale imagery. A tripod can be your best friend here, as you may need to zoom in and keep the camera as still as possible to get the result you are after. But let nature do the work by allowing it to work on you. Cast a small net, and wait to see what evolves out of this dedicated time. It's all in the details here.
From lenses to exposure time to the best camera equipment, nature photography can be a lifelong investment, hobby, or passion project. You are cultivating your love of all things found in the natural world. Whether your a weekend explorer snapping fun photos on your phone or serious about climbing that hill to find the best shot, we have nurtured the same passion for nature photography as you. For all of its healing benefits and stress-reduction, Pristine Images has captured the essence of nature and created the most beautiful canvas portraits for every nature lover.