I love photographing nature. It’s calming, serene and I can always find something that looks cool and different. There is an endless variety of possibilities when it comes to photographing nature. So, where do you start? For me, it was my backyard.
You don’t need a forest preserve or a national park like Yellowstone to find cool nature photograph opportunities. It’s about finding ways to make nature pop out and presenting it in a way that is out of the ordinary or striking to the viewer. I like this type of photography so much, because you can change something ordinary to extraordinary.
Tip 1: Look for Color that POPS
Let’s face it, a lot of natural environments have mostly earthy tones of green and brown. I like to look for pops of color in these environments such as the orange I photographed in my backyard. I could have just shot straight up into the tree with all of the other oranges, but that is being ordinary.
Instead, I walked around until I could find an orange that was still on the tree but isolated from the rest of the budding fruits. By positioning myself below the orange and angled toward the sky, I composed the shot to be framed by the trees and contrasted against the blue sky. The orange really pops out with this technique. I also played with depth-of-field to create a focus on the orange and a blurred background.
Tip 2: Composition
Last week’s blog gave some tips on composition in regards to point-and-shoot photography. The rule-of-thirds and following the horizon line are very important composition techniques that can help make your nature photography have a professional appearance.
Another tip on composition that comes in handy with photographing nature is framing. The term framing is a literal one. When we print photos, a lot of times they go into a frame to better present the photograph. Framing uses objects already existing around your subject to draw more attention to the subject of the photograph.
In this silhouette shot of the sunset, the tree canopy is used as a frame. The sunset is seen through a hole in the trees creating a framing effect.
Tip 3: Lighting
Being outdoors presents a photographer with the best possible lighting. Even cloudy days can give a photograph a cool effect when the clouds diffuse the sunlight.
Have you ever noticed that your pictures from outside tend to look better than those inside? This is another reason I love nature photography. The light possibilities are endless. I find the best light I can get during the day is either between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. or between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. (the times vary slightly depending on daylight savings).
If you want images with high contrast and heavy shadows, shoot in the middle of the day when the sun is highest in the sky emitting the most amount of light. The direct angle of the sun from above creates harsh shadows that can make an interesting composition.
This picture would be boring if it weren’t for the lighting. Because the sunlight was illuminating the leaves it makes them super vibrant in color. They pop out with the contrast the sky blue background provides.
Now that you have some tips, go out in nature, have some fun and get creative with that sunlight.