The natural world is vast in its wonderment and beauty — from sprawled meadows of wildflowers and giant and jagged mountain terrains to majestic wildlife and infinitesimal insects. Nature is the perfect playground for an impassioned photographer. Each variety of nature photography requires the use of assorted gear and distinct techniques. Here is a list of sub-genres within the realm of nature photography, accompanied with various tips and techniques that will help you showcase the magnificent marvels of the natural world.
Landscape photos rely heavily on proper lighting, as there are many details that may become lost without decent lighting exposure. You will find the best quality of light in the early morning or late afternoons. These are the time periods when the sun is closest to the horizon and will provide ample illumination. Composition is another element of landscape photography that is key for the creation of an outstanding photograph.
Rely on the rule of thirds as you set the composition of your photo and place areas of interest at an offset focal point. Photos of vast landscapes oftentimes feel flat and lack depth. Keep in mind the foreground and compose your shot with multiple focal points that provide a greater depth of field. A rule of thumb is, the smaller the aperture, the more extensive the depth of field. Set your aperture between f/11 and f/16 for a sharper look that will diffract the image and lend it depth. Filters are helpful in landscape photography, especially polarizing filters (the polarization of the lens will eliminate reflections and glare, and increase the color saturation, density and contrast).
Flowers are extensively intricate plant species that are wonderful subjects for nature photography. To capture the distinct creases of the flower petals or the textured pistons, your camera must remain very still and steady. Mount your camera onto a tripod and invest in a remote or cable release for your shutter. Use a wide-angle lens for a shot of a garden or patch of plant life. Opt for a telephoto lens for shots of an individual flower. This lens allows for a wider range of aperture, where the foreground and background will yield its sharpness and focus to the flower subject. Before you head out into nature, take some practice photos on floral arrangements in your home and experiment with the lenses. Set your ISO at 100 or 200; this will minimize image noise and increase your image quality.
Macro photographs capture the tiny details of nature that one is unable to see with the naked human eye. Macro photography techniques and tools are generally used to capture insects, raindrops and micro plant life. Use a macro lens when you shoot small-subjects and set your camera’s settings at manual focus. The automatic focus reacts too slowly and often isn’t precise in its focus on your desired focal point. Utilization of flash will enable a sharp image capture at a high aperture. The exposure provided by a ring flash or twin lite flash is sufficient for a sharp focal point and an unrestricted depth of field. Angle your shot, so your subject is framed and brightly lit in front of a dark background — the subjects details will stand out from the under-exposed background. Extension tubes are oftentimes used for macro photographs of water droplets. The tube sits between your camera’s body and the lens, which increases the effective aperture of the camera lens for an incredibly up-close shot.
Animals are best photographed in natural light since the flash may cause red-eye and also frighten the animal. The eyes of the animal should be sharp as they are one of the more expressive elements of the image. Be prepared for sudden movement. Set your camera to an automatic ‘sports mode’ for a fast shutter speed that will allow you to capture the action. Burst mode shooting will take a continuous sequence of shots, which will provide you with a wonderful series that can be converted into a stop motion. It is important that your patience remains intact as you photograph your wild subject. Spend time with the subject and anticipate movement for fantastic photographs.