Take a step outside to explore the endless variety, changing elements and overpowering splendor of the natural world make its native occupants particularly interesting subjects. But there is something about the escapism of nature that keeps us coming back for more. We explore some of the best ways to get the most from taking a step outside and into, nature.
Light Is Everything
As with most forms of photography, there is plenty of groundwork you can do before heading into the great outdoors to maximize your chances of an impactful shot. The most important, perhaps, is to work out when to set off for your location.
If your an early bird or night owl, nature photography is the one for you. In essence, the idea is to arrive at your destination before the sun appears above the horizon. In so doing, you might witness the warm pre-rise glow, before seeing streaks of bright light breaking through the trees. If you are lucky, you might even have some atmospheric mist to play with. Or staying out past your bedtime you can capture the warm colors of dusk and quite often some beautiful shadows.
Finding natural subjects to photograph is a bit of a lottery. By their very nature, animals move wherever they please and plants grow wherever they seed. There is still some room for pre-planning, though.
Nature reserves are an obvious choice, but if you want to get close to nature, your garden or apartment balcony is the best place to start. Putting out bird food near to your windows will give you an intimate view, while insects can be coaxed closer for by a planted wildflower window box. It is worth looking up any nearby animal sanctuaries, too — you can often get really close to once-wild animals that you might never see in their native environment. Likewise, botanical gardens are great places to take close-ups of rare flowers, and your local camera club should be able to point you in the direction of any wildflower meadows in the vicinity.
For more scenic subjects, Google Maps is your friend. Look for high ridges, streams, lakes, and forests. The guidebooks usually do not cover the most interesting places.
Prepare for Anything
If you plan to use a DSLR when out on a nature-based shoot, it makes sense to take a range of lenses — you could be shooting trees with a wide-angle prime, or zooming in to frame a distant bird. But when venturing into sparsely populated areas, it is also important to prepare your personal kit just as well as you pack your photographic equipment.
Mountainous and coastal areas are particularly changeable, so make sure you always have some insulated, waterproof clothing with you. The weather can be very unpredictable…prepare for everything.
Practice and Patience Make Perfect
One final thing to bear in mind is that the unpredictability and diversity of nature photography can make perfection difficult to achieve. People say, practice makes perfect and in photography it is true. You also need patience because you aren’t always going to have the perfect shot all the time. One day, however, that perfect shot will arrive. Just make sure you are out with your camera when it does.