Even the most high-end digital camera is, to some degree, only as good as the person taking the photos. While high end cameras can do some things to help you get great photos, getting consistently great photos generally takes a lot of skill and practice. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some tips and tricks that can also help you on your way to getting great photos every time. If you have a passion for the beauty and splendor of nature, here are 7 tips for capturing beautiful nature photography.
1. Use Lens Accessories for Delicate Details
One of the most beautiful aspects of nature is often the stunning detail, such as brilliant red veins running through a crisp green leaf or the morning dew glistening on a delicate spider web. If you want to capture all of the tiniest, richest details that nature has to offer, use an accessory lens to help you get microscopic closeups. Accessory lenses are even available for most smartphones these days.
2. Play with Light
In photography, roughly the hour right after sunrise and just before sunset are often referred to as “golden hours.” During this time, you get a soft, glowy light that can add beautiful richness to your photos. Even when the sun is high, however, you can get some interested effects as long as you don’t shoot directly into the sun.
3. Play with Shadows
The best photos have something often referred to as “texture.” This is generally the interplay between light and dark or light and shadow. You can create shadows with a simple umbrella or direct soft light with a large sheet of white foam board, sometimes called a bounce card.
4. Use Burst Mode
When you are shooting animals, bugs or anything that moves, they can sometimes do the unexpected. You can capture unexpected movement by using burst mode. Burst mode works almost like a video camera but will shoot dozens of photos in a single second. You might be surprised by a spectacular photo of a butterfly taking flight or even an unexpected hummingbird landing on the flower you were shooting.
5. Change Perspective
Most people are used to taking photos by pointing their camera straight at what they want to shoot and centering it in the frame. The most interesting photos, however, often come from getting down on your knees (or using a low tripod) and shooting upwards at your subject or from high above it. Play with taking shots from different angles and perspectives for the most interesting composition.
6. Play with Framing
Some of the most stunning photos also rarely have the subject right straight in the center. Photography actually operates on something called the “rule of thirds.” Most often, you want your primary subject or the heaviest object in the photo to be in the left or right third of the photo or the top or bottom third, rather than dead center.
7. Use Photo Editing Software
Even the most professional photographers will spend hours tweaking, toning and honing their images to perfection. Editing software can help create greater contrast between darks and lights, add rich golden hues or smoky pinks and oranges to sunrises and sunsets or bring out the richest hues in leaves, flowers or other foliage. The best part about today’s editing software is that it is none-destructive. It adds any changes you make in layers, so if you don’t like the change, you can just delete the layer or layers or start all over with your original photo.
Like everything in life, practice makes perfect. The biggest key to getting stunning nature photos is just to practice, practice, practice. Play with light and perspective and always be trying something new. Over time, you will develop a “feel” for what works and what doesn’t. The best part about digital photography, is that it doesn’t cost you any more to shoot 100 photos than it does 10, so shoot away! Even the most professional photographers will shoot hundreds of photos just to get one breathtaking image. Then they will take that image and spend hours fine tuning it with photo editing software. There’s no reason you can’t shoot like a pro – it just takes time and practice.