Five Tips for Taking a GREAT Nature Photograph: Revisited - Ld

Five Tips for Taking a GREAT Nature Photograph: Revisited

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Did you get out and take any pictures? Since spring is (supposedly) coming/here, I hope you are getting out and taking pictures of all the signs of spring! I saw my first flowers on Saturday, but I was running and didn’t have my camera. That being said, I was EXTREMELY excited. Here in Minnesota, our weekly forecast of rain and…..snow……………………………………….

But, on the bright side, all this rain should really green things up, and hopefully encourage beautiful flowers to grow. I’m getting SUPER antsy for flowers! Also for my vegetable garden. But that’s another story.

Anyway. What were we talking about? Oh, right. We have a blog post to get to!

I’m going to make a HUGE assumption based on my educational background and without any research, which I know is dangerous (yes I know what happens when someone assumes). But I don’t care and am going to do it anyway. I’m going to assume that other places are further along in their spring and are enjoying some beautiful spring flowers and trees and more. Because of that, and because I know that someday soon us Minnesotans will too be able to experience these things, I wanted to revisit the very first series I blogged about. I also thought it was worth revisiting because if you’re like me, you need to see and review things more than once for it to really stick. For example, it’s the morning of a huge test. 50% of your final grade. You’re sitting in the student lounge cramming for said test. You may remember the material during the test, but literally as you’re taking the test you can feel the information flowing out of your brain. This is kind of like that, but without the test. And mom, if you’re reading this, I of course, NEVER did that. I just hear things.

Five Tips for Taking a GREAT Nature Photograph: Revisited* (In no particular order)

*To view the original post, click on the green text that is the title of each tip

1. Pay attention to your light source

 When taking a picture of a subject, whether it is a flower, tree, person, animal, etc., you need to make sure that you are paying attention to where your source of light is and use it to your advantage. What does that mean? I’ll explain. Do you want the subject backlit, as in the picture of the coneflower below?

Do you want the subject highlighted in light as in the gerbera daisy picture below?

Play around with different angles and don’t be afraid to get a little dirty to get the angle you want. Yes,  it’s OK and you SHOULDN’T be afraid to sit, lay, crouch, etc. on the ground.

2. Check your horizon

This one is pretty self explanatory. Make sure when you are taking a picture that your horizon is straight. I constantly have to stop myself to check this, so don’t feel bad if you do too. You can eyeball it, but most cameras have grids on them to help with making sure your horizon is straight, and also to help set up your composition for the rule of thirds.

If you forget to check, get home, and realize all your pictures are crooked, you CAN edit the horizon in most photo editing software.

3. Watch for unwanted objects 

AKA - watch for photo-bombers!

Before you hit the shutter button to take a photograph, quickly scan your screen and/or viewfinder to see if there are any unwanted objects in the photos. Often times I find it’s just a matter of taking a couple steps over, or crouching down a little bit farther in order to avoid said objects.

Yes, you can often times crop out unwanted objects, or remove them via a photo editing software, but you should get in the habit of setting up a picture before hand versus relying on photo editing software.

4. Ask yourself: What do you REALLY want in your photograph?

This topic seems similar to the previous tip, but I promise, it is different. I challenge you to ask yourself what you REALLY want in your photograph. Let me give you an example. I was taking pictures of alpacas, and came across this particular one (pictured below) who had been grazing on grass which happened to be wet.

When he lifted his head, there was dew all over his nose. I knew I wanted to capture the dew, so in order to do that I had to ask myself how to set up the photograph in order to get that. In order to do that, I had to get close. If I were to take the same picture far away, or tried to get his whole body in the frame, I wouldn’t have been able to capture the wet nose.

When taking a picture, question what you really want in the photograph. Is it a field of flowers? Is it one particular flower? Is it one particular petal of a particular flower? Be sure to keep the focus on what you want. I promise by asking yourself this you’ll start creating some amazing photographs.

Don't be afraid to GET CLOSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5. Consider using tools other than your camera

Your camera is obviously the most important tool when taking photographs. That being said, there are a number of other tools that can help you achieve stunning photos. I’m not advocating that you have to go out and buy all these products; only saying that if you’re experiencing common issues (such as not enough light, camera shaking, etc), certain products can be beneficial.

***I will briefly touch on two of the products NOT listed in the picture above. For a more in depth explanation on the items listed above, visit this post.

A tripod is an amazing tool to help reduce camera shakiness (a somewhat technical term) and in low lighting situations. There are all sorts of tripods on the market, including free standing, table top, monopods, and more. I know has a great selection. I use one similar to this. I also have another larger one that I use. 

A light reflector and diffuser is another great product. A light reflector can help in low light situations by reflecting the light onto your subject. You can buy actual reflectors or you can use a piece of white tagboard/foamcore, or I’ve also seen people wrap tin foil around a piece of cardboard. Pinterest has a lot of ideas for DIY reflectors. 

A diffuser is for situations when your subject is in direct sunlight. The diffuser usually is white in color, and allows the light to go through while giving you a cover from the harsh sunlight. You can also use a diffuser to bounce your flash around (such as in a portrait studio) if you so choose. Again, Pinterest has a lot of DIY posts on diffusers; I’ve also seen people use a white umbrella or just buy a diffuser.

I have a reflector/diffuser in one. See it here.

The takeaway:

1. Pay attention to your light source

2. Check your horizon

3. Watch for unwanted objects

4. Ask yourself: What do you REALLY want in your photograph?  

5. Consider using tools other than your camera

If you are looking to learn even more about how to set up a great nature photograph, check out my posts on photography composition & the rule of thirds, white balance,  shutter speed and depth of field. Be sure to check back often as future topics will include ISO, exposure & aperature, basic photo editing in free software, and more!

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Happy Photographing!