Taking photos of nature, whether it’s landscapes, animals or plants can result in incredible results. You may want to capture the grace of a passing bird in the sky, or the setting sun over the sapphire ocean. Perhaps a quiet close-up shot of a flower you come across or a waterfall in the morning light. These photos can evoke memories, feelings of peace and beauty that inspire us so it’s not surprising that many want to try their hand at nature photography. Nature presents itself all around us in so many different forms, that the opportunities are endless to capture a beautiful nature image.
With a smartphone, you have an advantage in some ways as it avoids carrying around a hefty SLR. What’s more with something smaller you can get closer to your subject without being noticed.
However, nature photography can be challenging. It’s easy to produce a mediocre photo when with a few tweaks and a bit more knowledge you can create something far more impressive. Here are some tips to help you along the way as you capture those beautiful moments that arise in nature…
Know Your Rule Of Thirds
You may have heard of this photographic concept before. If not it is important to know so that your photos are composed well.
Imagine the viewfinder or screen is divided into nine equal squares. Use the lines created as a guideline as to where you place the most important elements. You want the focal points of your image to rest on the two vertical lines. You should ensure the horizon line sits in the lower third of the image.
People argue this rule leads to more intriguing photos that possess more energy and tension. Avoid placing your subject in the center of your photo when photographing nature. Placing your subject on one of the lines to the left or right is far more pleasing to the eye.
Keep Those Horizons Straight
Following on from the first tip, there is nothing worse than a landscape shot with a wonky horizon line. Make sure you align the horizon line - whether it be the sea or a mountain range - with the bottom of your screen. You may think this can just be done with editing afterward, but this means you can lose information. When cropping you lose not just what there was in the photo but also some of the image resolutions.
Foreground As Well As Background
Again here we are talking about landscape shots. When taking a photo of the view in front of you, often the result can seem a little flat. Often our cameras can’t quite capture what we see with our eyes. To create an image with more depth and intrigue, ensure you have both something in both the background and the foreground. You can still take that photo of those rolling hills, but include a tree or a tuft of grass in the foreground to give the viewer a better perspective if it seems a little flat. This will bring your photo to life.
Experiment With Vertical Format
Often you can create a more unique and curious photo by turning your camera or smartphone vertical, even when taking landscapes. This can create greater layers as well as honing in on the details you want to focus on. Play with the different formats and see which one gives you the image that evokes the feelings you want.
Early Or Late in The Day
This is important if you want to catch the most flattering and beautiful light during the day. You’re also less likely to have company if you get up before sunrise, having the place all to yourself. Yet at these times, your likeliness of seeing wildlife is far greater. Animals tend to be more active early in the morning and at dusk. Aim for these moments in the day if wildlife is your interest.
This may seem obvious, but keeping quiet and blending in with your environment will benefit you greatly. Wild animals can be very timid and you stomping around will not only disrupt their peace, and the general tranquility of the place.
Focus On The Eye Of The Animal
Taking photos of animals can be very challenging, especially when they are fast moving. However, if you can find that moment when they still make sure you focus on the area around their eye before taking the photo. This will ensure the animal isn’t blurry in the final result.
If you follow the rule of thirds, you must focus on the eye before sliding the lens slightly to the left or right so that your subject is not in the centre.
Check The Background
Again, another simple tip but look at what lies in the background of your shot before taking the photo. The most beautiful nature photos can be ruined by a telegraph pole or an oblivious tourist present in the background. Move around a bit before photographing to ensure there are no distractions in the background.
Isolate Your Subject
At some point, you may have the opportunity to take a photo of a rare animal or flower. Unless you take a close-up so there is no background, be aware of what is behind the subject. Ensure the background is a contrasting color so that the creature or plant doesn’t blend into its surroundings. Nor do you want a busy background to distract from the main event. You may think in some circumstances this is impossible to do. However, by changing the angle, getting down low or standing on tiptoes, your perspective can change entirely and so does the background. Walk around your subject to see which angle is most suitable. If you are focusing on only flora, bring a black piece of paper that you can position behind the flower so that it is completely isolated.
Look For Details
Remember nature photography isn’t just about vast landscape shots or capturing rare animals. Taking time to look at the little things around you can result in photos just as beautiful and effective. The patterns on a leaf or the reflection in a lake can often say more than a sunset image. Train your eye to see different textures and colours in nature and hone in on these features to create something special.
There is no harm in exploring and experimenting with the surroundings you find yourself in. Involve yourself, move around and change your perspective to create images that’ll leave a lasting impression.