Nature photography encompasses a wide spectrum of subjects and sceneries. For the beginning photographer, tackling all of the photographic principles that nature photography requires can be quite overwhelming. Therefore I usually recommend mastering nature photography one principle at a time. Through a gradual approach, you will develop your skills properly and will soon feel at ease with the challenges that nature photography throws at you.
Composition in Nature
All photography captures a moment in time. At best, we hope to capture not just an image but a moment, an atmosphere, an expression, an emotion. In photography, especially nature photography, you can not always control your subject. The thing that you are trying to photograph could just fly off or run away. This often puts you in a position where you have to think on your feet, and be quick to compose your picture and take your shot. A photographer can only do this when they have a well-rounded understanding of photography and its principles. At best, a photographer needs to quickly assess and adjust their camera for:
– Adequate Lighting
– Optimal Color
– Their chosen Depth of Field
– Correct Shutter Speed
– Accurate Focus
Capturing Color through Lighting
Nature is filled with all sorts of interesting colors, shades and shapes. Nature itself is like a perfect painting with a natural color scheme that can be vibrant and captivating. To fully capture color and convey it in your photos requires adequate lighting. In nature you can not always control lighting. One way that you can work around this is by understanding how to counter bad lighting through a lower f-stop setting and a quick shutter speed. This work-around can not be used in all situations, it can not be used to solve major lighting issues but it can help you out with minor lighting problems.
Focus your Lens on the Eyes
To capture the emotion and the expression of any animal that you are shooting, just as with photographing people, always make sure you get their eyes in focus. This is the priority. In addition to this, in nature, many animals, birds and even plants find ways to be inconspicuous and blend in with their environment. This a self-preservation instinct and it can at times make the photographer’s job a bit more challenging. You will be tasked with photographing your subjects in a way that distinguishes them from, and brings them out of, the background. Using a low f-stop will help you to accomplish this.
To capture animals in movement, you must use a very fast shutter speed. Your challenge with movement is to combine all of the skills mentioned
above while using the correct shutter speed, accurate focus and good composition. There are many skills that you will need to employ all at the same time:
- F-stop settings and depth of field choices
- Adequate lighting or shutter speed changes
- Knowing where to focus (usually the eyes for animals)
Taking photographs in a natural environment offers you a world of photographic opportunities. It also poses many unexpected challenges. Once you have learned all of the skills and the principles above, the important thing is to go out and do photography. On photo shoots, snap as many photos as you can afford to. Never underestimate the power of chance photos. Sometimes as photographers we aim for a specific shot but end up with something completely different yet equally exciting. Have fun and give yourself room to take chance photos. Enjoy what you do. Like me, you will probably find that the more relaxed you are and the more fun you have while working, the better your photos will be.
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