Did you know that June 15th is National Nature Photography Day? Today is the day to not only hug a tree….today is the day to photograph it!
The North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), which established National Nature Photography Day in 2006, encourages everyone to do some of these things on June 15:
- • Get your camera out and visit a park – even if it’s just 10 minutes at lunch time
- • Learn about and photograph a species of plant or animal that is native to your region.
- • Teach a child how to take a picture of flowers or trees in the backyard.
- • Read about the life of a famous nature photographer, such as Ansel Adams. (Or you can count reading this blog post as part of your National Nature Photography Day homework)
- Lighting is everything! It is generally recommended that the best times to capture outdoor pictures (both those of nature and those of people in nature) are the approximately 3 hours surrounding sunrise as well as the hours surrounding sunset. The typical hours of “running around as tourist” are between 10 and 5, and are some of the worst times in terms of lighting to take pictures. The sun creates contrasty images and shadows that are often undesirable.
- Your digital camera’s worst enemies are dust, sand, water and extreme temperatures. Avoid them!
- Pick your subject and focus on that. Is it a person outside, a flower, or maybe a landscape? Make sure that your main subject is not only prominent but in clear focus. Landscape shots typically look better with an extended depth of field, but close ups of flowers are more appealing with a shallow depth of field. Not sure about those terms? Check out my tutorial on Aperture.
- Try different viewpoints and angles. Stand in the same spot and rotate your perspective. Stand up high or crouch down. Sometimes the scene changes drastically as you change your point of view.
- Use the flash in back lit conditions outside (in other words, when the sky is very bright in the background) or when the there are many shadows. Use the built-in flash on your camera to fill in the shadows.
- Eliminate distractions around your subject. Be aware of the other objects, people, shadows, toys, etc. in the frame and either move them, move the subject, or move yourself!
- Not every landscape photo looks best in landscape mode. Try rotating your camera and taking a few pictures in portrait mode.
- Many outdoor photos require a tripod, especially when you are taking an extreme close-up (macro shot) of a flower or bug (etc). Don’t have a tripod? Make yourself into a tripod by holding your elbows close in to your body and leaning against a tree, railing, or building (if standing)…or if you are sitting, rest your elbows on your knees to create a triangle of sorts with your arms and the camera.
- Be in the right place at the right time. Sometimes it all comes down to being ready. Nature is unpredictable, and some of the best nature shots are the ones that nobody planned.
- What is the most important part of a nature photo? The person behind the camera. Cameras are not creative. A picture taken with a cheap point and shoot camera by a person who knows a little about composition will look better than a picture taken with an expensive SLR by a person with no sense of creativity.
Do you have any outdoor photography tips that you’d like to share?
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