How to start nature photography: 10 top tips


Nature photography is probably the most effortless type of photography to start with. Chances are, you’re already a nature photographer. Have you ever photographed a floral or nature scene? Then you have already tried nature photography.

Anyone can take a picture of nature, but it takes hard work and courage to stand out. You should learn more about nature, get comfortable with your equipment and be willing to try different techniques. In addition, you should not be afraid of failure.

Here are our tips for stunning nature photos.

1. Learn more about the world around you

If you choose nature photography because you can photograph random flowers and plants, think again. To be a successful wildlife photographer, you have to be an expert in what you’re photographing. So take the time to learn more about the flora and fauna in your neighborhood.

With nature apps like iNaturalist or PictureThis, learning about nature is not very difficult. With these apps you can identify plants and organisms. Then you can research more about them and know their behavior and habits.

This exercise will help you understand the best seasons and times to find a specific flower, plant, or animal.

2. Start with inexpensive equipment

When you’re not getting beautiful nature photos, it’s easy to blame your camera’s limitations. But the truth is, you don’t need fancy gear to take nature photos. If anything, things like composition or time of day are more important.

Your iPhone or smartphone is a great tool for photographing the great outdoors. However, consider investing in a mirrorless or DSLR camera if you are serious about photography. Of course you can also buy used. Here are some good reasons why you should buy a used DSLR.

The same applies to lenses. Again, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to buy a superzoom or ultrawide lens. The 50mm lens is an excellent all-round lens, perfect for nature.

3. Find a variety of topics

The beauty of nature photography is that you can start out as a general nature photographer and then move into more specialized fields like landscape, macro, and wildlife photography.

When you are out in nature, look for different types of subjects like flowers, birds, bugs, animals, and landscapes. If you work with different themes, you will quickly find a favorite. Then, depending on your subject, you can invest in a specific item like a macro or telephoto lens.

4. Know when to go out

If you know the basics of nature photography, you may have heard about the beauty of blue hour and golden hour photography. While it’s true that your chance of capturing beautiful landscapes, flowers and animals is higher at dawn and dusk, insects are more active at midday.

So choose the time depending on your topic. Bring enough water and snacks to give you the flexibility to stay longer if needed.

5. Learn different compositional techniques

The way you compose your scene can make the routine landscape or floral photo stand out. So take some time to learn basic compositional techniques like the rule of thirds, leading lines, symmetry, and the golden ratio.

Adding layers to your composition can add depth and dimension to your photos. For example, divide your scene into three sections, foreground, middle ground, and background. And find visual interests in the three sections to take impressive photos.

Feel free to add a human element to make your composition more powerful.

6. Try different camera settings

Do you prefer the automatic mode of your camera? While automatic mode is fine if you’re a complete beginner, you’ll miss out if you keep using it. For example, if you want soft, dreamy bokeh, you’ll need to use other camera modes.

Try Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes first. Then slowly switch to manual mode, which is where all the fun is.

7. Walk on trails

Trying to take pictures in your neighborhood’s parks can quickly become tedious. So find a national park nearby to go on hiking trails. When you go to new places you will see things differently and come back with lots of photos.

Remember to download the park’s official app or try the AllTrails app. These apps contain maps of hiking trails near you so you don’t get lost in the woods. This is very important, especially if you are traveling alone.

It is also important to follow park rules and adhere to the Leave No Trace policy.

8. Dress for success

You have to feel comfortable when taking photos. It’s a good idea to dress in layers so you can easily add or remove them. Wear appropriate walking shoes and wear a hat or cap, depending on the weather.

Be careful in cold weather – remember to keep your hands warm. Carry waterproof bags when out in the snow or rain.

9. Practice, practice, practice

Regular practice is one of the most important things that will make you a confident photographer. Don’t give up even if your photos don’t meet the requirements. Try to take as many pictures as possible and understand what worked and what didn’t.

You can also do a photo challenge – a 360 day challenge where you take photos based on color or theme and so on. Also, join a photography club or forum for tips and tricks.

Contributing to a stock photo website is also a great way to improve your photography. You may not make money right away, but the review process will help you understand the technical requirements of a good photo.

10. Master basic photo editing

This step is non-negotiable. As a beginner, you may not be ready to invest in photo editing software. However, you need to edit your photos to get a polished look. Watch YouTube tutorials and try free software like Gimp or Apple Photos to get started. Editing is sure to take your photos to the next level.

And make it a habit to shoot in RAW so you have complete editing control. In case you don’t know, here is the difference between RAW and JPEG images.

Develop your photographic eye with nature photography

Nature photography is fun, accessible and doesn’t require expensive equipment. In addition, being outdoors is good for the body and mind.

You can start using it immediately. Make it an excuse to spend more time outside.


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