A Beginner’s Guide to Nature Photography

Ansel Adams: landscape legacy

Do you find yourself obsessively bringing your iPhone everywhere not so you can text friends, but so you can take pictures of nearly everything you see? Do you run outside every time the sunsets to capture the perfect moment and share it with your friends?

Finding your inner photographer is exciting. However, many beginners find themselves overwhelmed with the culture and community that defines photography, especially nature photography. There’s a big history behind it and plenty of professionals who know what they’re talking about.

So what are some things you ought to know once you decide you want to pursue photography as a serious hobby?

  • Megapixels: Starting with a camera between 6 and 8 megapixels is ideal for beginners. It’s easy to be tricked into thinking that more megapixels contributes to higher quality photos, but as long as it’s a high quality camera it is actually more efficient to stay within this range.
  • Digital SLR vs Point and Shoot?: A digital SLR camera is a heftier option that offers more advanced settings, albeit it produces higher quality photos. This isn’t usually the best camera to start with as a complete beginner because it’s a pretty serious investment. Also, it requires a bit of an education to start using that exposure to a basic point-and-shoot digital camera will prepare you for.
  • Camera settings: On your digital camera, play around with the different settings. On most devices, you’ll find macro, landscape, and portrait. Macro is great for getting up, close, and personal with subjects such as flowers and small animals. Landscape settings are capable of capturing a wide image with a faraway subject.

Get to know yourself and your subject.

  • Do you want to photograph flowers and foliage close up with detail? Are you trying to capture animals in their natural habitat? Are you fascinated with massive landscape images of storms, sunsets, mountain ranges? All of these situations require you to use your camera in a different way.

Two components to consider:

Light

  • Learn how to read the light. Shooting directly into the sun (meaning your subject is “backlit)” is generally misguided. You don’t want distracting shadows, extreme contrast, or light in the animal’s eyes.

Composition

  • What’s the best way to frame your photo? While you shouldn’t restrict your creativity to mathematical regiments, there are basic rules that will keep your composition following basic aesthetic guidelines.
  • Rule of Thirds: Draw 4 sets of lines to equally divided your frame into 9 equally sized rectangles. Where the lines intersect, trying placing your subject at the intersecting points.
  • Attract the eye: If the shot is too “busy,” your viewer will ultimately feel distracted and not enjoy your photograph.

I love Steve Coleman’s list of 100 Landscape Photographers Worth Knowing to reference when I need some guidance with my photos and for some inspiration. I hope this guide gets you started! Being able to capture the nature world on film (well, maybe digital..) is an amazing feeling. When you start to realize that these moments on earth only happen once, and that one fleeting moment is yours to cherish, it’s empowering to know you can capture it through photography.

Plus, there’s a big world of photography enthusiasts out there to get you started. Now that digital sharing is so popular (get on Flickr) there’s an active community of photographers who are happy to share their skills with amateurs.


Originally published at brendantaylorfilice.com.

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