When it comes to photography there are many different types. Almost every individual that goes to school for art (myself included) is required to take at least one photography class. The reason for this is whether you’re majoring in fine art or digital art, the ability to create a visual layout and capture that on film or digital is crucial for your craft. While the invention of digital photography has expanded the number of people who participate in the hobby/profession, there are still a number of things that you need to perfect in order to transform yourself from just someone who clicks a button to someone who can confidently be called a photographer. Nature Photography is a great place to start if you’re interested in the art of photography. Whether you’re interested in taking landscapes, wildlife, flowers, or macro photographs. Here are some tips to get you started on how to take awe-inspiring photographs!
Nature Photography: Background
Nature photography overlaps the fields of Wildlife Photography, Landscape Photography, and garden photography. Most notable photographers that are considered to be a part of this category include Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter, Frans Lanting, and Art Wolfe.
The reason that this particular category is such a great one for individuals just beginning is that all you really need is a camera to get started, Most phone cameras nowadays are just as nice as a basic DSLR camera and can allow you to begin right in your backyard. When it comes to photography, focus on the Three L’s: Lens, Lights, and Layout.
While you can definitely take this L as the physical lens that professional photographers use. The idea of Lens is more so setting up your lens/camera so that it results in the focus you’re trying to achieve. If you’re wanting to capture the texture of cave walls or bark on a tree or a bee inside of a flower you’re better off setting up your camera to either in macro setting or changing the zoom so that the everything around your focus is blurred leading the viewer’s eye to your intended subject. On the other hand, if you’re wanting to capture a seascape or clouds on a lake you’re going to want more of a wider lens approach so that everything is in focus and creating a photo that takes the viewer’s breath away with just how much beauty you were able to capture.
Light is probably one of the most important elements of photography, especially nature photography. Capturing the light in the scene can change the overall feeling from happy, to sad, to even in some cases, eerie. While some lighting can be fixed using photo editing software there is only so much that you are able to adjust. If you are utilizing film, there is even less than you can adjust in the dark room since you don’t see the results until you go to print. You’re better off focusing on getting the light correct in the shot than relying on photo editing software.
You can also utilize the lack of light in combination with a tripod to create images similar to the winner of our 2022 nature photography contest.
Seth Reiner took this in Spitzkoppe, a wilderness area of ancient granite mountains in the Namib desert. This is 220 images combined over 3 hours of stars moving in a circular pattern around the southern cross.
The layout of an image is quite possibly the most important part of photography. You can adjust both lens and light using a photo editing program. There isn’t much that can be done after the fact to adjust a poor layout aside from cropping but even that is limited. A photograph can be cropped to adjust its layout but you are still limited. There are two different techniques to accomplish a well-laid-out photo: Rules of Three or The Fibonacci/Golden Spiral.
To utilize the rule of thirds you will divide your shot evenly into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. The intended subject of your photo should fall along the intersection of lines. When it comes to landscape photography you can take the approach of splitting the area up by “landmarks” In the above example the bottom features grass followed by the middle of the tree reflection and finally finished with the trees. This brings your eye directly into the center area of focus.
Some photographers however are adamant that there isn’t a layout that captures the eye quite like the Fibonacci Spiral. Ansel Adams is one of the most famous photographers to utilize it. The Fibonacci Spiral (Sometimes referred to as Golden Ratio or Golden Spiral) is built from a series of squares that are based on the Fibonacci numbers ( the length of every square is equal to a Fibonacci number. When placed within one another it creates a pattern. The curve of it leads your eye around the photograph. One of the reasons that this particular ratio is so popular is that the ratio itself is naturally occurring within the elements of nature
The Final Element
The final element of all nature photographs is of course how you finish them. Sure, you can just print them off or upload them to a digital album but our favorite way to really showcase these awe-inspiring photographs is of course by framing them!