When I’m photographing wildlife, plant life, and stunning landscapes, I’m reveling in the thrill of being a nature photographer. The key is to capture a scene that would have otherwise gone unnoticed by the human eye. Spark the viewer’s interest about the infinite beauty of planet Earth.
What Is Nature Photography?
By definition, nature photography is taken outdoors — showcasing natural scenes, landscape textures, and animal interactions with a heavy emphasis on aesthetics. With nature photography, I’m looking to disturb the environment as little as possible by showcasing plants, animals, or landscapes in their natural state.
There is an ethical obligation involved as you attempt to remain unnoticed as the nature photographer. Human elements are not considered a part of nature photography unless, for some reason, they are integral to the story. This also means not using food or scent lures to get an animal to change their behavior for a photo. A photographer should not become part of the story or alter a wild animal’s natural behavior. Observation only.
Capturing Nature Behind The Lens
Nature photography is interesting because of the amount of behind-the-scenes preparation that is involved. Often, I try to align my timing with something unique — like baby animals in the Spring, seasonal migrations, or if a rare plant is flowering in a botanical garden nearby.
The key to this anticipation is being ready to move at a moment’s notice – and then to sit still as possible. Nature photography is appreciated as an art form and loved as a hobby and vocation for this reason: It requires meticulous planning to capture that spontaneous moment.
No matter your natural environment, nature photography awaits you. If you live by the sea, then the coastline offers plenty of choice for animal life and dramatic landscapes, as do mountains for plant life.
Even an urban park can offer joy to passionate photographers. Photograph something beautiful or quirky that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. The world is truly your oyster as a burgeoning nature photographer.
I would recommend focusing on a plant, animal, or landscape that is close by and that you enjoy engaging with anyway – so that your photography is a means to deepen your connection with that species or place.
Pursuing The Art Of Nature Photography
Not everybody loves the amount of time and patience that is required to become a good nature photographer. It’s as if you are spying on nature, but with good intentions. For this, you will most likely want to use a telephoto zoom lens as well as a wide-angle zoom lens.
With a tripod and a comfy stool or cushion, I can now sit for hours, well-situated for potential action, finger at the ready to get my shot. It’s also important to dress for the occasion. If you’re trying to photograph birds and wildlife in their natural habitat, avoid wearing bold colors that may scare them away like reds and oranges. Try to wear more muted browns and greens, or even consider buying camouflage clothing. Just be sure you aren’t trying to take pictures where others may also be hunting wildlife and take the proper safety precautions.
Tips and Techniques
When photographing animals, the most important thing is to ensure that the subject’s eye is in focus. That is where the viewer will look first. If the rest of the animal is in focus, but not its face and eyes, it doesn’t matter. It won’t look like it’s in focus. The viewer wants to make a connection with the animal in the photograph, so this is key.
If I’m using a wide-angle lens, I’ll get down behind an object so that my photograph still has a subject and the picture has depth. If I’m going to the astral phenomenon that is the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), perhaps that object would be my car, with a view of the illuminated skyline through the window. I’d be attempting to show the natural environment and how my journey coincides with it.
Being a nature photographer can bring great joy to you too, so remember to choose environments, flora, and fauna that you are naturally curious about. That curiosity will then come through in the awe-inspiring photographs that you take.
Career-wise, nature photography lends itself to being a freelancer as there is a lot of travel and your subject matter is always changing. With nature photography, I get to raise awareness about environmental issues and spend time alone in nature, taking in awe-inspiring scenes.
Nature photography is a fantastic challenge for any avid photographer to take on. Understanding the environment and then showing it respect is the first and most crucial step. Taking in the natural landscape behind a lens is a unique way to capture it forever. Over time natural environments may evolve, but the images I capture of the present natural world remain for years to come.