With nature photography, I have a catchall to cover images that span a wide variety of approaches and styles, from flowers to wildlife. It’s a medium that I can use to relay human interest stories. This is a trade that requires patience and creativity if I have to successfully use shutter speed to snap an animal in motion or take a close-up flower photograph with varying depths.
There are several factors that I consider when shooting outdoors. Normally, the shoots vary due to uncooperative wildlife, constantly changing light, and inclement weather. Unlike studio photographers, shooting in nature is uncontrolled, and it pushes me out of my comfort zone.
I always plan my outdoor shoot before packing my boots in the rucksack and hitting the nature trail. The time of the day and the intensity of light are crucial considerations. If I want to shoot photos of the natural world, then I always do it in the morning or evening when there are no midday shadows.
Still, planning ensures that I pack the right gear for the mission. Critical among the equipment is waterproof material to protect my gear and something to shade my camera. Other accessories that I bring along are an extra lens, memory cards, and batteries.
Before I venture out for outdoor shooting, I always assess and consider the environment, whether it’s within my precincts or in a remote village away from home. To avoid brushing with the law enforcers, I always apply for the permit before the trip, operate within the prescribed location and leave the venue as clean as I found it.
Since animals move very fast, capturing them while in motion requires thorough preparedness. A slight fidget and I could miss out on a fantastic shot. I thus arm myself with a fast shutter to capture such epic moments. While out in the wild, patience is the key because animals are tricky to spot or track. So, I move around knowing that I could stumble on an animal any time.
Birds are another interesting group of animals to photograph. Although they are almost everywhere, none can move closer. Therefore, if I’m using a mid-range lens, I have to zoom in to get a great shot. I’m planning to buy a zoom lens to improve the quality of the photos that I take.
Generally, animals are uncooperative subjects, and I have learned to approach them with a plan, knowing that a lot of editing awaits me thereafter.
The best thing about plants is that they are predictable. The challenge lies in getting the right depth of field. The closer I get to it, the shallower the depth thus may miss out on some crucial details. In such instances, a tripod comes in handy as I can use longer exposures and smaller apertures to increase the depth of my field. Additionally, I look out for elements such as breeze which could ruin the exposure. I thus shield my target or clump the subject in position.
To have more control over the depth of field, I adjust my camera to aperture priority mode. I have learned that plants are both agreeable and common subjects. While shooting plants outdoors, I always try putting new techniques, shifting my creativity here and there, and in the end, I always find a way of enhancing my images.
Whereas landscape photography is part of nature photography, it has its skill. For great shots, I keep my patience until the conditions level up. This allows me to get shots from various angles on popular subjects. Besides the weather, another challenging aspect of landscape photography is determining my style and voice.
Golden hours (dawn and dusk) offer the best setting for landscape photography as they offer the perfect lighting. It’s the moment when I get the best of the sky shots. I always wonder if those photographers who pack and leave when the sun sets in are professionals. It’s that time that I use to improve my shooting skills.
When packing for landscape photography, I pack wide-angle lenses to capture a stunning image. This is because the depth is deeper, putting the whole scene in focus.