1.) Create Your Own Scene
An incredible photo doesn’t always have to come from a spectacular event like the Aurora Borealis or a Blue moon. Sometimes you can find yourself a photo worthy scene in your own back yard. If you aren’t quite satisfied with what you see in front of you maybe move some things around. If you want water droplets on a flower take a spray bottle and make your own. Just keep a keen eye and get creative. An awesome scene could pop out immediately, but other times it might take some searching for or manipulation.
2.) Don’t Be Afraid to Get Up Close
A close up photo can really draw in the viewer or sometimes completely change the perception of what the image is. Taking pictures of small things at close range is called “Photomacrography”. Many camera’s have a macro setting that is often labeled with a flower. There is a max to how close up any camera can get, so be aware of where that is otherwise your photo will end up partially or completely out of focus. Try to always move yourself as close to the object as possible first in order to prevent a decrease in image quality from zooming or cropping.
3.) Use a Tripod
There are many benefits to using a tripod, especially when photographing nature. When holding a camera by hand there is a small shake whenever the shutter is pressed, so a tripod firstly allows steadiness for a crisper image. A lot of times you’ll want to have your shot set up while waiting for the perfect moment, with a tripod you won’t have to stay holding up the weight of the camera or risk moving the shot. After all, it can get tiresome after awhile! In addition, a tripod is perfect when your looking to use a long exposure for cool star trails and moving lights or for panoramas.
4.) Play with Different Angles, Positions, and Effects
Before taking more photos of a subject ask your self questions like, “What other angles could I shoot this from?” and “Would this look better with a filter?”. Some DSLR’s have awesome filters and effects that are built into the camera which is useful because not all filters can be truly recreated with photoshop. If you want a picture of something on the ground it might create a greater connection if you move down to that level, too. Personally, I find one of the hardest things is staying patient and changing up settings to better fit the situation.
5.) Turn off the Flash
Perfect natural light isn’t always there when you want, so often times it might be instinct to simply turn on the flash if a photograph seems too dark. Try to resist! Flash can be harsh and take away the natural feel of an outdoor landscape, creature, etc. Flash can also create distracting shadows. Other solutions can be adjusting settings such as aperture and ISO or moving the angle of where the photo is being taken from. Allowing the sun to illuminate your subject from the front with your back facing away is a simple trick called “front-lighting”. The reverse is called “Back-lighting”. Even though it might be easier to just turn on the flash try to use this as a last attempt.
6.) Be Ready for the “Decisive Moment”
An important part of nature photography is being ready to capture that one awesome shot once it comes along – even if it takes hours of waiting. Three of the best ways to make sure you don’t miss the moment are using continuous shooting mode, pre-focusing, and anticipation. Some point and shoot cameras have significant lag between pressing the shutter and when the actual photo is taken. Compensate for this by trying to anticipate shortly before themoment. For example, before an animal yawns it often licks it lips and slowly opens it mouth before reaching the full yawn(like in the photo above). Continuos shooting mode can also be useful. This mode is usually depicted with cascading boxes. In continuous shooting mode the camera will take several photos in a row, so hopefully one of them will be what you were looking for. Lastly, if you can, get the camera focused so that there is no time wasted on focusing when the time is finally right.