One of the best ways to improve your photography skills is to simply go outside. Nature is all around us and you’d be surprised what is within a few minutes drive. I find myself heading out to take pictures with one of two mindsets. First I go with a plan and bring the right gear or second I just go out. Usually the planned approach works best but not always. Some of my best nature photos were captured almost by fluke. For me the following nature photography tips are simple to remember and simpler to use.
Tip # 1 – Take a picture right away.
Ok this sounds crazy but it’s so important. After reading all the camera books you can and tips (like my simple tips on taking better bird photos) the first thing to do is take a picture.
Once you arrive at your location stand by your car and take a picture. It doesn’t matter what you take a picture of all that matters is you take it. Why you do this is very simple but so important. You do it to remember how to use the camera and make sure it’s acutally working. The number of times I’ve arrived at a location to take pictures of birds or the landscape and realized after I took the photo that the camera was either set to a timer or long exposiure and missed the shot. Yes camera settings matter! So now the first thing I do is take a practice shot of something that doesn’t matter. Get it out of the way and have your camera set for where you are. Now when that bird lands in front of you you’ll be ready to snap a great picture.
Tip # 2 – Stop and look around
Almost as obvious as tip #1 standiong and looking around allows you to see what is happinging in nature. The wildlife around you has seen you long before you will see them. So take a minute to get use to where you are and see if you can see patterns in behaviour. This will help you to find a location that’s best fot he type of photo you want to take.
Tip # 3 – Location location and location
Around where I live there are a number of wildlife reserves that birders and photographers frequent. You’ll find that many of them settle in the same locations taking the same pictures. Now I’m not against doing this but don’t limit yourself to what others are doing. Some of my best photos are taken from a kayak, just make sure you get the best kayak for photography if you plan on taking your gear on the water. So after you take some nature photos with everyone else walk away and find a new location or different angle to the location everyone else is at. You’ll be surprised at what you capture.
Tip #4 – research before you go out
Looking for a new place to take photos while you’re driving around can be tedious and not yield anything. Before I head out to take pictures I’ll often check out places like my local news paper for tips on where to go. In Durham Region the 10 top places to enjoy nature is a good start. I’ll also look at Google Maps to see what is near me that I might not have seen from the roads I normally travel.
Tip # 5 – Bring the right gear
As I said earlier there are two ways I generally approach taking nature photos. Either one requires that I take the right gear even if it’s a single camera and lens. If you’re planning on packing more check out this gear for wildlife article for some tips on what to bring. I tend to bring one body for each lens and focus on getting the best shots from what i have. Bringing all your gear tends to slow you down both physically and mentally. Keep it simple is always a good rule.
Hope these simple nature and bird photography tips have helped you see things a little different. Camera settings aside there are a few things you can do to help you take better shots.