6 Nature Photography Tips from National Geographic

Nature PhotographySummer is coming, and with summer vacation comes travel, and with travel comes the urge to snap photos of sweeping landscapes, rugged coasts, lush forests, and valleys that are so picture perfect you feel like you’re in a dream.

The problem, of course, is capturing the scene to really highlight the various colors and textures you can see but that your camera won’t automatically capture. For the solution, I looked to National Geographic. If anyone knows how to capture nature at its most awe-inspiring, it’s them.

Here are 6 nature photography tips from the team at National Geographic:

1. Shoot photos on cloudy days


We have talked about lighting a lot recently (you can read about it in-depth here), and it is especially important when shooting photos outside. Bright sun bleaches out colors and adds harsh textures and shadows. Cloudy days, on the other hand, diffuse and soften the light, which also leads to deeper color saturation.

2. Play with texture


Bright sun is not always the enemy. Some scenes are made special by their textures – mountains, sand dunes, water. The sharply angled sun you get at sunrise and sunset will highlight those textures and deepen shadows, making those scenes really pop (rather than feel flat).

3. Keep an eye out for distractions


When shooting nature, do your best to keep manmade objects out of the photo. Utility poles and wires, fences, buildings, signs, etc. will distract from beauty of what you’re capturing.

4. Include details that convey your feelings


This is a really cool tip: When you’re shooting a scene, think about how you would describe it, and then try to capture an object or detail that illustrates your description. For instance, if you’re shooting a photo on a hot day, look for heat shimmering above pavement in the distance.

5. Think carefully about background when shooting animals


Animals tend to blend into the background in their native habitats, so be patient and wait for the animal to move. You want it to be outlined against a contrasting color so it’s more visible, whether that’s the sky, a river, or field.

5. Angle shots and photograph plants en masse


When you’re trying to capture the detail of a plant, shoot from different angles – top, side, other side, below – to see what works best. Another great tip is to capture plants en masse for a dramatic effect.

For more advanced tips – or just to view some stunning nature photography – check out the National Geographic blog post on the subject.