Beginnings were never easy, and less if we do not know how to start. This list is intended to illuminate the way of those who either are making your first steps in nature photography or you start to feel curious about it, but even you can can find some tips to help even experienced photographers. I hope you find it interesting:
- Respect nature
You have decided to dedicate your photography (either as a hobby or as a professional) to nature. It is understood that it’s an issue that is bothering you and grabs your attention. As photographers, we need to act ethically when moving through nature, in order not to harm the environment, flora or fauna.
- Get used to a new schedule
No more picnics with family and take advantage of sunny days to take a few pictures. Often, the best hours of the day to portray nature will be those in which others may not even have gotten out of bed yet. You just need to see it by yourself; Twilight lights, sunsets and sunrises and even the night, give a much more powerful light and can get more emotion and attention from the viewer than the result of a blue sky with a bright midday sun. Not only the colors will change, but we also create relief and texture to the composition thanks to the direction of the light.
- Be aware of the weather
The nature photographer soon finds a special appeal to meteorological phenomena. When you have passed the barrier of fear to such aspects as cold or wet, you will start searching for the fog, the rain, the snow and even the storm. These phenomena will provide the resulting image from a particular atmosphere, able to convey different feelings.
- Train your body and your mind
It is not true in all cases, but many times you will need to walk to access the ideal location (or even climb) in addition to having to carry the equipment on your back for long periods of time. We put our own limits, but what is certain is that good physical conditions will help us do our day to day more bearable.
But not everything is physical. The mind has a very high weight to bear for the activity in nature, because we have to prepare psychologically for failure and frustration, sometimes caused by an animal that does not appear when we’ve been all day waiting for it, for a light we expected since four in the morning but does not appear, or to make an expensive trip in order to see a phenomenon that simply doesn’t happen. We must learn that we can not control nature, only anticipate situations and adapt ourselves to them.
- Do not underestimate the preproduction
A good pre-production is everything. There is no point going to photograph the broom in February and in the middle of the Pyrenees if before we have not documented ourselves for that it is a spring-summer flowering plant and rather close to the Mediterranean coast. Before starting a session, a report or a personal project, we will make an effort to study the characteristics of what we want to photograph, where we can find it, what is the climate of the area and even which will be the best time of year or what materials or permissions need.
- You do not need the best equipment, but the best look
If you’re starting out, do not be alarmed at the large number of brands and models of cameras, lenses and various accessories, nor by the high price of some of these items. It’s useless to have the more expensive equipment if we don’t know how to use it but also the most important is our art, our point of view and our special look, what will really differentiate our photographs from other photographer’s ones.
- I think, then I shoot
A very common mistake is wanting to photograph everything that comes in front of the lenses, almost without thinking, and taking countless bursts of shots, as if it were a machine gun. My advice is that when we find a good location, animal or plant, the first thing to do is to study a while (if you have the time) its possibilities, the turns, looking for possible compositions and views, considering the light at different levels of the image, to think of what is the best lens for photography and considering all the elements of the scene before shooting.
- Take care of your equipment, it’s your work tool
It is interesting to invest in an ergonomic trekking backpack, waterproof and padded inside so we can save the different components of our equipment in different separators.
Be especially careful when changing the lens, because for a moment, the body of the camera remains open and there is danger from dust depositing on the sensor. Inevitably, there will be a moment that we’ll need to clean it (either by ourselves or taking it to a specialty store) but it always helps to make these changes indoors or using our body as a protection from the wind.
Another typical problem can be the sand, especially in beach areas or deserts, it can enter between the joints of the tripod or impact against the lens. In the second case, it is advisable to use a protective filter if we know that we will shoot in a location like this.
- The best location is usually not at the roadside
Or maybe it is … but then we can be sure that there will be almost nothing that differentiates our picture of the millions of tourists who stopped at the same place. In these cases what we have to do is to find a new perspective, a new point of view that breaks with the vision of other photographers.
Usually, the best option is to walk into the area, explore and discover. Sometimes it will mean going down a river from top to the bottom, climbing a mountain or even walking through a valley.
- If you go alone, say where you go
As you can see, all these lines of action will make that no one would be pleased to accompany you! Unless concerned a second nature photographer! And that’s why you will often have to go alone. There are also those who prefer to work this way, as an element of nature, in silence and enjoying the wind and birdsongs. However, you should always tell someone where and when you plan to go and come back. No matter if it’s a friend, a relative, a mountain lodge or hotel staff. This way, if anything happened to you, they will miss and start the necessary steps to search and / or rescue you.