Nature & Landscape Photography: Tricks of the Trade

Nature demands more than just a good camera. It demands patience, skill and planning. Whether you’re photographing a bouquet of flowers inside, or expansive landscapes in the wilderness, there are techniques of the trade you should employ before you snap a photo. Make your nature and landscape photography truly stand out with these tips.

Lead Lines

Lead lines can move from the foreground of the photo and draw the eye back. The eye will then focus on the object the lead lines accentuate. Lead lines in a city might be painted road lines, power lines, or the lines of a series of buildings. In nature these can be clouds, rushing waves or even the formation of sand, or trees bowed by the wind. All of them indirectly point at the scene of your photograph. This gives your image a stage on which to spring from. Though nature takes care of these, it’s good to be conscious of them as you frame the composition of a photo.

Tripod vs Handheld

Tripods are great for those patient long exposure shots. But for the ones of sweeping stars or perfect sunsets, a handheld photograph, even with a long exposure can enhance the wildness in your photo. The mobility of you handheld camera is best for wildlife that’s on the move, while tripods are best for landscapes. Don’t be afraid of the blur motion shot when you capture wild animals. It can often communicate the experience better than a perfectly still shot.

Shooting Indoors

If you have a flower garden, nature visits your home. Photograph the bouquets you’ve grown and picked yourself. Reflectors can focus the light on your subject. Reflectors can be as simple as white poster board. Have a helper hold the board where you want it, adjust your light, and snap your photograph. Give your flowers a white backdrop for more pop. For great examples of still shots photographed indoors, look at the arrangements on FTD.

Watch Your Step

When you venture out in nature, watch your step. Whether fields of wildflowers or mountain landscapes, preservation is always a concern. Many plants are endangered species, or play habitat to endangered animals. While this isn’t a photography technique per se, it’s an important tip for any nature photographer.

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a compositional rule. This rule helps the photographer get the subject of her photo out of the middle of the frame. Divide your frame into thirds both vertically and horizontally. Now angle your camera so the subject of your image is in a more interesting space. For instance, don’t have your horizon in the middle of your photograph. Instead position it in the top or bottom third. This will put an emphasis on the sky, the objects of the image backdropped with blue, sunrise, or sunset. In a photograph with a defined horizon, vertical lines, such as trees or even buildings compliment the scene well.

The rule of thirds is helpful, but it isn’t absolute. Break the rule if you wish and see what works for you. The world doesn’t always fit the rule of thirds, so neither should you. Don’t cheat your landscape, your garden flowers or wildlife with this rule. Think of it more as a guideline and don’t get too caught up in the rules. After all, art is best when it’s intuitive.