Thursday, September 10, 2015

Nature Photography Tips

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Classes Great Way to Enhance Photography Skills

I have found that the world of photography is a never ending learning experience. I am always so excited to learn new techniques and new ideas for photographs.
The opportunities to increase your skills with your camera are everywhere you look. You might find a good book written by a photographer you admire. Studying the works of others is a great way to learn. There are also some great photographer groups on both Facebook and Google+ where you can view the work of others and even post your own photos. Other photo enthusiasts always seem eager to give advice and tips.
I like to take a seminar or a photography class every year. I feel that I always learn something new and many times skills that I had learned and forget to use are reinforced in these classes. When I have taken classes in the past, I have written a  a blog post on them. For me the act of writing down what I have learned reinforces my learning. I hope it also helps others who read these tips.
On this page I will write on a nature photography class I am taking at our local community center. Our instructor Garry Rose has a great way of explaining concepts so that they make sense to me.
photos on this page are by the author mbgphoto

Lesson One

Introduction

In our first class the instructor gave us an introduction to nature photography. He described nature photography as anything taken outdoors that is not changed by man. Things like landscapes, wildlife, flowers, and animals would all be a part of nature photography.
We also talked about ethics for a photographer. Some key points included:
*Keep subjects safe
*Never dig up plants
*Never trim or snap plants
*Be careful not to expose nest or handle babies
A key point to remember is to leave the area looking exactly like it did when you arrived.

Know Your Subject

read or observe

It is always good to know your subject before you set out to photograph. You can do this by researching the subject or by observing what you see.
An example the instructor gave on knowing your subject is his own love of photographing dragonflies. Dragonflies are often times rather elusive but because our instructor has studied their habits he knows the best times and places to catch some great shots of dragonflies.

Know your Equipment

The best way to get to know your camera and equipment is to use them and practice with them. Our instructor encouraged the use of the histogram on our cameras to help us to determine if the light is right on our photo. This is particularly good to use on a bright sunny day when it is hard to see the screen on the camera. You can use the + or - button on your camera to lighten or darken the subject as needed.
Another camera feature that is good to know is the depth of field preview button. This will help you to determine if you have in focus what you want in focus. Check your camera manual if you don't know where your button is on the camera. The instructor gave us an assignment to help us learn about the depth of field with the various focal lengths on our camera. We were to photograph a 12 inch ruler using both the longest and the shortest focal lengths on each of our lenses. We were to use aperature priority set at F8 and make sure the ruler was in focus on each shot. I really enjoyed seeing how this changed the background in each of my photos. With my shortest focal length 18mm the house in the background is in focus as you see in this photo. Look at the photo below to see how that changes with the longer focal length.
With this lesson in mind I used my 300mm focal length to photograph a tulip in my neighbors yard. I was able to get the tulip in focus and the background blurred.

Same shot using a 300mm lens

Good Technique

The instructor gave us a lot of tips on good techniques to use during nature photography. Some of them were reinforcing techniques I already use and others were ideas that I need to incorporate into my photography.
These are some of the key points I took away from the lecture.
  • Always use a Tripod
  • Slow down and take your time. This is a great tip and one that I need to be work on.
  • Shoot both vertical and horizontal views.
  • Look for different vantage points. Everybody looks at a scene and takes it straight on. Find a way to make it different. Perhaps you might just photograph a section close up or photograph it with something interesting in the foreground.
  • Look for ways to frame the subject. This is one of my favorites. I love to find ways to frame my subjects as you can see in the lighthouse photo that I framed by colored leaves.
Here is a tripod that is the same brand and price range as the one that I use.  While it is not the most expensive, it is not the cheapest either and I find that it works well for my needs.
Click for more details on Amazon

5 comments:

  1. You always have such good tips on photography, Mary Beth. Thanks for sharing your tips for nature photos.

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  2. I always pick up something from your helpful tips. I do love to find a way to frame a subject photo too, it's one of my fave things to do. Next time I'll do what you suggest 'look for different vantage points' - I forget to do this sometimes.

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  3. Mary Beth, you​ always give us great photography tips and today is no exception. I personally had no idea there was a depth of field button on my camera! Since I enjoy photographing wildlife, I am definitely going to have to grab a ruler, my lenses, and play with that button myself. I really do need to spend more "learning" time with my camera.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, and I forgo to tell you, I love that tulip photo! Simply gorgeous!!!

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  4. Thank you everyone for your comments. Photography is definately a "learn as you go" hobby and I am constantly picking up new ideas and revisiting old tips I had forgotten about.

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