One of life’s greatest pleasures is being outside surrounded by stunning natural scenery. Photographing the beauty of nature is a way to prolong this pleasure, but truly capturing that beauty can be very tricky.
Outdoor photography can be challenging, but these tips will help you take better photos in several different circumstances. For your inspiration, I’ve included a selection of beautiful photographs.
1. The art of lighting
Keep an eye on the available light at all times. Light is the single most important element in photography. To take great photos, you must learn to make the light work to your advantage.
2. Choosing the right moment
The ideal time of the day to take the best photos is early in the morning or just before the sun sets. At these hours, the light is soft and it has a lovely hue that will pleasantly affect your images.
3. Avoiding harsh light
Around midday, when the sun is high in the sky, the light is harsh, shadows are strong and colors are dull. You probably won’t be able to take the most charming pictures at this time unless you are indoors or in the shade.
4. Hazy or overcast weather
It might be less pleasant to walk around on a gloomy, grayish day, but pictures taken in this kind of weather can actually be better than those taken in sunny days. Clouds and haze diffuse the sunlight, making shadows softer and colors soothing.
5. Keep the ISO low.
If your camera has manual settings, make sure to keep the ISO value at its lowest. High ISO increases digital noise, which negatively affects the final quality of your images. Raise the ISO only when shooting in low light.
6. Eliminate camera shake.
Camera shake usually occurs while holding the camera in your hands in less than ideal lighting. It’s the reason many photos turn out sort of blurry.
There are actually ways to avoid camera shake and get sharper pictures. If your camera has manual settings, raise your shutter speed by adjusting aperture and ISO at the same time. Alternatively, use a tripod or a stable surface to steady the camera. To get even sharper images when the camera is on a tripod, you can use the self-timer.
7. Use a tripod.
A tripod can improve your photos in many instances. With a tripod, you can take sharp photos in low light. You will achieve better framing and composition, and you’ll probably find it handy when you need to be in front of the camera.
8. Correctly set the white balance.
Many new cameras will let you set the white balance to match your scene so no weird color casts show up in your final images.
If you are shooting in cloudy weather, there is a setting for it. If you take photos at sunset, there is usually a setting for that.
If you forget to set your white balance, don’t worry too much because you can make some adjustments in post-production.
9. Use fill light.
When sunlight is too strong or when it’s too dark, consider adding a touch of light either with flash or with a reflective surface to lift the shadows and light up the objects in the foreground. Using flash outdoors is often about bringing the details to life.
10. The importance of people
Having people in your pictures, even when they are not your main subject, can add perspective and give the viewer a sense of space and dimension.
11. Keep practicing.
Taking remarkable photos requires patience. If the photos you take are not that great, it doesn’t necessarily mean you did something wrong. Maybe the weather got in the way or other circumstances were not favorable.
Either give it another try or consider going back later. Sometimes just a few hours can make a huge difference.
12. Move the horizon up and down.
Instead of placing the horizon in the center of the picture, give prominence to either the sky or the land.
Moving the horizon up or down, depending on the scene, usually makes a more powerful photo. Level the camera so the horizon is not crooked.
13. Pay attention to the details.
Outdoor photography is not only about majestic landscapes but also about details. Learn to see the potential in the small things in pattern, textures and colors. Sometimes they are the most charming subjects for a photo.
14. Less is more.
Photos in which too many elements compete for attention and space are usually weak and distracting. Carefully select your main subject and don’t be afraid to leave out what is not necessary.
15. Different perspectives
Take the time to explore your subject from a different point of view. Try to capture it with fresh eyes by attempting something out of the ordinary. You might end up with very surprising results.
Practice and patience
Taking good pictures is just a matter of practice and patience. Digital cameras have made shooting photos very convenient, so don’t be afraid to experiment and don’t forget to have fun!