Now that the weather has finally warmed up, it’s the perfect time to try your hand at some nature photography! But before you wander off into the great wild somewhere with your camera and tripod in hand, make sure you’re prepared for everything Mother Nature might throw at you. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the nature shots you want.
Photographers amateur and professional alike will attest to this – camera gadgets are inherently addictive. There is nothing like walking into a camera store and poking and prodding racks upon racks of shiny, camera-y goodness. But even though these tools and gadgets are fun, less is more tends to work better for nature photography. Especially if the outdoor photos you have planned require a hike or a bike or a canoe – do you really want to lug around a titanium tripod head, or 8 different filters, or whatever it is you’ve picked up from the camera store this time? Probably not. That being said, the gear you do want to bring with you is absolutely essential. Quality outdoor clothing, garbage bags or shower caps to protect your gear from rain, bug spray, comfortable hiking shoes or rain boots, a fast telephoto lens and a GPS or map and compass are just a few of the things you’ll need to be prepared for a day shooting outside.
Now you’re all packed up and ready to get shooting, please keep in mind the nature (no pun intended!) of your photo shoot. Whether you’re on a nature reserve or in a state park, the animals are not in a zoo, this is their home. Just like you wouldn’t enter a friend’s home and start knocking their furniture around, please be mindful of where you go and what you move; you could be walking right into a rabbit burrow or bird’s nest. Take special care to keep a distance from nests and burrows, or you run the risk of exposing them to predators. The longer your lens, the more distance you can put between you and your subject and the less disturbance you are likely to cause.
And most importantly, be ready! There is nothing worse than finding a shot you want and your camera is in your bag, or has the wrong lens on, or needs a new memory card. But nature photography is a learning experience, and the only way to truly learn what works for you is to get out there and get shooting. You can’t get better if you never start, after all. Our planet has all sorts of hidden beauty and wild surprises, and they are just waiting to be caught on camera.