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Nature Photography Tips

Best Nature Photography Tips for Beginners

Do you want to take beautiful nature photos that will impress your family and friends, as well as other photographers who are more skilled than you? You’ve found the right place.

Photographing nature is a skill that I have learned over the years. In this article, I share my nine best tips for doing so, such as:

  • The right nature photography gear is important for getting the same results over and over again.
  • These are the best places to take nature photos.
  • How do you prepare for a nature trip?
  • Much, much more!

By the time you finish reading, you’ll be ready to go on a nature photography trip of your own.

To start, let’s go.

1. Do your homework before you go out.

Doing nature photography is a lot of fun; in fact, it can be a lot of fun.

But did you know that nature photography really starts at home, before you even set foot in the woods or fields?

To start with, check the weather a few days or hours before going on a trip. Is it going to rain? Sunny? Rainy? Make sure you choose the right gear for the weather. And spend some time thinking about what kind of lighting you can expect and how that will change your settings. Cloudy light, for example, will usually require a higher ISO in order to get a fast enough shutter speed for a picture.

Then, look up the things you’ll see on your trip. If you want to take pictures of landscapes, Google Earth can be very useful here. You can also do some Googling to get a list of wildlife in the area and do some more Googling to learn about the unique things about different types of wildlife.

Also, a good idea: Check to see what other people have taken at your destination before you go there. It’s very important to use Instagram and Google Places in this area. Use other photographers’ images to get ideas and figure out which subjects and areas you want to focus on.

So, of course, you can’t be fully prepared for a nature photo shoot, but that’s fine. Preparation isn’t about planning every detail of your trip down to the last picture. Instead, it’s about figuring out what to expect in general and how to spend your time in the field the best way possible.

2. Pack the right nature photography gear

There are a lot of things that professional nature photographers have. You do not need the best cameras and lenses to get great pictures.

Instead, you can make beautiful pictures with a simple camera and a few lenses, as long as you have a lot of patience and perseverance.

In addition, before going out, you should think carefully about what you need. That way, you have the best chance of succeeding.

There was a previous tip that told you how to do research. Then, you should know what kind of animals you can expect to come across on the trip. To get close-ups of birds and animals, make sure you pack your best zoom lens. This way, you can get full-body and even headshots of birds and animals. A 300mm lens is good for taking pictures of big animals, and a 400mm or 500mm lens is needed when you’re taking pictures of small animals and birds that move around.

If you want to take pictures of landscapes, make sure you pack your widest lens. A wide zoom, like a 16-35mm lens, will be very useful, but you can also use a 24-70mm lens or even a 24mm prime.

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It’s also a good idea to bring a macro lens with you if you want to get a close-up look at things like flowers, trees, and ice on the water.

As for cameras, any model that can be changed out with new lenses will work. If you want to take pictures of moving things, like birds in flight, the faster the autofocus system is, the better.

Whatever you do, don’t pack too much. A lot of gear will make you feel heavy and make it hard for you to keep taking pictures. Take too little gear, not too much. Even though it may be hard, it’s better to take too little than too much.

3. Be sure to take a good bag

Nature photographers can get very obsessed with their cameras and lenses. Such gear does matter, but remember to think about the little things, like a good bag.

Because all the gear in the world isn’t worth much if you can’t carry it around comfortably.

You can find many bags that are too small, uncomfortable, and can break after a little stress. You get what you pay for when it comes to bags, but that doesn’t always happen.

So don’t be cheap! Consider the most gear you’d ever want to take on a trip and make sure it all fits in the new bag. It’s especially important to make sure the bag is big enough to hold your largest lenses.

For extra peace of mind, pick up a bag that is either semi-weatherproof or water-resistant, like this one.

For taking pictures of nature, this is the bag I always have with me. You can see it in the picture on the right. It has a rain cover that I use when things start to get dangerous.

Most photographers these days buy their bags online. That’s fine, but if you do buy a bag online, make sure to read a lot of reviews. Instead, if you live near a camera store, you can go in and try on different lenses. Ask the staff what they think is best for nature photographers to look for.

And don’t forget about comfort. Initially, a bag might not feel bad on your back. After a long day of shooting with an uncomfortable bag on your back, you’ll wish you had spent more money on a better bag instead.

It also talks about comfort.

4. Don’t forget about the little comfort items

You should bring a few things with you when you go for nature photography, even if they won’t help you take better pictures. These are things that will make the whole trip more fun.

For example, I think you should get some good hiking shoes or boots to go hiking. Indeed, I’d say that one of the most important nature photography tools you’ll ever use is a good pair of boots. You need a pair of shoes or boots that can handle grit, dirt, mud, water, bugs, rocks, and creepy-crawlies.

I also suggest that you look up the weather and pack the right clothes before you go. When you don’t know what to do, dress in layers. That way, you can always take off your outer clothes if you get too hot.)

Bring a lot of water and snacks, too. Shooting all day means that you need to keep your energy up and your body hydrated so that you can keep up with the pace.

5. Make a list of things to do.

Before going on a nature photo shoot, make a checklist in your head or on paper. You don’t want to get to your favorite photo spot and find that you forgot something important!

As a result, you should ask yourself the following:

  • Are there any permits or permissions that I need to get? Some national parks, state parks, and wildlife sanctuaries require visitors to get special permission to go into certain areas, especially those that are in remote areas.
  • Where will I park my vehicle? This is a very important point. If you park your car in an illegal place, then you will be hit with a big fine. Then you’ll come back and find that your car has been towed.
  • Are there time restraints of any kind? People who go to natural areas and parks usually have to be there at certain times. A great sunrise might not be possible until after the sun comes up. Remember that wild animals and critters are usually most active in the early morning and late evening, so choose a place where you can get the most out of your time. This word is most relevant.
  • What will the weather be like in the next few days? This is a big deal. Check the forecast on the day you leave and keep an eye on it during the day, if possible. Never risk your safety or the safety of your equipment by going out in bad weather without being prepared. Rain covers for your camera and backpack are a good idea even if the weather is going to be nice and sunny. It’s better to be safe than sorry, right?
  • Sunrise and sunset are at what times? Again, make sure the places where you want to take a picture of the sunrise or sunset are open to you. You also need to know when the sunrise and sunset are so that you can get to your location and set up your gear before the magic happens.
  • Are there any animals, landmarks, or structures that people often take pictures of? I talked about this one in a previous tip, but I think it’s worth mentioning again because it’s important. It’s a good idea to find out what people usually take pictures of in the area you want to visit. Look for a park ranger or someone else who works there and ask about less-known places. Find out what people like and what has been done in the past to avoid repeating yourself when you shoot scenes. Make a list of ways you can be creative.
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6. Shoot in RAW

Make sure you change the image format on your camera right now if you aren’t already shooting in RAW, then do that right now!

When you take a picture with a JPEG, the picture is already processed and compressed. RAW images, on the other hand, don’t have to be compressed.

You can’t just look at RAW images right away; they first go through a converter like Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw. This means that they take a little more time on the computer.

But RAW images have a ton of advantages, as well. In post-processing, you can change the white balance a lot, get back lost detail in the highlights and the shadows, and apply major tonal and color shifts without having to worry about making the picture look bad. Nature photoshoots can be unpredictable, so it’s best to have as many options as possible when it comes to editing your photos after the fact.

In case you don’t like the idea of processing your nature photos in a computer program, you can always speed up the process by batch editing with presets and making changes to all of your photos at once. Take your photos, apply a basic preset to them all, and save them as JPEGs. Take a few minutes, and you’ll be done in no time at all. The results will look good, but you might want to do more editing in some cases, like when your files don’t have all the information they should.

7. Keep your ISO as low as possible

Your camera’s ISO controls how sensitive it is to light, which means that, if you raise your ISO, you can take bright pictures even in very dark places, because your camera is more sensitive to light (e.g., in a shadowy forest or at dusk).

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High ISOs also make your photos look bad and make them look worse if you don’t fix them.

So you need to choose your ISO very carefully, then.

It’s my suggestion. Start by setting your camera’s ISO to its “base” value. So, when the light goes down, raise it only when you need it.

You see, as you lose light, you’ll have to take steps to make sure your photos are bright enough. It’s possible to slow down your shutter speed, but you’ll need a good shutter speed to take good pictures while moving around. It’s especially important if you’re taking pictures of moving things to have a fast shutter speed.

When you’re taking pictures of nature, the best thing you can do is to raise the ISO a little bit, but not too much. In good light, don’t raise the ISO just because you can. Instead, keep the ISO low and only raise it when it’s really necessary.

8. Use the right autofocus mode to capture sharp shots

Most cameras have two different ways to focus.

  1. AF-C, also known as AI Servo, tells your lens to continuously acquire focus as long as your finger half-presses the shutter button.
  2. AF-S, also known as One-Shot AF, tells your lens to acquire and then lock focus when your finger half-presses the shutter button.

In this case, the right autofocus mode will depend on what you’re taking a picture of. Flowers, plants, and trees are best shot with the AF-S mode. You can put an autofocus point on the part of your subject that you want to focus on, then half-press the shutter button to lock the focus. Then, you can carefully recompose the picture while still being sure that the focus is right.

Animals and birds, on the other hand, are always on the go. In these situations, AF-C is very important. Otherwise, you’ll lock focus on your subject only to have them leave the focus plane before you can take a picture. By the way, if you can combine your AF-C mode with your camera’s tracking mode, it’ll instantly improve your photos, which will make them better.

If you don’t know how to set your camera’s autofocus mode, look at the manual to see how to do that. You can find a lot of useful information in there!

You should also learn how to manually focus if you like to take macro or landscape photos. It’s important to use manual focus if you want to get the most out of your depth of field or if you want to make art with a shallow focus effect.

9. Don’t forget a tripod

It’s not always easy to carry a tripod around, and there are some types of nature photography that don’t always benefit from tripods.

There are times when a tripod is very useful and makes all the difference.

It turns out that nature photography is often done when the light is low, like at sunrise and sunset. This means that you’ll either have to raise your ISO or lower your shutter speed to get the best picture. Each option has its own drawbacks unless, of course, you have a tripod. Then, you can lower your shutter speed to your heart’s desire!

In addition, if you don’t like the idea of having to carry around a big tripod, don’t worry; there are a lot of lightweight and small tripods out there that are surprisingly strong. You should spend extra money on a strong carbon-fiber option. Even a high-quality tripod will still cost less than most lenses!

Make sure you buy a tripod and use it when you need to!


Taking pictures of nature might not always be easy, but it can be a great way to improve your art, personal life, and even your spiritual life.

Go out and enjoy yourself doing what you love! It’s a good idea to take pictures of birds, wildlife, landscapes, flowers, and more.

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