Tips on getting into the wonderful world of nature photography

Tips on getting into the wonderful world of nature photography



Nature photography is both a way to explore the natural world and a way to creatively depict various elements of it. As an amateur, but enthusiastic, photographer, I have become more experienced over the past few years at taking interesting, quality photos of plants, animals, and outdoor scenery. I’d like to share some of the advice and experience that has helped me improve my photography in the hopes that others will find it useful, too.



You don’t need to get an expensive camera to be a nature photographer. One piece of advice, written by a professional photographer, that has stuck with me is that having high-end equipment isn’t as important as understanding how to use the equipment you have. There are situations where a nice camera can be useful, but such cameras are often expensive and bulky—meaning other options can be better. Many phone cameras, for instance, can take great pictures, and smaller, less fancy cameras can too. The important thing is to really understand how to use what you have.


Focus, Aperture, and Shutter Speed

If your camera or device has a setting that allows you to increase or decrease the aperture, it’s worth experimenting with. Changing the aperture changes the focus of a photo’s background. Smaller apertures make the background fuzzier, which usually helps the in-focus subject of the photo pop out more and gives the photo a sense of greater depth. Depending on the subject and its surroundings, decreasing the aperture can help the photo look more professional, as blurring the background often reduces the visual impact of elements of the photo that would otherwise distract from the subject. Higher apertures are also useful in some situations, such as when photographing landscapes. Learning to use this setting is very helpful when you want to convey a particular amount of depth in your photograph and to take professional-looking pictures in a variety of settings.

Shutter speed is also a very useful tool. Higher shutter speeds are typically useful when photographing moving subjects like wildlife because it helps decrease blurriness. Lower shutter speeds are useful at night because when the shutter is open for longer, it lets in more light, which helps a subject in darkness appear more clearly. However, for low shutter speeds you’ll usually want a tripod or other solid surface to rest the camera on to prevent blurriness.


Lighting and Positioning

To some extent, lighting is determined by the environment—weather conditions, time of day, and so on. Similarly, your subject—particularly in nature photography—may not be something you can put where you want it. But you can move yourself and your camera around to explore different angles and distances, adjusting where the subject is, and how much space it takes up, in the frame. Moving to different angles also changes whether the lighting comes from the back, side, or front of the subject.

Thinking about how you want the lighting to illuminate the subject and where you want the subject in the frame are great ways to take original, creative photos. Try using a unique combination of lighting and positioning to represent the subject in an original way.

Read Professionals’ Advice

Reading books by professional photographers has helped me improve my photography skills. Learning what the professionals have to say can help you understand the technicalities of operating cameras as well as theories and ideas on how to take interesting and creative photographs.


Anna Janowski is a teen volunteer at the Beaverton City Library. She graduated high school in June and this will be her last story for the BRG. We wish her all the best!