Nature photography is more popular than ever now that digital cameras have made it so easy for anyone to enjoy. With so many photographers out there, it can be tough to produce images that are truly distinctive.
If you want to make some money from nature photography, or even make it your living, your photography must offer something special. It is not enough for your photos to be 'good.' There is more than enough 'good' photography out there already. Your photos need to be unique and distinctive, or they simply won't be noticed.
Here are five tips to help you rise to the challenge.
Nature Photography Tip #1
Concentrate On Nature, Not Just Technology. In the digital age there is an increasing emphasis on the latest technology; so much so that some people tend to rely on the camera (and the computer) to do the work for them. While it is understandable that people are drawn to photography by their love of technology, good nature photography really requires a more old-fashioned approach.
Understanding the light is paramount. You really need to learn how to capture your photo in the best possible light, which means picking the ideal weather conditions, and the right time of day for each subject. Spending time observing the light and how it works in a photo will make you a much better photographer than someone who thinks technology is the key to good photography.
Nature Photography Tip #2
Look For Unique Moments. Never forget that every idea you have has already been had by someone else, and every subject you photograph has been photographed by a thousand people before you. The truth is, it is easy to take a decent photo; that's why there are so many of them on the market. The trick is to take something exceptional.
This is all about timing. With landscapes, you need to look for an unusual angle or a spectacular sky. Your photo must be well lit (see tip #1) but it must also capture a feature or a moment that will make viewers think "Wow, I have never seen it photographed like that before!"
Nature Photography Tip #3
Get To Know Your Local Environment. When you are travelling, capturing a unique moment takes a bit of luck. In terms of unusual weather, you really have to take your chances along with the rest of the tourists. Closer to home, however, you have an unfair advantage over everyone else. You may be in a unique position to be on-site at special moments other photographers can only dream of.
Get to know your local landmarks. Find the best lookouts and the quickest shortcuts to get there. Identify which time of day is best for each location. Then listen to weather reports and keep an eye on the sky. When you see something special start to build (a dark storm cloud, maybe the chance of a rainbow etc), grab your camera, get into position, and wait for your moment to arrive. In time, you could build a collection of photos of your local landscapes that is second to none.
Nature Photography Tip #4
Be Patient And Persevere. As I said earlier, it is easy to take a good photo; it is not so easy to take something truly special. A lot of things have to fall into place to get a perfect shot, so don't be disappointed when your first attempts yield little result. You may need to visit the same place over and over again, until you find the stroke of luck that creates your great photo opportunity. Professional nature photographers are prepared to put in this extra effort for a shot. Once you get that once-in-a-lifetime image it will all seem worth it.
When the moment comes, take a lot of photos. You really need to make the most of a great opportunity, and every scene can produce a myriad of possible images. Remember that in the digital world, it costs nothing to keep snapping, so you can afford to really do justice to the moment.
Nature Photography Tip #5
Perfect Your Technique. You can wait days or weeks for a great photo opportunity, but when the moment arrives it can come and go in a matter of minutes. You don't want to waste time trying to work out your apertures and shutter speeds. Practice your skills at every opportunity, and really get to know your camera.
You don't need to know every tiny feature of the menu. The essentials of good photography are the same as always; aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focus etc. The more practice you put in, the easier and more instinctive it will become. Then when your special moment arrives, you can put your energy into creativity instead of fumbling with camera settings.
Andrew Goodall's top selling ebooks on photography for beginners have already helped thousands of people learn the skills better photography. Find them at http://www.naturesimage.com.au and sign up the online newsletter for even more tips...it's free!