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Landscape and Nature Photography: A Comprehensive Guides

Nature photography can be a way for people to disconnect from their busy lives and enjoy being outdoors. We share tips to have awesome landscape shooting.

Nature photography can be a way for people to disconnect from their busy lives and enjoy being outdoors.

Nothing can compare to the majestic beauty and power of nature. The beauty of impossible rock formations, the expanse of vast beaches, or the fairytale feel that canopied trees give off never ceases to amaze even the most seasoned landscape and nature photographers.

Capturing a breathtaking photograph is an art. Nature shots require an in-depth understanding of scale and how to best use the time of day. 

For some, photography is a long, tiring process. Others may want to see the beauty right in front of them. While some people long to become professional photographers full-time, others want to keep it a hobby.

No matter your ambitions, the steps for improving your photography capturing are the same.

This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about landscape and nature photography.

It will make you understand how to sharpen your skills and take better photos.

Here is a complete guide for beginner photographers looking to capture breathtaking images while exploring the earth.

(Download aerial landscape images here)

The Difference Between Landscape and Nature Photography

Nature photography is a broad term. It can encompass all aspects of nature, such as mountains, oceans, and urban environments. It is crucial to look closely to distinguish between them.

The Meaning of Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is photography done outdoors. It is not the same as Nature photography.

Landscape photography often captures stunning natural scenes, including a mountain range, a peaceful field, and a river flowing by – untouched except by the photographer.

What is Nature Photography?

Nature photography is photography that captures natural forms within their natural habitat. Any subject can include the ocean, deserts, and even insects.

Its definition covers all subjects photographed and found naturally, without human intervention. But it is often restricted to wildlife and landscapes.

It is not enough to go out and take pictures of nature. You also need to know how to control lighting, composition, and exposure to capture the spirit of what you are photographing.

Types of Nature Photography

Nature photography covers a large section of photography and consists of every natural occurrence, whether indoor or outdoor.

They include landscape, animals, beach photography, plants and flowers, insects and bugs, trees, and other forms of natural phenomenon.

Photographic point of view can go from exceptional full-scale photography to extensive landscape-style photos. 

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It is not like fine art photography or documentary photography that involves an artist’s interpretation or a subject matter, but it gives pleasure through beauty. It expresses the brilliance of nature through profundity, shading, and a different perspective.

This photography genre is a broad term with numerous sub-categories, such as Wildlife, Plants, Landscapes, Seascapes, and many more.

Let us consider the most common types:

Wildlife Photography includes all untamed animals from penguins to lions, bugs to elephants, and tiny aquatic animals to dolphins. 

Wildlife photographers strive to take photos of their subjects in their habitats. 

Plant Photography comprises all plant life and vegetation from trees to bushes, flowers to veggies, or forests.

At times, plant photography blends only with still-shots, close-shots, and largescale photography. Plant photography showcases exceptional close-ups of flowers as one of its most popular themes.

Landscape Photography captures the beautiful environment like land, dawn, mountain, and its ranges, steppes, waterfalls, coastal areas, and dusks. 

It is common to avoid human presence when taking the shots since it only involves capturing raw and fresh scenes.

Seascape Photography captures the lakes, rivers, sea, ocean, and other water formations. Human presence may reflect in this form of photography. 

There are several pleasant unrestricted scenes of the ocean with ships or dolphins. Seascapes link to the coastal region category, which would comprise tropical scenes, coastline, beaches, and a reflection of sunrise or sunset.

The sub-categories are also massive and are independent categories from nature. Regardless of how bulky they could get, they still fall under nature photography. 

What Camera is Best for Nature Photography?

Taking a nature photography shot is better with a DSLR or mirrorless camera.

  • Mirrorless and DSLR cameras have the best control over camera settings. It makes it possible to create professional-looking photographs.
  • A mirrorless or DSLR camera allows the photographer to swap lenses.
  • If you use a DSLR, I recommend buying a quality wide-angle lens.
  • For dramatic shots, use a wide-angle lens. Nikon’s 14-24mm is better. 
  • Use a zoom lens or Telephoto lens for more detailed and close-up photos, such as Canon’s 70 to 200mm.
  • Try different focal lengths (the distance of the lens from the sensor on the camera) to create different views.

What Lenses are the Best for Nature Photography?

The most important consideration when choosing a nature photography camera is the lens. A wide-angle lens with a focal length of 18 to 35mm is ideal for it. This type of lens allows you to capture beautiful landscapes with a broad field of vision.

For landscape photography, a standard zoom lens is an option.

There are many ultra-wide-angle zooms available, but they usually have integrated hoods. It extends the barrel to protect the front optical component.

Without an adapter, such as the Lee Filters SW150 mark II, fitting filters with nature capabilities may be difficult.

A lens should have a minimum focal distance of at least 5 meters, an additional hood, and a filter thread. The maximum angle of vision will allow you to fit a large landscape in your image frame without distortion.

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It can lead to a greater distance between the background and the foreground than is necessary.

A zoom lens is always a good choice. You don’t need multiple lenses or have to change them frequently. 

Although most zooms with a wide-angle focal length will have an aperture of f/2.8, the top-end models are more expensive. If you take landscape photography, you might not need to shoot wide-open.

If you are not bothered about the focal length, you will save money on the size and weight of your lens.

At a fraction of the price, lenses with apertures of f/4 can still produce sharp images with accurate reproduction of color. You will be able to carry your kit for longer distances, and they will appear lighter.

Do you Need a Tripod for Nature Photography?

A tripod is essential for nature photographers. Manfrotto makes a professional-grade tripod at an affordable price. A tripod’s primary function is to extend the reach of the photographer. It stabilizes the camera and allows you to take the exact shot you desire.

The accessory is perfect for night photography and low-light situations. Because of its steadiness, you can lower shutter speeds without sacrificing ISO or grain.

It is also helpful to experiment with angles. Depending on the landscape, you may decide to photograph from the top, across, or bottom to create the desired effect.

What is the Best Setting for Nature Photography?

A competent photographer knows how to adjust exposure and aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

Light and weather conditions can change abruptly, so it is crucial to be comfortable.

  • The lens’ aperture is the area that lets in light.
  • Shutter speed is the amount of light received by the lens.
  • ISO increases brightness. But, ISO might add grain depending on the strength of the light. You should know the difference between ISO and ISO higher with their benefits and drawbacks.

The exposure is the light that enters a camera sensor after setting the aperture, shutter speed, ISO. The manual mode controls every element separately. Aperture priority favors the lens opening above others, while the automatic mode adjusts each component.

Setting up your Camera

Nature photos focus on the subject. Aperture Priority mode is the best camera mode settings for nature photography.

The mode lets you keep your shutter speed while maintaining the aperture at its widest setting. It allows you to capture everything in front.

It is also possible to shoot in Shutter Priority mode (which lets you adjust the shutter speed) or Bulb Mode (for setting the duration that the shutter stays open).

These modes are worth trying before setting your camera to Aperture Priority mode.

Focusing on the Subject

Nature photography relies on wide-angle lenses, a large depth field, and wide apertures to capture the subject. Adjusting the opening to an f-stop brings the image to a focus.

  • For focusing, use the gridlines of your screen or viewfinder.
  • Begin at the top of the frame or bottom. Be open to trying different things.
  • Although some photographs emphasize the foreground (known as a shallow field of focus or portrait effect), the vast majority of landscape photography captures all the scenes at once.
  • If you struggle to focus on the entire frame, you can always take several shots and layer them together in Photoshop.

The Right Time to take Nature Photography

The best time to capture a nature photo is when there are fewer shadows to ruin a picture.

I love photographing landscapes at dawn/dusk, as these are my favorite times of the day. But you can also get some incredible results anytime during daylight.

There are things you can do regardless of when you took the photos.

  • Use good lighting. You should avoid dark areas and shoot in the direction that the sun is shining.
  • Watch out for clouds as they may influence the sky.
  • Use a tripod to steady your camera. It is crucial when shooting at slow shutter speeds.

The Making of Nature Photography

Most nature photographs are for travel, cultural, or scientific publications but are the best illustrations of fine art photography where the value of a picture is aesthetics.

The purpose is to showcase the beauty of our natural environment, natural parks, nature, and the creatures living in them. It takes a good knowledge of different factors for a nature photographer to capture breathtaking moments in the way they should be. 

Apart from the bulky photographic equipment, which includes different lenses, protective camera cases for underwater capturing, and tripods, they have to study the animal species or the landscape they intend to capture. 

Some locations may require a permit before entering, and as a nature photographer, you have to respect the animal’s way of living. 

The photographer has to spend some time on a single spot or maybe some days and wait for the right moment. It means they need to carry a gear bag that contains food, a tent, warm clothes, and camouflage.

Capturing that perfect winning shot you have been waiting for is a combination of skills and luck, which will evoke different emotions in its beauty. Taking macro shots of plants or insects is all about details and close-ups.

These creatures are too tiny for the human eye to see. So, with the macro imagery, we can appreciate their nature greatly, which introduces us to a new world we never knew existed.     

Post-processing Nature Photos in Photoshop and Lightroom

Nature photography is about capturing the beauty of nature and scenes under natural light. Therefore, it is crucial to post-process your photos to get the best out of them. HDR (High- Dynamic Range) processing is an excellent choice for this photography genre. You can bring out the details of the dark and lighter areas in your photo.

These are a few of the post-processing tools necessary for all types of nature photography.

  • Converting images to black and white will help you focus on the scenery.
  • Increasing contrast
  • Use noise reduction to get cleaner looking photos
  • Color levels are adjusted to give everything an orange/yellow tint
  • Adding vignettes gives your photos a consistent look.
  • Digital artifacts, including sensor dust spots, can be removed.

How to Make Money with Nature Photography

Once you have a plan, start looking into all the elements. What are the ways of selling photos on the internet? Or how to exhibit them in galleries and exhibitions?

This step is critical as it will influence the photos you may take. Photographs that showcase an experience are necessary if you are selling to magazines.

It could mean that you include a hiker in the landscape image. Prints will require a clean photo for a flat surface.

There are three common ways to make a living from it.

  1. You can sell it directly to publications and newspapers or as a stock image through online platforms such as Getty. 
  2. Make prints using your photos for sale
  3. Get commissions from clients for an assignment

Each of these images will require a unique approach and slightly different types.

How Do I Make My Nature Photography Portfolio Stand Out?

Once you have taken all your beautiful nature photos, it is time to put them together in an online portfolio. How can you decide which photos to include?

Although a portfolio is essential for serious photographers, it does not mean you should include every image you have ever taken. You need to select the best pictures.

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You might decide to use one or two photos of each subject and not a bunch of images from each session. Pick the most memorable pictures and display them.

You might limit the number of pictures to 20 so that your visitors are not overwhelmed. Choose a website builder that offers templates, which will allow you to create galleries to organize your photos the way your visitors will admire them.

Nature photography can add value to your business. For those just starting a career in photography, this niche may be the best option to help you build your portfolio. Although it may take time to grow your business, there is great potential.