Find a great location, match it with a good lighting, and shoot. Taking a good landscape photo might seem like the easiest thing in the world.
Well, think again. This type of photography requires conforming to nature completely and obeying its rules. You need to take the weather conditions, unpredictable movement and rough terrain into account, among other things.
In short, you need to work in harmony with the nature for the perfect photo.
Nature photography is a job like no other and it requires a unique lifestyle. Landscape and wildlife photographers live and breathe nature. They often spend months on the road in search of perfect locations and perfect shots.
That's why this profession is more than just traveling around looking for gorgeous landscapes and chasing exotic animals.
It is standing in one place for hours, waiting for the perfect moment, the perfect lighting and composition. The weather conditions are often not pleasant - it's raining, snowing or it's humid and insanely hot. It is putting yourself in danger to snap a shot of a gorilla or a lion.
On top of all that, it is risking your life by shooting in the desolate areas with deadly diseases lurking.
That's why safety should be your main priority wherever you find yourself. Make sure to stay protected from bad weather, rain and cold, with a waterproof, breathable jacket like the one designed by The North Face. This cool jacket is perfect for any type of adventure in the great outdoors.
The biggest challenge of this business is staying constantly inspired. Sometimes it takes hours or even days to get the shot you want. You have to keep finding inspiration in the same setting, you have to stay fascinated by the animals, and make a lot of bad shots until you get the right one.
This process of trial and error is an indispensable part of nature photography, and you need to get used to it. You need to love the process. And you need to realize that patience is much more important than the expensive equipment.
Knowing your subjects to the core is essential, especially when photographing animals. That's why nature photography starts much earlier than at the actual spot.
It all begins with research so you know where to find the animals, which equipment to take, and how to stay safe. By knowing the animals' behaviour, you can predict their movements to capture them at the right moment.
Unlike anything else, this fascinating hobby will take your breath away over and over again. Stunning sights will be all around you to the point where you get lost about what is worth capturing; and, more importantly, what you need to let go.
Surrounded by such beauty day after day may even lead you to the point where you can't find anything new to capture. So, how do you find inspiration after months on the road?
From time to time, put the camera down. Take a break for a day or two when you find yourself in the city. Many lensmen keep walking around with their cameras, constantly taking shots. It's easy to lose motivation and get bored with your own photos this way.
Just leave your camera at home. Take a walk and just enjoy the view. Rely on your senses to experience your surroundings, and you will suddenly see the world from a new perspective. Tune in to some other senses and use the sound and smell to experience the landscape from a different angle.
Use this time to take a look at the work you've already done and review it.
If a break sounds too radical, here's another idea - limit yourself to five photos a day. It may sound impossible, but it's the perfect challenge to sharpen your senses and increase the quality. By shooting less, you will need to be more creative and thoughtful about what is actually worth capturing and what doesn't make the cut.
Creating a specific project is another tactic that could help you increase the quality and make more focused shots. Shoot only flowers, animals or minimalistic landscapes. Use the lens you don’t normally use for a month. Or, give yourself a 365 challenge and focus on creating one fantastic snap every day for a year.
When you get tired of seeing the same sights, or find yourself in a highly photographed spot, give your photos a twist. Concentrate only on the details that fascinate you - being it the light, the contrast of colours, or unusual patterns. Dare to do something different. Use a different lens, shoot at night, or try macro photography when working with animals.
Art in nature is specific and it requires specific equipment. The essentials are the camera, lenses, flash and filters. But, there are some additional pieces of gear and accessories that professional nature photographers can't live without.
The first one is a telephoto lens. Professionals can't imagine their work day without one. Telephoto lenses allow capturing distant subjects with amazing clarity and speed. They help you catch some shots from a great distance, but also stabilize the photos, switch the focus, and create incredibly sharp and detailed snaps even when you can't get close to your subject.
Nature photography involves a lot of waiting. But, holding the camera in position while you wait is absolutely impossible without a tripod. The tripod has to be light enough to carry around, but strong enough to support the heavy telephoto lenses. Sometimes a tripod is not going to be sufficient, and you will also need a gimbal head designed specifically to support the lens, and help you position it.
Get ready to scan the landscape for hours before you catch what you came for. However, staying glued to your camera for that long would be super-uncomfortable. That's why all pros use binoculars or a monocular, optimally with a 10x magnification.
Before you head out, you need to be prepared for all unpredictable situations. A durable, water-resistant backpack that can fit the heavy gear is a must for every photographer. Patagonia Black Hole Backpack 25L is a perfect choice for the enthusiasts who are not yet ready for the professional backpack.
You don't want unexpected rain to damage your expensive equipment. Always carry a rain cover for your camera and lens. It’s often bulky but it doesn't take up that much space in your backpack, and it can be a life saver. Also, consider concealing your gear with a camo lens coat.
Tripod is essential for staying in one place and waiting for the shot. But, you need to have a camera holster when you are on the move, chasing the perfect scene. A holster attached to your waist takes the weight off your shoulders and makes your camera always ready when you need it.
Don't forget to stay energized and hydrated while you thread through nature. A S'well Wood insulated bottle is inspired by nature, and extremely handy for those long hours you will spend behind the camera.
You may have the best, most expensive gear out there, but your photos still might end up average. For extraordinary work, you have to learn how to get out of your comfort zone and keep trying new things. That's when the amazing shots happen.
Here are some tips our photographers at Benny's Boardroom shared.
When it comes to creating a great composition, you need to pay attention to the details. The details you leave out are just as important as the details you include in the frame. Don’t go overboard trying to fit as much as possible because you will take the attention from the main subject.
Focus on the part of the scene that first caught your eye and then work from there. With a digital camera, you have the luxury of trying out different compositions until you find the one that works best.
You know those photos of famous sites that all look like one and the same shot taken from slightly different angles? When you find the location you want to shoot, take a moment to come up with a new viewpoint instead of going for the most obvious shot; one that you've seen a hundred times before.
Here's another awesome idea - shoot in the bad weather. There is a certain appeal to shooting sunny landscapes. But, there is a good reason why all landscape photographers get giddy at the thought of a storm. The colours, textures and lights are much more spectacular in the eye of the storm, making these snapshots incredibly captivating.
Just make sure you stay safe and protect your gear from the rain before you go outside chasing the storm.
Lastly, always be ready for the unexpected. Nature will surprise you, amaze you and leave you in awe, but be certain that you can't control it. The only thing you can do is arm yourself with high-quality gear, knowledge of nature and wildlife, and a lot of patience.
Even with no experience in landscape and wildlife photography, this is a proven recipe for the outstanding shots.