The BASICS of Nature Photography
Written by: Tiffany Joyce
5 key points to consider:
1. Whatever your subject matter in Nature may be, take the time to research it… thoroughly. Having a working knowledge of your subject will allow you to plan for the expected and the unexpected. Animate, or inanimate, it makes no difference. Consider everything that might be helpful to know about the subject. A few examples might be:
· Is the subject shy or is it readily available to be seen?
· Is the animal Nocturnal?
· What distance will you be from the subject?
· Will a blind or a hide be necessary to photograph the subject?
· Will special equipment be required?
· Will weather be a factor?
· What will be your lighting source and where will it be located?
Some of these may seem unnecessary to you. The real point here is to be prepared for anything that may happen. Getting there and not coming home with the photograph you hoped for can be frustrating and expensive.
2. Equipment – prepare it properly and take only what you will need. If you have researched your subject properly, you will be able to put together a fairly accurate list of equipment necessary to bring home the shot. Carrying 75 pounds of equipment anywhere is a huge strain on you physically, and it will also take its toll on you mentally. Trim your equipment list to the basics and use it. Do not sacrifice quantity for quality. A good photographer will be able to utilize and emphasize the benefits of every piece of equipment they carry. Always prepare you r equipment before departure and double check it before use. With today’s digital cameras being completely battery dependent you should make sure your batteries are charged regularly and consistently. Carry spares with you or use devices with redundant battery setups built in. It is your responsibility to make sure your equipment is in top working order and you have sufficient battery power to get the picture and bring the shot home. Today’s technology allows a prepared photographer to carry a small power inverter in their vehicle that will accept one or two AC charging devices for keeping your batteries fresh.
3. Proper clothing will not guarantee you getting the shot you hoped for – it will however assist you in making you comfortable enough to not have to worry about the leaking seam in your jacket, the numbness in your toes from cold and wet feet, or the lack of feeling in your fingertips in freezing weather. Any or all of these can be enough to discourage you and possibly shorten your photo shoot in the outdoors. Whenever possible wear layers of lighter clothing with insulating and wicking qualities. This will keep you warm and dry in most instances and allow you to adapt to changing conditions as you encounter them. Several pairs of quality gloves are invaluable. I carry several pair in my bag, one with fingertips and one without.
4. Plan a list of shots you want to capture and shoot to this list – this is another be prepared speech. If you know what you are hoping to capture with your photography, you will be more direct in your approach and will strive to capture those shots. You will certainly shoot others to get what you want, but having a list of what you want to go home with will allow your creativity to take over once you start shooting.
Copyright 2010 Kendall Adams
5. Use a bag that is easily carried and makes your equipment accessible when you need it. There is a huge selection of camera bags available in today’s marketplace. Each has its finer points, some finer than others. My best advice to you is to choose a manufacturer you know has a quality product and then evaluate the possible options in their line for your personal needs. Most working photographers have a small closet somewhere in their homes or offices that house years of those “gotta have” camera bags. But when you look at the photographers working bag, they are carrying the tried and true version that carries everything they need in a convenient, secure, and accessible way. It may or may not be pretty, but it works! Take into account any special needs you may have in a camera bag. Make sure your choice is comfortable to carry. If it’s not comfortable you will not carry it! (This is where the collection of bags in the closet begins).
You may have noticed that no particular photographic techniques were discussed here. If you haven’t prepared properly there will be little time or desire to continue shooting. There are as many techniques to shoot various scenes and animals in nature as there are species of animals. These techniques are learned over time and are the direct results of personal experience. We’ll discuss some of these techniques in an upcoming article. For now, start researching and planning your nature shots; when the time comes you’ll be prepared and able to concentrate fully on capturing the best shots possible.
Kendall Adams is a Photographic and Commercial artist having lived in the Greenwood area for more than 24 years. Photography became his lifelong hobby and avocation early on, starting with newspapers, yearbooks, and sports photography.
Available for freelance assignments in commercial or technical areas, Kendall is also available for Nature, Fine Art, Portraiture, and other forms of photography. You can contact him through his website.
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