7 Tips for Spectacular Nature Photos
Posted by Jessica Reaves - freelance writer for Tauck
Posted in: Travel Tips
Tags: How-To, Photos, Canada
It’s surprisingly easy to capture the beauty of the world’s great natural landscapes when you follow James Hutchison’s simple photo tips. A veteran landscape and nature photographer who has spent years in the shadows of the majestic Canadian Rockies, Hutchison often gives guests pointers during Tauck’s Canadian Rockies tours. Wherever your travels may take you, Hutchison’s advice can help transform your photography from ordinary to extraordinary. Ansel Adams, watch out.
1. Use equipment you know well. When faced with stunning scenery, don’t try to break in a brand-new camera with lots of complicated settings. "The camera and lens combination should be something the shooter is comfortable with," Hutchison says. "All cameras and lenses do basically the same job, and shooting with something unfamiliar will spoil the photographer's creativity."
2. Don't worry about spending a lot on your camera, unless you plan to meet up with fairly serious weather. "Some of my best shots were taken with consumer-level equipment," Hutchison says. "That said, professional cameras, which are sealed against dust and water, do tend to stand up better to challenging environmental conditions."
3. For sharpness, use a tripod. "You can also use a remote release or timer, and if your camera has mirror lock-up, use that as well, but be sure to deactivate image stabilization," says Hutchison.
4. Perspective is often difficult to achieve in nature shots, because you want to eliminate anything manmade. Power lines and highways, while unsightly, do help give a sense of depth, and emphasize the size of the landscape features. Instead Hutchison recommends choosing an interesting natural foreground element to provide a sense of depth to your photographs.
5. Try to shoot mountains like the Canadian Rockies at first light. "The lighting is magical this time of day," Hutchison says. "Usually the water is still, acting as a mirror for those gorgeous mountains."
6. Now for Hutchison's really technical advice: Take several shots of the same image – one underexposed, one medium exposure, and one overexposed. Shoot in RAW, at the highest resolution possible. When you're back at your computer, you can use your imaging software (iPhoto, Photoshop) to sharpen edges, combine exposure levels and, of course, crop.
7. Hutchison's parting advice: Be prepared to ignore every last bit of this advice. "If you see something that catches your eye, break all the rules,” he says. “Photography is about what YOU see. Learn the basics, then get creative.”