Digital Photography Tips For Landscape & Wildlife Photos
Mastered the art of the wide angle yet? Know how to add a spicy kick to those action shots? Browse articles filled with expert digital photography tips. These landscape and wildlife photo techniques will improve your photography in no time.
When the weather turns bad, it's time to get the camera. Even in the winter, there are astonishing images to be had if you‚’re willing to look for them.
My choice of seats on the eastern rim of a 1,000-foot chasm was questionable, but the sandstone boulder was a welcome relief from the long hike I had just made along the rimrock in search of cactus flowers in bloom. It was in the spring season, and wildflowers were blossoming in full color over the northern Texas Panhandle, and I needed images for a Texas Highways article on Panhandle flowering plants. The day had been long, and I was taking a much-needed respite before the 200-mile drive home.
Sometimes changing the exposure just isn't enough to get the shot
An accessory flash may not come to mind initially as an important tool for wildlife photography, but I never go out on a shoot without one. I recommend that you pack a flash in your gear bag before you next venture into the field.
Setting everything on full auto isn't always the ideal solution. Try these tips to get your best shots every time.
Film photographers have known for years the importance of correct exposure. If you overexpose a slide, the highlights are gone irretrievably. If you underexpose a slide, the image will be murky, with no true black tone in the darkest areas. Negative films have a little more leeway, in that you can make some adjustments when printing the negative, but again, the image quality won’t be great if the image is over- or underexposed.
The background can be just as important as the foreground.
For the past 20 years or more, there has been a trend among wildlife photographers, myself included, to minimize the contribution of the background in their photographs by rendering it as low key as possible. By doing so, the subject can be freed from visual competition and stand out clearly.
Start with the basics and your images will keep getting better
The most challenging aspect of teaching landscape photography is that of helping students find a creative voice. One way to think about improving your creativity is to ask yourself, "What do I want to say with my photographs?" It’s important to have something to say, to have a theme or concept within which you can organize the imagery about which you’re most passionate. Think of your favorite photographers, and I’ll guess that you can immediately recall what they’re trying to say with their work. As regular readers of this column know, I’m passionate about the subject of pushing ourselves creatively.
How to get motion blurs that will add a new dimension to your photography
Long exposures can blur moving subjects and portions of scenes into fascinating forms, revealing flows of motion and form that can’t be seen in an image made with a short exposure. All you need is a slow shutter speed, a sturdy camera support and your imagination.
Once, on a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, I was sharing the Sunrise Point Overlook with half a dozen other shooters, all of us lined up with our expensive SLR cameras and carbon-fiber tripods, shooting away as the sun set (yes, it’s called Sunrise Point, but it’s equally spectacular at sunset). As Old Sol hovered over the western horizon behind us, most of the hoodoos in the valley before us fell into shadow while the distant buttes were catching the last rays.
Be versatile, and you can build perspective into your landscape images
One key compositional technique in landscape photography is the use of scale. By including foreground subjects such as rocks or trees or flowers in front of mountains, for example, the photographer can convey depth in the scene, giving a stronger sense of the locale and of "being there." In many uses for photographs, such as editorial use, it’s important to clearly describe the subject. Objects of known size give us clues as to the scale and depth.
Taking super-long exposures with ND filters can add an artistic component to your photography
Fish don’t see water, birds don’t see air, humans don’t see time...but photography does. When a film or digital sensor is exposed to light, a subject is recorded in relation to time. For example, a bird in flight photographed at 1/4000 of a second looks entirely different than if photographed in the same situation at 1/8 of a second. The difference is time. A film or digital sensor can record the passage of time, be it seconds, minutes or hours.
Some of the most difficult action photos to shoot are the quiet moments surrounding the peak action. The quiet action photo, if done right, can capture the essence of the activity in one big shot. Instead of a tight composition on the breaking action, the quiet shot is most often a wider shot. The photo frame brings in elements and activities outside or around the center of the action.
Put your personal creative stamp on even the most overphotographed places
All of us have places we’ve read about, seen pictures of and dreamed about one day visiting, but for one reason or another, the years go by, and we haven’t made that trip. With time, our mental image of that place changes, becomes molded and might even be narrowed by looking at the same photos of the place again and again.
Become a student of light and you become a better photographer
In my last column, I outlined what I consider to be the essential ingredients for a high-quality landscape photograph (OP, April 2007). I mentioned that the quality of light was one of those major ingredients. Certainly, this is an obvious part of good photography, but it merits further discussion. It’s one thing to photograph and hope for the best, even if you go out at the generally optimal times. It's another thing to be a disciple of light, a lifelong student of the nuances of light on the landscape. If you take time to study the lighting conditions that occur at your favorite locations over a long period of time, you’ll be doing what most landscape masters have done: become an expert on those locations.
Getting the exposure right is at least as important when shooting digital as when shooting film
In order to have a proper exposure, how much light needs to hit the image sensor of your camera when you press the shutter release? This is the basic question of exposure, and two factors determine the answer: ƒ-stop and shutter speed. You can let the camera choose these for you or choose them yourself in one of your camera’s manual modes. Either way, the amount of natural light at your location must first be measured—and measured accurately.