Get back to nature with Outdoor Photographer. From landscape photography articles that include the rugged beauty of the West to the bustle of the urban jungle, use our nature and wildlife photo essays to find your next adventure.
Your best images come when you see the photograph as a whole
Why do people climb dangerous mountains, and why are people so obsessed with the quest for adventure? These are common questions among people who don’t climb mountains. And for that matter, I’m also asked about what pushes me to pursue adventure photography. Couldn’t I have opted for any number of less dangerous photo careers?
Discover the diverse photo opportunities in the southern Appalachians
Ranging from northern West Virginia to northern Georgia, the southern Appalachian Mountains have a biodiversity without rival. Combine this with rugged beauty and easy accessibility, and exploring the gifts of spring in these ancient mountains can become a consuming passion. Most areas set aside for recreational use are smaller than those found in the Southwest, but this just means it’s easier to explore more than one area. You won’t be too far from civilization but far enough to feel like Daniel Boone is looking over your shoulder.
For intrepid photographers, Alaska is still the gold standard for untamed landscape and wildlife photography
Alaska is often referred to as the last great wilderness for nature photographers who want to see the big game of North America. Africa’s Serengeti and the Alaskan frontier are in the same class when it comes to the diversity of wildlife and the vast regions of unspoiled habitat that support these animals. Like Africa, it’s not easy to reach North America’s ultimate wilderness, but if you want to see the splendid flora and fauna this special place has to offer, the trek is well worth it. From bald eagles to caribou to whales, every aspect of the landscape offers its own treasure trove of wildlife.
Situated in the village of Yellow Springs about 20 miles east of Dayton in southwestern Ohio, Glen Helen Nature Preserve is an uncommonly beautiful and pristine parcel of land that’s safeguarded as a laboratory for the observation, study and enjoyment of natural ecological processes. Within it, all wildlife, vegetation and rock formations are protected. The preserve consists of approximately 1,000 acres—more than 20 miles of often challenging hiking trails through hills and valleys, two scenic creeks, an attractive waterfall known as the Cascades, several springs (including Yellow Spring, after which the village is named), an enchanting pine forest, and many limestone rock formations and ledges. This spectacular landscape was created by glacial meltwaters around 10,000 years ago.
Mount Shuksan rises in the North Cascades just south of the Canadian border. It’s easily accessible by paved road 55 miles east of Bellingham, Wash., on State Route 542, the Mount Baker Highway. The last 24 miles, from the town of Glacier, has a National Forest Scenic Byway designation. The road winds along the North Fork Nooksack River and climbs to a 5,000-foot elevation at Heather Meadows. This subalpine setting includes several small lakes, a picnic area, visitors center and well-maintained hiking trails. In the winter, it’s a popular developed ski area. From these meadows and Artist Point, a few miles farther, there are excellent views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, including Mount Baker (10,778 feet) and Mount Shuksan (9,131 feet).
Northeastern India is home to a rich palette of culture, wildlife and color
India’s enduring cultures, ancient architecture and stunning landscapes have drawn photographers since the infancy of photography more than 150 years ago. The vibrancy of color, the diversity of wildlife and the beauty of its people have held a special allure to those who not only enjoy traveling to distant locales, but who also hope to experience and make photographs of places whose history is measured not in hundreds, but thousands of years.
Mentally prepare yourself to think like a pro adventure photographer
At first glance, it would seem that unless you’re a full-time adventure athlete, photographing action and adventure photography is something to which you’ll have little opportunity to apply yourself. I believe that nothing could be farther from the truth. When considering the steps to shooting action photos, there are many ways you can use these ideas when practicing and honing your photographic skills far from the mountains or wild rivers.
Rising more than 2,000 feet above the plains, the Flatirons rock formation is the iconic backdrop of Boulder, Colo. These iron-rich sandstone formations were tilted on-end 300 million years ago when continents collided and the ancestral Rockies were uplifted. At 5,430 feet of elevation and 28 miles from Denver, Boulder is where the Great Plains meet the foothills of the Rockies.
Diversity is the textbook definition of Texas. The Lone Star State offers a menagerie of faces that define a natural heritage known to photographers throughout the world. From the palette of color in the flora and mountains along the historical Rio Grande River to the oceanic sky over the undulating grasslands and canyons of big ranch country, Texas offers a variety of locations, subjects and seasons to fit your photographic needs.
The Appalachian Mountains have always served as a source of inspiration for me. Born and raised in the remote recesses of southern West Virginia, these ancient mountains became my mentors as I explored their steep slopes, narrow ridges and constricted valleys. Once I became smitten with nature photography, the Appalachians became my favorite location to explore through a viewfinder.
James Kay has a passion for the grand vistas of autumn in the wide-open spaces of North America
To photograph colorful fall foliage, the conventional wisdom says go to New England, but for photographer James Kay,no place is better in autumn than the American West. Kay, who makes his home in Salt Lake City, has photographed the mountain west for almost 25 years, and he still relishes its grand vistas of vivid autumn color.
Bandhavgarh National Park is one of the best places in the world to see wild tigers. It’s located in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, an 18-hour train ride southeast of New Delhi. The journey by train is the best and easiest way to reach this remote reserve. The nearest airport is six hours away, and you should avoid the pothole-covered roads that lead to Bandhavgarh.
The International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) is devoted to using photography to help people better understand environmental challenges
Special among the ranks of nature photographers is a group of individuals who have dedicated their careers to document not only the beauty of nature, but also the threats facing the world’s most remote wildlands and endangered creatures. Called the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP), members of this newly formed association combine their skills, talent and experience to help save the places all nature photographers cherish.
Crex Meadows is a mix of flowages, wetlands, prairies and forest located in northwest Wisconsin. About 30,000 acres in size, it has an excellent system of gravel roads that allows you to travel the edges as well as cut across the central areas of the park. The easiest way to find the park is by taking Interstate 35 north from Minneapolis, Minn., to Highway 70.
Surrounded by 14,000-foot peaks, Colorado’s San Luis Valley is the largest and highest inhabited alpine valley in the world. Though settled, it’s home to relatively few inhabitants; in fact,a mere 47,000 people live in the basin, a Rocky Mountain wonder tucked between the San Juan Mountains to the west and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east.