NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY IN SHARP FOCUS
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Do you want to capture creative nature photography? Not the kind of nature photography you’ve seen hundreds of times. But original, striking, breathtaking nature photos?
Here’s the thing: Capturing original nature photos might seem like a struggle. But there are actually a few simple ways that you can start doing creative nature photography–right now!
In this article, you’ll discover 6 ways that you can consistently capture creative nature photos. Let’s get started.
If you want to capture stunning macro photos…why not start by using a black background?
You see, one of the main reasons why nature photos fail is because they have messy backgrounds. But if you make sure to include a black background, you’ll avoid this problem–while making your subject really pop off the screen. Black macro photography backgrounds are especially great for brightly colored subjects. Bonus points if your subject is white!
Now, there are a few ways that you can create black backgrounds. Here is how you do it indoors:
The second way to create a black background requires some careful work in the field. You have to find a subject that’s sitting bright light–and is in front of a dark-colored background (one that’s in the shade). Then, if you underexpose your subject, the background will be rendered nearly black. You can take it the rest of the way in post-processing–and you can lighten up your main subject just a touch.
Here’s one of my favorite techniques for creative nature photography: Use intentional camera movement.
Let me explain:
Intentional camera movement (ICM) requires a long shutter speed–and involves moving your camera when you take a photo. When done carefully, ICM results in a subtle, pleasing blur. And it’s a fantastic technique for getting truly unique images.
But how do you do intentional camera movement the right way?
Now, I recommend that you take lots of pictures and pan your camera in multiple directions. Repeatedly check the results on your LCD–and make adjustments accordingly. However, as a starting point, you should pan your camera along the lines of your subject. So if your subject is a stand of trees, pan your camera down (parallel to the tree trunks). If your subject is a flower, move your camera down the stem.
The best intentional camera movement photos tend to strike a balance. They offer some abstract blur. But they also show some definable features. Bottom line? Whenever you get the chance to shoot ICM photos, go for it. It may require a bit of patience, but the results will be worth it.
Freelensing is one of the most valuable tools in a nature photographer’s toolbox. Why? Because you can capture stunning images–that are far different than standard DSLR or Mirrorless photos. You see, freelensing allows you to change the plane of focus of your photography. It results in certain parts of the photo being blown out of focus. And that’s how you can capture truly artistic photos.
But how do you do freelensing? Fortunately, freelensing doesn’t require any extra equipment. But I highly recommend you use a backup camera and lens (50mm works well). This is because freelensing exposes your sensor to the outside world.
Here’s what you do:
Couple of things to note:
Now, when it comes to doing freelensed nature photography, I recommend you find a clear subject. Get close to that subject–and then experiment with different planes of focus. I’d also recommend choosing your background carefully. If you find a colorful background, freelensing will create some really interesting bokeh.
Just make sure you play around with this setup, and you’re guaranteed to get some unique nature photos.
This tip is basic, but it bears keeping in mind. Another way to capture gorgeous nature photos? Use reflections.
I recommend you seek out reflective surfaces–such as lakes and puddles of water. But make sure the water is deep enough that no ground is poking through.
Some more advice: To get the best reflections, you have to shoot your subject at a downward angle. If you get too parallel to the water, the reflection will be lost.
I’m a big fan of these in bird photography. If you can capture a beautiful bird plus a reflection, you’ll get a truly stunning image. I suggest you put the surface of the water (that is, the line of symmetry) in the middle of the frame. This will emphasize both the subject and the reflection. But you should also experiment with other compositions. Try putting the line of symmetry along one of the rule of thirds gridlines, and see what happens!
Now, you can capture reflections in two ways:
I suggest that you try to keep the photo as simple as possible, because you don’t want to confuse the viewer. If you can pull that off, then your reflection photos will be beautiful.
If you’re still struggling to find creative compositions, don’t worry. Because I have another trick for you: Shoot through an object.
Let me explain:
Because here’s the idea: If you put an object between your camera and your subject, but you focus on the subject…you’ll get a beautiful wash of color in the foreground. And this will really add to the photo. It will enhance the subject–and it won’t take away from the overall image. Generally, vegetation is the best thing to shoot through. Plus, you can find it almost anywhere.
When I’m shooting flowers, I love to shoot through the petals of nearby flowers. When I’m shooting birds, I like to get down low in the grass. That way, I can photograph through the vegetation and get a beautiful wash of green. That’s why I love this technique. It captures unique, gorgeous photos.
Here’s a final tip for original nature photography. If you want truly stunning images, try including an ‘echoed’ subject in the background.
What do I mean by this?
Once you’ve chosen your subject, look for a second, identical subject in the background. And make sure that the second subject appears–but out of focus. This works best in flower photography, where you have a lot of control over your subjects. It creates a balanced composition, one with lots of gorgeous color.
Now, I recommend you use a very wide aperture, so as to blow the background out of focus.
I also recommend you avoiding including too many ‘echoed’ subjects in the background. Two works great. Three might still be okay. But lots of subjects will just cause chaos. And your photos won’t work.
Just remember: Find a subject, and include something similar in the background. You’ll love the resulting photos.
Now you know how to capture creative, unique nature photos.
You’ve discovered the secrets to tricks such as freelensing, intentional camera movement, and ‘shooting through.’ You also know how to create gorgeous backgrounds. Now it’s your turn–to get out and shoot! If you use these tips and tricks, I guarantee your photos will be amazing.
Have any more tips, tricks, or secrets for creative nature photography? Share them in the comments!
Jaymes is a nature photographer from Ann Arbor, Mi. To learn how to take stunning nature photos, check out Jaymes's free eBook, Mastering Nature Photography: 7 Secrets for Stunning Nature Photos!