10 Tips for your Creative Nature Photography


10 Tips for your Creative Nature Photography


 

Welcome, spring! Nature has awoken from winter and finally shows its beautiful play of colours – simply a dream for photographers. But how does the perfect nature photo come about? Photographer Tamara Skudies is an expert in nature photography. In her pictures she stages the small details and convinces with her expressiveness and uniqueness. Below she has listed her 10 tips for creative nature photography, which may provide every photographer with a little inspiration for his next outdoor walk.

(All pictures courtesy of Tamara Skudies, taken with lenses from Meyer-Optik-Görlitz)

 

11. The staging of nature: It all depends on the right time of day

In addition to the subject to be photographed, one factor in particular is decisive for nature photography: the right light! The perfect light for my subject strongly depends on how I want to show it in my picture. First I make myself concrete thoughts WHAT exactly I want to photograph, WHERE in nature I find this motif and finally HOW I want to show it in my picture. If I have a concrete idea about these three points, the WHEN comes into play. Because for the perfect nature photo it is decisive WHEN the light is so favorable that I capture the light mood ideally. So on my walks I consciously take the time to keep my eyes open. Sometimes I frequently stop in the same spot to study the surroundings. As a result, I often get much better shots than those I take in passing.

 

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2. The surrounding rounds off a picture: The right point of view

Unlike with the light, I often can’t play with the surroundings of my motif and influence the incidence of light. The environment is often static and cannot be customized. So I study the surrounding of my motif. I sneak around it until I see a nice mix of motif and background. For example, I prevent unattractive asphalt roads and boring walls in the background from distracting me from the core of my picture.

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3. The special something: The right choice of colour

One of the most decisive stylistic means when I shoot in nature is the right choice of colour. That’s why I often take advantage of the surroundings and the light. For example, with a beautiful leaf from a pile of autumn leaves in the background, I can set colour accents and pick up on the tonality of the motif.

Foliage can also be used as a kind of colour foil. For example, the sun can shine through coloured leaves on my motif and set an interesting colour accent. These small stylistic devices of nature can give a picture that special something that makes it unique and simply beautiful.

Personally, however, it is important to me not to tear any living plants out of the ground or to break off whole branches – but small modifications are allowed. Another little tip: It can also be very interesting to simply combine contrasting colours – they intensify and create great effects!

 

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4. A few tricks: Adjusting the camera

To really stand out from the large masses of nature photos and to awaken the special in your photography, it takes a little creativity. As always, there are no limits to creativity. Basically every photographer has to find out his or her personal tricks, but I’ll be happy to give you a few ideas to try out: cracked or completely burst filters in combination with back light create wonderful reflections. Vaseline on a protective filter softens specific parts of the image. Targeted flares are created by colorful flashlights, which I use to shine sidways into the image.

There are no limits to creativity – just try everything!

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5. Playing around a little: try different settings

Once I have decided on a motif, I always photograph it in different settings and from different angles. I play with the motif, vary the aperture and the iso. Both have a strong effect on the presentation of the motif and when I’m back home and in front of the screen, I can decide which picture I like most. Sometimes I even have different cameras with me and take analogue and digital photos. It’s not uncommon that one medium works great with the chosen motif, but I become a little disappointed regarding pictures from the other camera. In the end I prefer a variety of pictures instead of being limited afterwards.

76. Use fixed focal lengths lenses

I prefer fixed focal length lensesand almost exclusively take my pictures with them. On the one hand I choose fixed focal length lenses, because they are always produce more light, which gives me more options and scope for the background. But even more important to me is the background image – the bokeh is always cleaner, creamier, nicer and more homogeneous with fixed focal lengths. This also lead me to point 7…

 

7. Try out some accessories

…Fixed focal lengths due to their high aperture and often much better imaging performance, give me a huge benefit: I can work with accessories. I often use extension rings, adapters or converters. These accessories always take some light away from my pictures. Then it is advantageous if the viewfinder of my camera is still bright enough to take my time when focusing. Through the different aids I can tickle out many great character traits from a single lens, which are ultimately reflected in the pictures.

8. Take your time: stay calm and observe

Sometimes I’m out for a walk and directly see a great motif. I shoot picture after picture, but I simply do not succeed in taking the images as I imagine them. That’s frustrating! But over the years I realized that it’s up to me, because I simply don’t have the necessary peace at that moment. Sometimes after waking up I see great light in my garden, already having the breathtaking photo in my mind’s eye and race outside with the cameras in my hand. When my pictures don’t work out right away, it’s often because I’m too hectic. I don’t take enough time to look at the motifs and the surroundings. Then I have to breathe deeply, let my thoughts run free and try again after 50 metres. Nature photos live on emotions and energies – I can only transport them if I see and feel them. If my mood isn’t right, the photos won’t work either. Then I’ll just try another day. Nature photos should be fun. 🙂
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9. Back home again: giving photos the finishing touch

Actually, none of my photos go unedited online or to print. Because post-processing can also be fun. Either I use especially colourful or modified films that i.e. have expired, or I deal with aids (point 4). When I photograph digitally, I still have an additional design tool at my disposal with image processing programs. I can adapt series to each other, change colors and create collages. I love this! And here again: try everything!

The commercially available programs give me almost countless possibilities to work on my pictures. In today’s world of photography there are an infinite number of photographs – and they all look the same. Let’s be colorful, crazy and different! The world is colorful! And that’s what I want to show with my pictures!

10. Finishing: Medium at print

In my opinion, pictures should be shown! What uses the most beautiful picture when it stays cooped on a computer? That’s why I print out all the photos I like. Today I have so many creative options with an infinite number of paper types, film types, programs and techniques at my disposal. However, a photographer also has to deal with the possibilities here: A colourful flower photo is more suitable for a glossy paper and a FineArt ink printer with CMYK and RGB inks – a dreamy, homogeneously coloured landscape photo maybe fits better on a canvas and a scanned analogue photo behind an acrylic glass pane. Which print media you like best is of course a matter of taste and left to yourself – but I would argue that not every motif looks optimal on every medium. And again, I can only give the tip: Just try it out… This is how I always do it 🙂

Last but not least I wish you a lot of fun and joy in nature. Grab your camera and just go out in the field. There’s so much to discover! 😉


(All pictures courtesy of Tamara Skudies, taken with lenses from Meyer-Optik-Görlitz)

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