written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 4/11/2011
Nature and landscape photography help us capture our natural world in pictures. But, how do you get started? What equipment do you need? Learn more in this digital photography tutorial.
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Nature Photography Overview
Nature and landscape photography involves capturing the natural world at its best. Nature photography means taking pictures of everything from animals to sunsets to mountains. What is involved in this type of photography and what equipment do you need?
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It may be best to start with the required equipment. You definitely need a good digital SLR camera. A point-and-shoot camera is just not going to be able to do what you need it to. For one thing, you cannot change out the lenses. For nature and landscape photography, you generally need both a wide angle and telephoto lens.
A wide-angle lens is necessary to get the sweeping vistas of landscapes. These lenses add a lot of depth to your images and help you capture more of the scene. If you want to take pictures of animals, you need to be able to zoom in as close as possible. This means a telephoto lens. If you are first starting out, a 55 mm wide angle and a 200 mm zoom lens work great. If you plan to pursue this as a career, then you need to pop for the more expensive lenses.
If you are planning to purchase a very large telephoto lens, invest in a good tripod. You cannot handle the weight of lens by yourself, resulting in extremely blurry photographs. As you zoom into items, you increase the chance that your images will be blurry, and any little shake of the hand will exaggerate the blur.
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When and Where
Now that you know the equipment you need consider when and where to take your pictures. Early morning and late afternoon make for the best lighting. Cloudy days also work quite well since the light is filtered and soft. The middle of the day creates harsh shadows, and it tends to wash out your images.
Besides the lighting, there is another advantage to morning and afternoon images: sunrise and sunsets. When you are already taking photographs of a dramatic landscape, the coloring just makes those landscapes that much more interesting.
Always find your spot way before you want to take your photographs. A high point overlooking a vista works, but you often need to hike to those locations. The same goes for wildlife photography. An animal is not going to find you. You have to find it. That often means heading up a trail and going to a water source. Animals also generally come out only during the late afternoon or early morning.
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Do Your Homework
Before you head to a location, do your homework. Look at photographs from photographers who have been there, and think about how you can take that picture differently. Talk to locals to find the best points. Moreover, always be prepared. Have backup batteries and plenty of memory cards on hand at all times. You do not know when you will just happen upon a perfect picture opportunity.