Nature photography is probably one of the most popular genres of photography. Though most photographers concentrate on getting great landscape shots, there are special group of nature photography fans who like photographing trees. Photograph a tree? Yes, most people don’t consider trees as interesting photo subjects and they couldn’t be more mistaken. By the time you reach the end of this article you’ll pick up at least a handful of tricks that will make your images of trees fantastic.
Photographing Trees – Composition Tips
Isolate Your subject
A tree is a majestic being (remember the scene from the Lord of Rings!), hence having them fill the frame or isolating them from other disturbing elements makes your composition very strong. It could be difficult to come across lonely trees you say, but the fact is you can locate them at the edges of woody areas. There are always trees left standing alone and the border between the woods and habitable areas. You can also isolate your subject with your composition, go for a telephoto that singles out the tree. Now comes the actual part of taking the image, your light meter reading should be taken from the midtones of horizon areas which will give an accurate exposure for the tree.
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Look for Shapes & Angles
Framing a tree at the center of a frame is a uninteresting way of creating an image. Though most trees grow tall, you can always locate trees
that create interesting patterns and shapes. These patterns and shapes may not be visible at first glance but once you start framing your shot through you camera viewfinder, go for as many different angles as possible! It’s a sure-shot way of identifying the elusive pattern or shape the tree makes.
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Time & Location for Photographing Trees
Look For The Light
Now you’ve probably heard this tip from every other photography teacher, seminar, workshop, etc. but as with any other genre of photography, light can dramatically alter your image of a tree. Overcast days provide soft lighting which go great for making your tree images. If it’s a bright sunny day or a beautiful golden hour then look for a silhouette of your tree. Silhouettes are one of the strongest forms of images that adds so much effect to your image. If you find yourself in a dense canopy then look for light penetrating the canopy and pouring in, this light play can again make a very interesting image. In case you find it difficult to encompass the sun and the tree you can go ahead and make a HDR image out of your shot!.
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Look for the Time, location & Weather
Depending on the time you take your image, trees can look vastly different. The different seasons and weather condition can add or detract
from your image a sense of feeling. Shooting trees in mists and fogs can create and menacing feel to your images, autumn trees with withering leaves and bright colors can be soothing or exciting. The location of the trees themselves play a significant role in enhancing the image. A tree at the end of curvy road or at the beginning of muddy country road will elicit an immediate emotional appeal from viewers. Rain brings out so much contrast in any image and as such trees as well become strong subjects when shot in a suitable environment with rain.
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Quick Tips for Photographing Trees
Finally here are a couple of special quick try-it ideas:
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1. Have you tried shooting trees with IR filters?
2. Shooting trees during sunset or sunrise? How about making that a HDR!
3. Trees are great, adding people to the foreground will enhance and reiterate their massive scale and remind us of the role they play in our ecosystem.
4. Sprinkle your tree shots with some clouds and reflection for strong composition.
5. Want to start your tree photography tour, how about beginning with that Christmas tree?
6. Oh, yes Bonsai’s are trees too!
7. Use that wide angle lens and shoot close up and wide, while you are it might as well try your macro lens at that tree bark.