Nature Photography: Tips and Tricks

Marketing and Social Media Specialist

Nature Photography Day was June 15, but we don’t need a specific day to capture the beauty of nature! There’s something refreshing about immersing yourself in nature, and I have found that nature photography is a perfect artistic endeavor. It fosters a sense of mindfulness because to truly capture a scene, I must slow down, observe, and pay attention to details. It also gives me a chance to explore and appreciate nature, and share experiences and perspectives with others. Getting into photography can be a tad bit intimidating at times, so I’ve compiled a few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way:

Start with what you have! Almost everybody has a small, magical box they carry everywhere with a camera attached (yes, I’m talking about your phone). You don’t need fancy or expensive gear or hours of training to capture the beauty of nature — start with your phone or whatever camera you have, and go have fun!

One of my favorite photos was taken on my phone at Scioto Grove Metro Park

Understand Your Gear. Take time to learn about the settings on your camera. I’m a big fan of YouTube camera tutorials because I can pause the video to apply what the video is teaching in real time. Having a basic understanding of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO helps you to be a better photographer! This video does a pretty good job of explaining the basics of photography, and there are even videos out there that are specific to smartphone photography.

Be patient! Learning takes time, and nature isn’t always cooperative (I once had a butterfly take flight just as I was about to hit the shutter button). Be prepared to spend some time waiting for a bird to land, a turtle to swim to the surface, or for the light to hit just right — sometimes the best shots come to those who are willing to wait. 

I had to wait a few minutes to capture this wood duck gathering at Blendon Woods

Be mindful of your surroundings. When photographing nature, be respectful of the environment and wildlife. Always follow Leave No Trace principles, and check out the map of the park before heading out to understand where you can and can’t go. You can even ask a ranger if you’re unsure. The trails at Metro Parks have some great photo opportunities! In general, be kind to your surroundings.

Experiment and learn from others. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the settings on your camera or with different techniques. Take a lot of photos — sometimes the best ones come when you just point and shoot! Additionally, I love to follow other nature photographers on social media to see what I can learn from them, and there’s a lot of online groups that share tips and tricks. Learning from others and seeing different perspectives can help you grow as a photographer.

Your phone is a great camera to start with, but if you’re looking for more advanced gear, I recommend doing a quick Google search about the types of cameras that are out there. You can also find gently-used camera gear online through eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or other resell websites to save money. Remember, the most important thing is to enjoy the process of capturing the beauty of nature. Keep practicing, stay curious, and don’t be afraid to let your creativity shine!

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