Scouting locations for nature photography
You will rarely make your best images on your first visit to a new location. Use the first visit to gather information about where the light is coming from, what subjects can be photographed in the area. What is the best time to photograph?
When scouting a location.
You will rarely make your best images on your first visit to a new location, in many cases it requires many visits to get your creative side working well. Do some research before you leave home, you will achieve better results with a bit of planning. Use the first visit to gather information about where the light is coming from, what subjects can be photographed in the area. What is the best time to photograph? By using such tools as Google Earth you can get an idea of what the topography is like before you leave home. Go to the library or book store, look for books about the area you intend to visit, do a search on the Internet (don’t forget to do an image search as well) to see what others have photographed in the area. Contact the National Parks Department or other management authority and ask if there are any restrictions and they are usually very happy to provide information about the area such as species lists, maps of walking tracks. Ask about weather conditions in the area, when is the best time to visit. Take notes of anything of interest and try to visualise the types of images you want to make.
Rise early and be on site before the dawn….Stay late after the sun has set…Rest in the middle of the day.
The best light for nature photography is usually as the sun rises and 2 to 3 hrs after and 2 to 3 hrs before sunset and the hour after sunset, these times are what photographers call the “golden hour” and provide that soft golden/blue light that we admire in great images. Any other time of day you will encounter contrast problems between the brightest and the darkest parts of a scene. Not a very good look having too much shadows and blown highlights. Use the harsh time of day to catch up on rest or do other chores, one or two exceptions to this would be on bright overcast days, which are perfect for waterfalls and close-ups as the overcast sky acts as a huge diffuser thereby reducing the harsh contrast.
Never be in a rush to move to a new location.
After finding a location, don’t just make a single image and then rush off to the next location. Look around, try different lenses, different angles of view. Watch the light changing over time…you never know a beautiful image maybe there for you. Too often photographers will arrive at a location, take a shot of the main attraction and then move on to the next location and never work an area to its full possibilities. Slow down and work an area.
Don’t be afraid to venture out in inclement weather.
Even if the skies are overcast or the weather doesn’t seem ideal for photography, often there are opportunities for some dramatic photography subjects, such as foggy scenes or landscapes. Bright overcast skies are a good time for rainforest trips or for undertaking closeups, these sorts of days provide even light on your subjects.
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