Nature Photography Tips?

Hi everyone, does anyone have any tips for nature photography? I was not so much thinking on the technical stuff, I am more looking for tips on the creative-type side of photography. Any tips on nature photography in general would be great though!

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If it is birds or wildlife, a photo showing the animal in its environment is often more impactful than a mere portrait. Also, even when you think you have the best angle, try others, perhaps you’ll find something better. For example, with a pygmy owl, I liked the light angle, so I took some shots with a plain blue background. I then went to the other side, and got green trees in the background, which pleased me much more. I also zoomed out to get the owl in its environment.


Two of the biggest pieces of advice I’d suggest are to know the capabilities of your equipment and to make sure to spend the time on post-processing.

You can take excellent photos with fancy gear and expensive lenses, and you can take excellent photos with a smartphone camera, but doing so requires that you understand the advantages and limitations of each and work with a clear awareness of what you can expect from your equipment. (and it’s worth mentioning that you can take terrible photos with any gear)

Many people overlook post-processing, but this is vital to the difference between an ok photo and one that really stands out. Post processing can be as simple as cropping the photo to get a pleasing image that draws the eye to the main subject, de-emphasises distraction, and helps to highlight a story or vignette, or it can be more in-depth with adjusting the colors, white balance, sharpness, grain, black-point, levels, histogram curve, etc. This is where the vast majority of time is spent when it comes to high-quality photography. You don’t need to shoot in RAW, but it really helps a lot if you do. Same with the ISO, F-stop, and Shutter Speed; you can get great results letting the camera do that automatically, but if you maintain control over that yourself you often get better results, or at least results closer to what you’re intending.

There is no right or wrong, but my personal approach is to try to bring the images as close to what I saw with my eyes as is possible.

Other than that, I like to have something in the frame that helps to provide a setting or context, to capture something about the “personality” of whatever I’m looking at, or what caught my eye, or to frame it in some manner, or to tell a story of some sort, although the latter often requires a bit of knowledge on the part of the viewer for the full story to be understood even if you do manage to capture things well.

Obviously, luck and timing plays a big part, but the saying about luck favoring the prepared is absolutely true.

It’s also worth giving some thought to specific photos you might want to capture, then going out to make a specific trip to capture that specific photo. It’s good practice for thinking creatively about how you want to showcase things you’re interested in or see.


Hi Iia.
I would be happy to share tips with you to bring a creative side to nature photography.
Feel free to contact me, and we can chat.
My iNaturalist Profile


I don’t agree that portraits are somehow worse than full shots in environment, if your photo is good it will be good no matter how much of the animal is seen, and good portraits are hard to achieve both technically and artistically. Other than that you can open any photography site and read on tips about settings and exposition (like basic rule of thirds), they usually write about reportage or studio photography, but there’re many about wildlife too (sorry, I never read those in English and can’t link some). I’m not a fan of those, but they’re essencial.
Main tip – look at a lot of photos! Many, many thousands, and good ones, best ones, you’re training your brain that way, similar to learning species id, it’d be just easier to shoot by yourself. Also photography works the same as paintings in terms of exposition.
I can’t show own examples as 14 years after falling in love with cameras I don’t think there’s anything that would be a good example of any scene.


Don’t take photos of everything, because once, not everything looks as good in the photo as in real life, and two - the more photos, the less chance you will ever return to them. More than once I have heard about situations when someone took hundreds of photos, and then did not even want to see them, choose the best ones, as a result all the work was wasted. It is better to take one or several good and thoughtful photos. When I write “thoughtful” I do not mean any unique study of composition, I mean rather answer a few questions - Will this photo be interesting? Does it present something important to me? What made me want to take out my camera? It is very possible that after a moment of choking on what we see, we will come to the conclusion that it is not worth capturing, because it is either not that interesting, or we have already captured something very similar in a similar way.

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I’m a total amateur, but here are my 2 cents:

I would say one thing that is important is paying attention to background colors. If you can try to get your critter against a cool background, it makes for a lovely shot, especially if you can take into consideration how the color of your background might compliment the color of your critter. I often like to shoot with wider apertures, attempting to get the critter sharp, but the background well bokeh’d (if I’m trying to get artsy with it). Of course, for observation purposes, it’s best to get all the information you can about the habitat.

Maybe you already do this, but using a flash is a total game changer. I don’t use flash much for birds (yet), but for anything small and relatively slow or still, I use flash regularly. Makes all the difference in the world.

I 2nd the comment about image processing. You can take shots that might not be great to begin with and after a little cropping, rotating and other adjustments you’ll have something you can be proud of. Shooting in RAW format greatly extends that amount of manipulation you can achieve using an app like Adobe Camera RAW. Processing RAW images takes a little longer than jpegs, but it’s often worth the extra effort imho.

The gear does matter to an extent. The bigger your sensor, the more light capturing capability, the more data that can be captured. Better lenses always make a difference too. But, if you’re getting creative, then use whatever you have. I’m a big believe in creative limitations. I’ve actually been kicking around the idea of shooting wildlife on film using something like Lomochrome Purple 35mm or Redscale’d 35mm. I may only do that once though - $$$$!!


Thank you all for these awesome tips!

Pretty ~great~ images!

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