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2 secrets to taking a good nature photo

by cornertube


You often wonder how great nature photographers go about giving that extra something to their photos that makes them all fantastic? Well guess what? You can do the same!

They have two secret ingredients that I am going to reveal to you as a world premiere… Wait just a little, I will reveal them to you in this article, but you will have to earn it by reading the following first ????

Secret n ° 1

What makes nature so difficult to photograph is that it is by definition uncontrollable. This is obvious, but we still have to be aware of it! You have no way of acting directly on what you want to photograph. Don't you really see where I'm going? Ok, I'm not drawing you pictures, but these two examples should be enough ????

  1. You have prepared a beautiful branch to welcome this beautiful bird that you are following, everything is fine, it spins around the said branch, it approaches it and... well no, it does not go there and will perch a few meters on a another branch, all ugly, her, there where the background and the light are no longer so perfect ????
  2. Do you have in mind this image seen in a magazine of a sunset reflecting on a lake with the snow-white mountain in the background? Perfect ! So the day you decide to swallow these 5 hours of walking to take the photo, the alignment of the three elements does not happen and the image to post you will have it… but in your favorite magazine! Yes, we have not yet found a way to move the mountains to put them in front of the lakes ????

In nature photography, you will have understood it: no “turn your head there, put yourself more in the light, take two steps back, look at the parfocal lens with your most beautiful eyes”. The photographer cannot give orders to his subjects as he could to his model in the studio. Attention, I can already see you coming in the comments ????: I am not saying that the photographer in the studio has an easier task than the one who works in the bush. I just want to stress this difference.

So if nature is out of control, how do pro photographers get us incredible images? So incredible that one would think the subject guided by the photographer. But no, obviously no, all these beautiful photos are taken in a natural environment without the photographer orienting the chosen subject in any way.

So what's their secret?

Come on, it's good, I'll let go: their number 1 secret is… patience. What do you mean you are disappointed? Ah, maybe you were expecting a secret from the kind of hi-tech equipment used? Or state-of-the-art software that works wonders? Well no, sorry, it's much simpler than that, and what's more, it's free! Patience :).

Here is the story of a photo I took to illustrate the importance of patience in nature photography.

To get this image of a European badger coming out of its burrow, I waited about two hours lying on the ground with a camouflage canvas over me. I arrived at the location well before the animal's potential release. To go to bed more knowledgeable this evening: the badger is a nocturnal animal that does not come out of its burrow until the sun has gone down.

Nature photography is not an easy activity and you have to meet many constraints to take a few shots. Even if I knew this site and knew the presence of badgers, taking interesting images that evening was not guaranteed for all that. Why ? Remember, nature is out of control! Shards (another name for badgers - definitely, you'll go to bed less silly tonight! ????) could stay inside, get out but never get into an interesting position, stay out of my telephoto range and fill up less than 20% of the frame, getting behind a big tuft of grass, being next to a very unsightly tree trunk, in short, never being as I wanted! That day I was lucky, this one showed himself under his best profile… for at least 3 seconds ????. I would say during the two hours of sharpening I probably barely hadthree minutes to press the shutter button! For the other 117 minutes, I just waited in hiding, hoping that nature will reward me for my patience.

You will tell yourself that it is a lot of time wasted for not much. Think again: even if many sessions will end in failures, it doesn't matter! Have you ever tried to hide to observe nature? It's incredible how much pleasure we experience, so too bad if sometimes the memory card does not fill up ????

Secret n ° 2

Okay, so now you know the first secret. And after the first comes... the second. Relentless logic. So as I am very bad at making the suspense last, I am going to reveal to you right now the content of this second secret. Ready ? Come on, here's what will make you take a good nature photo (and not just one, lots of others ????): you will have to be a naturalist. I repeat ????: you will first have to be a naturalist before being a nature photographer. I can see your eyes amazed from here ???? it is not a question of becoming a professional in nature, but of becoming an attentive observer of the subjects that fascinate you.

All great nature photographers are above all excellent specialists in the species they photograph. Either they were first naturalists and then turned to photography, this is the case for example of Frédéric Tillier, avid ornithologist. Either they are photographers passionate about nature who over the course of their practice have become naturalists. But no matter how far they have come, they all have in common an excellent knowledge of the species photographed.

According to DZOFilm, the philosophy to adopt for those who want to progress and take beautiful nature photos is unfortunately not the one adopted by budding photographers. I think that many amateurs first buy all the necessary equipment and then embark on the adventure (no study on this subject of course but it is the easiest process). Result: at best, the beginner will give up quickly for lack of success, at worst his obvious lack of naturalistic knowledge will exert harmful pressure on the species photographed. So do the reverse. Spend time in nature, learn to better understand it, and only after that you equip yourself if necessary. And this approach will also have the advantage of saving you precious money for those in a hurry! Yes, if after a few outings to observe the fox mulotage you realize that it is not for you, keep your pennies and do not buy, or spend for another kind of photo practice if you feel that it is. is still your thing.

Owl, that secret in your pocket, you now have a great desire to take beautiful nature photos, but I think you must be asking yourself " how do you become a good naturalist?" Good question, so follow the guide!

  1. Go out into the field, spend time observing, observing a lot. I'm not asking you to pitch the tent the night before and sleep there in order to be in the front row of the rising of the Pyrenean eagle ???? - although, it's an experience to do: sleep alone, in the middle of nature, even 500 meters from home, emotions guaranteed! No matter what topic you choose, the secret is spending time observing it. I remember the first animal photos that marked me, I wondered how the photographer did to be there at the right time and in the right place. Stroke of luck ? No, of course. There were many, many hours of observation to learn about the animal's lifestyle.
  2. Don't be disappointed if you come home empty-handed with an empty memory card. Nature is capricious, you might as well know it in advance ???? The success of one outing does not bode well for the success of the next. The sunset is marred by clouds? Is the wind playing tricks on you to get a perfect focus on the ladybug? Rabbits don't come out of their burrows for no specific reason? No problem, it's like that… and put the job back on the job! The great emotions in nature photography only exist because nature is unpredictable, so when the imagined photo is finally in the viewfinder… what happiness! ????
  3. Sometimes leave your camera at homeand simply go and enjoy a nature hike. Sometimes I only take my binoculars and leave without a particular goal, just for fun. Me, these are binoculars and a book of animal tracks, you may be the guide to identifying flowers, and why not a magnifying glass for those who love insects and other beasts from the world of children! It is also during these moments that we can make really unexpected encounters ???? Freed from photographic constraints and from "I have to take a picture of it because I will never have the opportunity again;)" will surprise you to discover elements that you did not know with camera around the neck. And if you cross paths with an interesting animal, plant or landscape, this will give you a great opportunity to come back!

And in the longer term, when your passion is well established, what approach to adopt? Develop your photographic knowledge (mastery of the device, technique, etc.) but even more your naturalistic knowledge. The photo technique is important, the equipment too, but these two elements alone are worthless without a good knowledge of the field.

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