With climate change, the destruction of biodiversity, landscapes and natural ecosystems, nature photography or environmental photography plays an extremely important role in the times that pass. Also known as environmental photography or ecological photography, it was created to portray those natural spaces that have not been disturbed or intervened by human beings.
It is remarkable how in recent years this type of photography has gained great importance , beyond its contributions to science, biology, geography or artistic aesthetics, is a type of photography that reminds us of the debt that humanity owes to the planet and climate change .
Therefore, due to its great importance in creating awareness and the aesthetic contributions they make to the cause, in this article we will explore its uses, types and some tips so that you can get started in this incredible world of natural art through photography.
What is Nature Photography?
Nature photography is a large category that encompasses many photographic derivations and whose purpose is to capture images of living beings , their variety of species, its habitat, in addition to the geological characteristics that define planet earth as a great village full of contrasts and riches.
Photography as a young art, with a recent history of more than one and a half centuries, is an expression that always reconciles us with life, with the environment, with everything that deserves to be reproduced and perpetuated in a graphic. It is a manifestation that allows us to discover with acute observation, reproduce and transmit the beautiful planet that we inhabit . From there, Nature Photography as a genre was born. So if you are a lover of the wonders of geography and you like to be a photographer, then it would be enough to combine them in an extraordinary symbiosis such as nature photography to explore its many possibilities.
Why take photos of nature?
At first this genre stood out for its great aesthetic possibilities. The reproduction of nature with its variety of themes represented a unique opportunity to be moved by so much color, texture and striking shapes. Every living being, awake or at rest, was captured by the magic of a photographer’s lens with the courage to go camouflaged into inhospitable and even dangerous terrain for humans. Its purpose was to give us an image with the power to bring to our eyes the unattainable, the little known for being wild and natural .
Each plant specimen, flora, tree, made it close to the observing public. The more exotic the more captivating was their desire to photograph it and the greater the appreciation of observers for such unique beauty. Every aspect of mother earth and the characteristics of its geology was illustrated producing amazement at its variety. Each backwater of the blue planet was expressed with the interest of communicating the life that hides its waters. And not to mention the infinite beauty of a starry sky
Today the contemporary conception of nature photography not only emphasizes aesthetics, presenting it as a postcard worthy of admiration, but also documenting all the richness in biodiversity, in flora and fauna to awaken ecological awareness to preserve it for future generations . It is an open secret that many species are in danger of extinction and that global warming is bringing irreversible changes to the planet. More and more photographers with the purpose of connecting with the urgency of sustainable and sustainable life on the planet by taking nature photography .
Subgenres or types of Nature Photography
This modality turns out to be very broad and covers many themes or subgenres. It also happens to be one of the most practiced besides portrait photography. According to the themes we can get the photography of plants, flowers and fauna photography, which aims to present their unique beauty and the conditions of their natural habitat be it aerial, terrestrial or aquatic.
According to the environment where they live, the technical conditions and the specifications of the equipment to be used change, especially when it comes to photographing vegetation and marine fauna. The photography of aquatic species and plants is the most attractive and at the same time the most expensive , not only because you require a waterproof camera or, failing that, housings that prevent their entry, but also throughout the logistics involved: an assistant team, a boat to transport you, as well as a good diving or scuba suit.
You should also consider that if you go deeper you will require external lights due to the predominance of the deep blue of the waters. Also keep in mind that marine fauna and aquatic plants subsist in a medium that absorbs light, therefore you must get as close as possible to your objective to capture it more clearly.
There are also microorganisms that are captured with special lenses adapted to microscopes and that are very useful for their applicability to the study of science, biology and medicine. Called this type of photography as macrophotography or photomicrography, which portrays very small species in detail . The subject is observed larger than its real size, which allows a detailed study of its characteristics.
Photograph of Fauna
It is also worth mentioning the capture of images of animals that move at high speed or birds in flight, requiring special equipment and accessories such as telephoto lenses and with capture speeds in mode. burst. The possibilities of subjects to be photographed are multiple, from large killer whales to tiny and varied insects, as well as exotic flowers, trees, shrubs, mushrooms and fungi.
In addition to the suitable equipment to capture these moments and camouflage tools, the photographer must have a great deal of patience to wait for the right moment. Documenting this natural reality is neither manipulable nor interventionist. It does not allow handling of the model or preparing the proper pose. This type of photography is known as wildlife photography .
Still Life Photography
Still life photography consists of the inanimate representation of natural elements such as fruits and dead animals fused into a visual composition. Its purpose is purely artistic where the formal values of the plastic composition come into play, with light, color and texture being of greater importance.
Landscape Photography Natural
Natural landscape photography is one of the oldest and most compelling lenses to shoot. Photography was born with the interest of capturing the diversity of the natural landscape . The great variety of natural settings without human intervention such as waterfalls, mountains, rivers, desert areas have been in the sights of the most successful photographers as well as amateurs. One of the aspects to consider and the most important is working with natural light and its constant change of position as the day progresses , which will constantly modify the final result of the image.
You must provide yourself with a high resolution equipment and the use of telephoto lenses to capture very open shots necessary in the expressiveness of the landscape in all its dimension, in addition to knowing which are the most suitable hours to capture the images depending on what you want to transmit. There are two types of lights or hours that are called “magic” because they are preferred for photographing landscapes because the light is more diffuse, softer and less direct or “hard”. It happens twice a day, just before sunrise – aurora – and at dusk – twilight -.
The instant of light or golden hour where the range of reds, yellows, oranges and ocher predominates; or the light or blue hour where we see a range of intense blue, pure or highly saturated colors. Both are preferred for working with contrasting moods. The vivid or hot colors predominant in the golden hour connect us with the dynamism of life, joy and movement. The saturated and cold blue draws us back to feelings of freshness, peace, rest, reaching melancholy.
Astrophotography or also as it is known Space Photography or Astronomical Photography is one that aims to capture the celestial vault and the bodies that gravitate in it in all its dimensions such as the moon, stars, comets, nebulae, constellations, meteorites and every astronomical event worthy of admiration. Since ancient times, the darkness of the sky was the depository of the most mysterious beliefs.
The sun, the moon, the stars and the eclipses were a cause of worship and fear by ancient civilizations until the knowledge of astronomy came and each mystery was unveiled. With it the sky was opened to one of the most fascinating disciplines such as Astronomical Photography contributing to the knowledge of space and the Milky Way. For this, technology has been added with the use of telephoto lenses with a long exposure fixed camera to eliminate the light trail or sweep left by the stars with their slow but continuous movement.
More and more followers are delving into the depth of the night in places far from the lights of the city to capture a starry sky without the moon or to photograph the fullness of the terrestrial satellite in all its splendor . Armed with their backpack, camera bag and accessories, as well as a good tripod, they allow themselves to camp in good company to capture the great angle that the night sky warrants.
Aerial photography allows us to discover and explore the most remote places on the planet. In its role within nature photography it is used to capture large natural spaces with great amplitude. It has also been very useful in the military field, in the study of geography and the earth’s crust, with a more scientific than aesthetic approach. At the time, it used moving airplanes that took wide and periodic captures of photos of the earth’s layer to later be arranged and assembled in series to be observed three-dimensionally with a device called a stereoscope.
Today this way of obtaining aerial photos has been replaced by drones which show us images of the most inhospitable and difficult-to-access sites. This type of photography is also joined by Orbital Photography taken by satellites, which also has an applicability for the study of the earth’s crust and its topography for the future projection of engineering works.
Now that we have instructed you in this type of photography, you may wonder What do I need to get into this type of photography and capture nature and the subjects that inhabit it in all its splendor?
Accessories and Elements for Nature Photography
The main thing to get a nature photography will be to have a camera with BULB mode. Or at least a camera that we can configure with slow shutter values, although we can get compositions or landscape photographs with fast shutter values. You can also use a reflex camera, usually supplied with a normal 50mm lens.
This camera is suitable for almost all subgenres or subjects, with the possibility of adapting an essential telephoto lens to bring the shots closer together and a wide angle .
One start is to have a series of lenses that range from wide-angle to telephoto, that is, from 18 or 20mm to 200 or 300mm. Angles and telephoto lenses are very useful in landscape photography. The 28-80 standard zoom will be more useful if they have some macro magnification (1: 4 or 1: 2). Undoubtedly, an f / 2.8 zoom with an image stabilizer will always be more versatile and practical than a less bright one.
You can also use a 100mm macro lens to take close-up shots of insects and small species without getting too close.
Landscape photography can be associated with any type of ecosystem or environment, and therefore its time matters. While an area can be great during the day, it doesn’t have to be at night, or vice versa. The choice between day or night will make factors such as natural or artificial lighting very important when it comes to any of our alternatives. For this reason or there is a precise answer, it will depend on what and how you want to photograph it.
Although technique is important, the point that can make the difference from one great photo to another is the composition. We have to keep in mind that the composition must always be based on the main object. Another interesting way to enhance the visual impact of a landscape is to use contrasts as a resource. We must bear in mind that everything must be focused, or at least that our eye perceives it.
This means that we should always set a closed aperture around f / 8, f / 11 or f / 16. These values are the best since a value above f / 16 can begin to produce diffraction in the lens, and even more so if we are going to take long exposures. From these values in aperture is when we will establish the shutter speed. This speed will depend a lot on what we want to show or achieve, as well as depending on the elements in the scene.
If we have to keep a distance of at least 100 meters (for animals for example), we will need a good telephoto lens. We are talking about focal lengths greater than 300mm and focal length converters. In addition, it must be very bright, since to freeze the subject we will need relatively short exposure times (on the order of 1/500 or less). And of course shoot from a tripod to avoid shake.
Finally, remember to prepare yourself with the best tools and accessories. You must provide yourself with a backpack or bag that is spacious but at the same time comfortable to carry, 3 or 4 batteries, 3 memories and even a spare camera as well as the possibility of taking photos by remote control. Your comfortable but safe clothing because nature photography will require hours to wait for the right moments of capture.
In short, nature photography will demand of you the greatest of purposes, not only the capture of its beauty in all its splendor but also the implicit message of preserving it for the future generations.