Summer is coming – really – it is – I promise – sooner or later. And with the better weather comes many a photo opportunity in nature. Outdoor shooters love this time of year because let’s face it; while it may not be as interesting to photograph as snowy mountains, at least it’s comfortable.
With that in mind, and with the hope that you get the most out of your summer photo outings, here are seven tips for outdoor shooters.
1. Vary your lens choice. The super wide angle lens is the tool of choice for many landscape shooters. The ultra-long telephoto is the choice of the wildlife photographer. Both should consider trying to shoot with the opposite lens now and then. For the landscape shooter, picking a longer lens, with their narrow angles of view are the very best way to combat clutter. Wildlife shooters can go wide to get the surroundings in their shots. Think animal scape instead of landscape.
2. Carry the heaviest tripod you can – just in case. Yeah, yeah, yeah you’ve got VR or IS but believe me, if you want to do the fancy stuff like HDR panoramics in low light, you’re going to want a tripod. Sunset, sunrise and the low-light situations you encounter during the best light scream for a tripod. And a good one at that.
3. Scout first, shoot second. Don’t just plop down your tripod any old place you land. Walk around. Make notes. Survey the area. Make sure you know that you’re getting the best shot you can get.
4. If you can afford it, have two cameras set up and ready to go at all times. This means that you can have one camera with a wider lens and one with a longer lens, or one set to high ISO and another low ISO, etc. Outdoor shooting situations change rapidly. If you’re ultra-prepared, you may just get that impossible shot.
5. Always carry extension tubes so you can photograph subjects that are closer than the minimum focusing distance of your lens. Likewise, always carry some sort of macro lens or macro attachment if you’re into nature/landscape work since you never know when you need to get really close.
6. Get off your duff. Move. Don’t just plant yourself in one spot. If the subject you want doesn’t look good from your current angle, change it. Particularly if you’re photographing mountains, streams, trees, etc. They aren’t going anywhere so you have to.
7. When the sun gets high/harsh, look for subjects that are 100% in shade. Avoid mottled light at all costs. When the subject is in shade, and the background is in the sun, be sure to add lots of light to your exposure to avoid underexposing the subject.
These are just seven tips. There are hundreds more. But start here and see if you can’t improve what you get on your next outdoor photography adventure.
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