Debra DeCaro discusses the best ways to capture great nature photography
Debra DeCaro loves nature, landscapes and being able to capture the beauty of nature on camera. In the following article, Ms. DeCaro discusses ways to capture the most stunning nature photography images, whether in your backyard or in the backcountry.
It’s no secret that the Earth is both beautiful and mysterious. From towering redwoods to the magic of coral reefs, there’s plenty to discover.
Luckily, nature photographers have helped us better understand our surroundings, says Debra DeCaro. From capturing some of the most breathtaking moments to heartwarming relationships between animals and their habitats, nature photography allows us to appreciate our planet even more. For those interested in learning more and how to get started, Debra DeCaro shares some tips for capturing the most stunning nature photography.
Have the right equipment
While smartphone cameras are capable of capturing high-quality photos, the best nature photography is done using a DSLR camera, preferably with a wide-angle zoom lens and a tripod, says Debra DeCaro.
A DSLR camera has a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR). It captures images digitally to a memory card and allows photographers to switch between different lenses depending on the subject being captured.
The advantage of DSLR cameras is that the user has full control of the camera settings, which means it is easier to customize settings such as light sensitivity, shutter speed and coloring,” says Debra DeCaro. Most of today’s DSLR cameras are Bluetooth enabled, so there’s no time to download to a computer or editing device. With an iPhone, you can digitally upload, edit and share your photos almost instantly.
Nature photographers can capture some of the best moments with a collection of different lenses. Wide angle lenses are suitable for wide landscapes and a zoom lens allows the photographer to zoom in on details. Finally, Debra DeCaro says other lenses can be incorporated, depending on your wallet’s specific needs or desires.
Debra DeCaro says tripods are another important photography tool to have. They help stabilize the camera, so images get blurry, and are especially nice when you’re waiting a long time for animals to appear. Tripods are also useful for long exposure shots, such as waterfalls or to show how the weather can change over a long period of time.
Get to know all aspects of lighting
If there’s one thing to master as a nature photographer, it’s understanding lighting. Because nature is unpredictable, photographers should be aware of how lighting can affect their images.
During the brightest and sunniest parts of the day, unfiltered sunlight will create harsh tones and lots of shadows. Therefore, many nature photographers choose to shoot during the “golden hours”, i.e. just before sunrise or just after sunset. This creates soft, dreamy lighting that brings out the true colors of the subject.
Keep in mind the rule of thirds
The rule of thirds is the idea that subjects should be positioned along an invisible grid to create a balanced and aesthetically pleasing image. Debra DeCaro explains that the photographer must imagine two horizontal lines and two vertical lines across his sight; placing the subject where these lines meet will supposedly create the best image.
If it’s hard to imagine the lines, never fear! Many digital cameras have a grid mode, which allows photographers to overlay the 3×3 grid over their viewfinder.
Play with depth and angles
It’s easy to point a camera and capture an image, but true talent in nature photography comes from creativity, says Debra DeCaro.
Aperture is the size of the lens opening and changes around a term called “depth of field”. Great nature photographers know that aperture and depth of field can be a boon to their work: a wider aperture can highlight a subject by blurring the background, while a smaller aperture can make the background sharper and more detailed.
Another easy way to create more interesting nature photographs? Play with the angles! Try shooting subjects from above when they are normally photographed up close. Lie on the floor and see what your eye catches. Focus on things like texture. Nature photography is about thinking outside the box.
Have a better understanding of nature and the animals that inhabit it
If an actor or actress is going to play someone in a movie, they will often take a lot of time to study what they looked like: their movements, mannerisms and gestures. Nature photography is similar, says Debra DeCaro.
Knowing how an animal moves through its habitat or when a plant blooms is integral to capturing that perfect image. Nature tends to move in cycles and understanding this allows photographers to plan their shooting schedule around this.
Final Thoughts on Mastering Nature Photography
Debra DeCaro explains that nature photography is a very rewarding experience, but it requires practice, patience, a sense of curiosity, and a willingness to get a little dirty. Mother Nature does not follow the rhythms of humanity but creates her own. The best nature photographers understand this and remain respectful of the nature they capture.