Best Tips for Outdoor Photography

Outdoor photography is a term that encompasses a large array of very different types of photography. From wildlife photography to landscapes, the techniques and equipment required can be very different. However, there are also similarities that all types of outdoor photography share.

Here are a few tips that can make your experience better.

Shoot in Raw

When shooting, it is always a great idea to shoot in Raw format. Shooting in Raw allows you a lot more latitude when editing. Our brains adjust the image that our eyes see to make sure that there are not that many over-exposed areas and that the colour we see isn't greatly affected by the ambient colour around the subject.

A digital camera doesn't have these features, and therefore it is always a good idea to, at the very least, do some basic adjustments. To get the most out of these adjustments you should use Raw format.

Raw format is where the camera doesn't render the image. Instead, it takes all the information that the sensor captures and puts it in a file. That file is then rendered into an image by your photo editing software. It gives you a lot more detail in the highlights and low lights. Due to the fact that the image isn't rendered on the camera, the file size is a lot larger than it would be for a jpg image. With memory cards being relatively inexpensive now, it is a good idea to stock up and shoot in Raw to get the most out of your images.

Outdoor Photography at Sunrise or Sunset

The biggest factor in any type of photography is light. It can turn a mediocre scene into something incredible or it can turn the most beautiful scene into something quite drab. At midday, when the sun is high in the sky and at its most powerful, there are few shadows and because the light has to pass through the least amount of atmosphere, the contrast is at its highest.

When you shoot in either the morning or late afternoon, the sun is at its lowest point in the sky and the light has to pass through the maximum amount of atmosphere to reach you. This gives you the warm golden glow as the dust in the air turns the light gold or red. With the diffused light, the shadows are also softer which is usually more pleasing to the eye. The last reason it is better is that the shadows, themselves are longer which gives your subject definition.

Field at Sunset

Get off the Beaten Track

This might sound logical but if you want to take the shots that very few photographers take, you have to get the views that few photographers get. To do that, you either need to go to a spot where or when few photographers go. Usually there is a reason not many photographers get the shot, those reasons could be anything from an odd hour of the day or it's not an easily accessible spot, either way, those are the times and places you should go to get the shots that stand out the most.

With that being said, if few photographers go, it might also be because the view just isn't great, so it's a risk. Either the shot could be a stunner or it could be completely mediocre. The only way to find out is to go and try.

Have a Subject

A photo with a subject is always more meaningful than an image without. Your subject could be anything from a sinking sunset to a person or animal. Something that draws the eye in the image and helps the viewer process the image. A simple example is taking a picture of a solid colour, it would look bland, but add anything to break up the solid colour and suddenly the picture takes on a whole new dimension.

Take the example below, without the person sitting in the field, the image would still be a nice scene, but adding the subject to break up the field draws the eye.

Bench in a field at sunset

Dress for the Weather

This one is an obvious one but you will be surprised how often people don't dress appropriately. If you are going out shooting in freezing temperatures, don't go out in a light jacket. You will not enjoy the experience but it could also be dangerous if you get caught outside for whatever reason. Likewise, if you go hiking to get that really amazing waterfall shot, don't do it in flip-flops. I have seen this way too many times to count. You are going to hurt your feet badly, not only from scraping against roots and rocks but after a hike without proper support, the muscles in your feet start to hurt. Do yourself a favour and check the weather before going. it will make your experience infinitely better.

Obviously there are many more tips for specific types of outdoor photography but these give you a starting point.