7 Photography Tips for the Great Outdoors

San Simeon beach

This is a guest post by Karen Ho Fatt, who publishes an outdoor fire pit review site. If you would like to guest post on CampingBlogger, please see the guest posting page for more information.

Most of us are planning to head out to the National Parks this spring season. You will probably be making the most of your trip there; hunting, cooking and fishing are probably on the trailblazing menu. But most of us usually incorporate some kind of photography to document their trips into the great outdoors. But how do you create a more meaningful representation of these spectacular creations of nature?

For those who don’t want to just settle for the run of the mill “snapshots” here are some tips to improving your skills while on holiday.

Frozen Lake Helen in Lassen NP

Frozen Lake Helen in Lassen NP

Capture the Big Scene. This is the trophy photo is what we all try to achieve as photographers, the one that makes a statement; the majestic mountains rising above the clouds with the river running through below. A wide angle lens from 15mmm to 24mm is best to help you achieve that panoramic view.

Get in Closer. Photograph scenes within scenes. Focus on smaller details such as animals in the landscape with the trees as a backdrop.

Carry multiple lenses. Use a 24- 70mm lens for more standard scenes (as it looks to the eye) and a zoom lens in the 70-200mm range will help you get those far away details closer to you. A macro lens will give you a 1:1 view of your subject and will capture intimate details such as bugs on a budding leaf.

Crater Lake NP, in Oregon

Crater Lake NP, in Oregon

Capture the Mood of the place. Getting to your location at sunrise and sunset when the light is golden will impart a different mood to your subject. A side lit mountain is a sight to behold: you will see it alternately glowing in shades of pink, orange or yellow. These magic moments are fleeting so you will have to be quick with the shutter and set up early before the sun rises (before 10 am) or before it sets (after 3pm).

Storms, Rain, Mist and Fog are not your enemies but your friend. These elements are great mood creators and incorporating them will elevate the image to a different level. They will turn the mundane into the extraordinary. And remember to dress in layers for these extreme weather changes you may encounter in the wilderness that you will want to capture.

First signs of spring

First signs of spring

Use a Monopod or Tripod. Nature’s fickle weather and the magic moments of sunrise and sunset are often bathed in low light so you will need these tools if you want your pictures looking their best. Otherwise steady yourself against a tree and don’t breathe if you don’t have any one on hand! In addition to the latter you will probably need to use very high ISO in these low light situations and alter these more grainy images with noise software later. The monopod’s added benefit is that it also can double as a walking stick!

Get a GPS. Sure handy if you get lost but you may want to come back to the same location at a different time of day to capture a different mood and look.

Last but not least, know your camera and its limitations. Read your manual and learn what all those buttons were meant to do. As stale and boring as it may be, you don’t want to be fumbling around and not capture that fleeting moment!

These basic principles apply if you have a DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses or a more simple point and shoot camera. Taking photos is a combination of both serendipity and some careful planning. But take note as you will see miles of improvement in your travels into the great outdoors!

Karen is an avid photographer and can often be often found photographing the great outdoors near her country hamlet. She publishes an outdoor fire pit review site and you can follow her on Twitter @FamilyFirePit

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21 thoughts on “7 Photography Tips for the Great Outdoors

  1. Great pictures and tips! I love taking pictures on my camping and backpacking trips and am always glad to learn something new to improve my photography. Thanks!

  2. Great tips. It was actually a camping trip through Washington’s North Cascades last summer that induced me to upgrade to a DSLR. Its worked out brilliantly this year for both camping, motorcycle trips and sailing. A backpack camera bag is a must, I use it all the time.

  3. These are great tips and ideas! I do a lot of outdoor photography and I often forget some of these along the way. I will be sure to add these back to my list! Thank you.

      • I would be happy to share some of them with you. Almost all of the photos I used on my carcamping site are my work and I also have my own photography site located at http://www.terikai.com. If I knew how, I would post a couple of them right in this post but I couldn’t figure it out. LOL.

        My favorite tip above is about the storms and weather. I think many people stay indoors when the weather is bad and that’s when I love to try and get out but it is very challenging.

  4. This is nice, the photo make me to feel so nice and full of nature, we need to go camping more whit freiends and family, and we need to protect the nature and the wilde life more!

  5. This are some great ideas. I put together a list of camera tips of my own, however I’m no photographer. I’ll definitely use some of these tips on my next camping trip for sure.

  6. WOW WOW WOW there are some very nice pictures. The most I like is Crater Lake NP, in Oregon the photo is amazing is awsome, but the Frozen Lake Helen in Lassen NP is awsome too, I may ask do you have a pic whit Lake Helen when is not frozen?

    • I learned my beach lesson the hard way last year. Make sure you change lenses in a bag and don’t get it near water-cover it with plastic of some kind. Change lenses if possible before you get to the beach!There are raincovers for cameras you can purchase that will help but salt and sand are definitely killers, especially on the pocketbooks. Here is a helpful resource: http://photo.net/medium-format-photography-forum/007Cq4

    • Don’t foget the manual and to read it! I find I try some things first then re-read the book in snippets as I go along, sure helps to learning the camera quickly.