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Forest Photography: Tips and Tricks for Beginners

Nature is an incredible artist. Spend a day outside, keep your eyes open, stay alert, and you can become a witness to all sorts of small and big miracles. Landscape photography is an enjoyable genre and a relaxing state to be in for many artists. As nature remains a common thread with inspiration among artists, you can grab your camera and take some awe-inspiring shots in the woods – from landscapes to details that day that will not be the same tomorrow.  Now, the forest is full of life, and when you are just starting your photographer journey, sometimes it seems you don’t even know where to start. Probably, your head is spinning, and you have lots of questions. What’s the best time for forest photography? What gear to take for a photoshoot in the woods? How to work with the composition? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are some handy tips for you. Let the magic begin. 

Take time to explore

Get close to the forest, get acquainted. Explore the area, walk around with curiosity. Take some time to see what the forest has to offer, what shapes and colors it has, how it changes during the day, and with different weather conditions.  Note your observations and start generating the ideas as you take your test shots. Pick attractive spots for your pictures of a forest and merge with the magic atmosphere out in the woods to bring incredible images home.

Bring different lenses

nature photography tips and tricks Don’t forget to take different lenses with you. Focusing on the big picture, giant trees, and forest atmosphere is great, but there are dozens of small details you might want to capture. It will be a great idea to have extra gear if you’re planning to shoot people or want to use a flash to shoot closer to night time. 

Types of lenses to take with you:

  • Long or telephoto lens. It allows making shots with tighter compression and helps you capture a specific picture of a more isolated subject. It also softens the background and focuses on the foreground elements.
  • A wide lens is best when capturing the wood’s vastness and the volume of its tall trees. You can also use a wide lens to focus on the small foreground objects.
  • A macro lens is essential in forest photography, so you don’t want to leave it at home. A lot is going on at the woodland’s ground level and you don’t want to miss it with a lens that can’t focus on those details. Right under your feet, you can find the microcosm of life – interesting plants, animals, or insects. Slow down and take a closer look through your macro lens. 
Make the best of the golden hour Catch the golden hour early in the morning, about one hour after the sunrise or an hour right before the sunset. If you are an early bird, wake up early to see how beautiful the woodland is in the dawn. If you are more of a sleepyhead, you can take appealing forest pictures just before nightfall.  nature photography tips and tricks The golden hour is magnificent. This particular photography genre is popular because of the fascinating soft light flowing through the leaves and illuminating all the unique hues. It creates a unique glowing atmosphere, and you can experiment with your shots as the light continues to change in these hours of the day quickly.  Don’t hesitate to shoot throughout the day too. You can capture some moody shots with the sun blocked by the canopy. Many areas will also be brighter because of the harsher rays. 

Capture rainy and misty days

Shooting on a rainy or foggy day is ideal for forest photography, unlike some other genres. Sometimes, misty or rainy days can add mystery. For example, mist completely transforms the environment and adds a touch of an enigma to forest shots.  Rainy days and fog are the best for getting creative with the cinema-noir shots. Nature looks more vivid, and scenes become vibrant right after the rain. Keep in mind that it’s risky to go out shooting on a rainy day if you don’t have protective gear for your camera (or for yourself, as a matter of fact). This type of photoshoot can get messy, so experiment with rainy days when the forecast gives you that green light of a few hours with no rain. 

Don’t get hung up on technicalities

Forest photography is rather unexpected: one day, you have a couple of shots, next time, you come back with hundreds of photostories. Sometimes it is better to stop looking for perfect compositions and spend all your time on ideal camera settings. There is just so much going on in the forest! Take your dog for a walk, grab a camera, and start exploring as you’re also enjoying the landscape yourself. It can seem like nothing is worth capturing. Take the next turn, and everything can change.   You’ll be surprised how many beautiful shots you’ll take just following your eye and intuition. When you try too hard to create the perfect composition based on some rule you remember, sometimes you kill the fun. With a relaxed and laid back approach, you can have much better results. Just wander around and see what catches your eye. Trust your gut. Try using a long focal lens and wide aperture to get the background out of focus, or use your environment to add depth to your shots with natural shadows.

Use leading lines

nature photography tips and tricks Capture leading lines in your composition to invite your viewers to an imaginary journey through the forest. It is often an angle of the road with forest photography that can lead the eye to the most detailed part of a shot or the leading lines formed by a unique perspective to distort giant trees. Other leading lines could be the rays of light oozing between the giant trees and causing shadows among them. 

Experiment with the shutter speed

You can create unusual shots experimenting with the shutter speed. Just keep trying. Sometimes you are not using any familiar or specific techniques and create pretty impressive shots in the end.  Here’s one of the tricks:
  • Place your camera on a tripod
  • Select a slow shutter speed
  • Slowly tilt the camera upwards
This will allow you to create weird and beautiful abstract shots. You can also ignore settings and put your camera into a priority mode to choose automatic shutter speed settings or the right aperture for the lighting conditions. 

An afterthought

Forest photography is always going to come out unique. It is almost impossible to create the same shot, even if you walk along the same path daily. This makes forests and any wild nature environment the perfect place for your creativity and experiments.  Nothing is obvious in the forest, and your work entirely depends on your taste, intuition, and observations. You can visit the same area again and again, though it will never look the same. There are infinite possibilities if you continue coming back to the same place or explore a new environment at a different time of the day or a different season of the year. No two pictures will ever be alike.