Tips for Outdoor Photography

Posted on: 30th December 2013

Who doesn’t love the outdoors? Especially when the sky is clear, the flowers are in bloom and everything around you is beautiful and colourful. This is exactly the reason why amateur and professional photographers can’t get enough of it. Then again, it is not just during sunny days that you can create great compositions for stunning outdoor photography. Any hour of the day and any time of the year, there is always a good reason to capture the wonders of the surroundings in print.

  1. Hiking proves to be advantageous in many ways – good for your resistance and complexion, invigorating to both mind and soul and perfect backdrop for your outdoor photography portfolio. If the sun is too bright, underexpose your images by 1 or 1 ½ stops. You can also do this by using a polarizer filter. It eliminates reflections from water sources and puts emphasis on the contrasting clouds above. Use a lens hood to avoid flares. Take notice of the overhead canopy in the shady parts of the forest or woods because they diffuse sunlight. By overexposing your images 1 to 1 ½ stops, you can make the colours pop out even better.
  1. Campfires are perfect for bonding with family or friends. They also give you plenty of opportunities to get great photos of the fire and other interesting elements around it. A 50mm standard lens is ok but if you have a 10-42mm wide angle lens, then that would be better. Prevent camera shake by using a sturdy tripod. If you have forgotten it (because you’re too excited to go camping), then just look for a steady surface around the campsite. Control the amount of light coming in to your camera by using f/2-f/8 aperture. If you want the camera to choose its own shutter speed, choose the aperture priority mode. Prevent blurring by using a cable release or the camera’s self-timer. There is no need to use the flash because the natural glow of the fire is enough.
  1. Most of the time, you would have trouble getting enough light sources to illuminate your subject. The light from the campfire might leave a strong orange cast to your image. You can opt for an external flash but you have to calculate the right distance between you and your subject. But usually, pictures would be evenly balanced if your camera has a ‘night time flash’ option. Use the smallest aperture possible (f/1.4-f/4) for a marvellous portrait and don’t forget to use 400 or higher ISO for your camera.Outdoor Photography
  1. National parks are also a gem of magnificent outdoor photography options. It makes you feel closer to nature, appreciate its beauty and capture it on print. If there are big mountains and scenic landscapes, a wide angle lens is your best bet for this. Always look for famous landscapes for memorable pictures. Of course, just let nature guide you to its most captivating elements and just take shots of everything. If it is too bright all around, use a polarizer filter to underexpose your images. A fill-in flash, on the other hand, is necessary if it is too dark or there is not enough light.
  1. If you love exploring dark caves, it can still offer a wealth of interesting photos. Although it is a challenge, you would find yourself being extra creative and adventurous about your composition. For starters, you can capture photos of people or objects in the entrance or exit of the cave. The existing light outside is enough to render a fascinating silhouetted image. Use a tripod to prevent camera sake and choose the aperture priority mode. Just let the camera choose the shutter speed. Use a spot metering mode and then turn off the flash. If you want to delve deeper into the cave, you need to protect your camera from humidity and dust. Put a helmet-light to see where you are going and to provide adequate illumination to your subject. Flash units especially made for these moments are a must so you can maximize the potential of being in a very unique location. For dark cave photography, a 1/125s shutter setting is what you need, especially if you want to synch your flash. On the other hand, 1/30s is ideal if you want to use flash bulbs. The B shutter setting is to keep the shutter open for up to 30 seconds. A cable release is useful if you want long exposure times for your photos.
  1. Wildlife photography needs a fast telephoto zoom lens – 100mm to 300mm – so you can zoon in close on the animals. You can add more interest if you capture their movements. A deeper depth of field (DOF) is achievable if you choose a small aperture f/11-f/22. On the other hand, a shallow depth of field from f/2.8-f/8 can render a blurred background effect. But don’t forget to increase your shutter speed when you do this to avoid getting dull colours.

Recommended Settings

On a bright day, a wide angle lens of f/16 is necessary; higher, if you want to get sharp images of the landscape. If it is too bright, use up to 2 stops so you can underexpose the photos. This will also help in retaining the details in the highlights and the shadows.

Recommended Equipment

You can be very flexible when engaging in outdoor photography. A lens hood is necessary to minimize flaring during bright conditions. Also, you will need both a polarizer and a neutral density filter to avoid reflections and highlight the sky. Taking sharp images in low light conditions require a tripod. If your subject is in a dark spot, you have to use your flash. If it is a removable flash device, all you need to do is position it at a specific area. Dramatic clouds and panoramic views can be captured by using a wide angle lens. If you need to capture wild animals from afar, use a telephoto lens.


Outdoor photography is exciting and extremely satisfying. It also makes for fantastic images as long as you know how to play up with the different elements such as the bright sun, wild animals, campfires, fluffy clouds, etc. Get as much as possible in focus by using small aperture. Don’t be disappointed if the day is quite dull and shadowy. And even if it is raining, you can still use it to your advantage. If there is low light, using a cable release would steady your hands and capture the tiniest details possible. Experiment with the exposure setting so you can get the desired results. Be prepared because once you travelled to the location, it would be quite of a hassle to go back if you leave some of the equipment at home or in your studio. So bring your tripod, polarizer filter, lens hood, ND filter and such. Batteries and extra memory cards are also a must. Enjoy your outdoor photography!

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