9 Outdoor Photography Tips for the Adventurer in You

Photography is the best way to document our best experiences in life, and outdoor photography is commonly used to accomplish that. It takes some basic outdoor photography tips to take good landscape, wildlife and nature photographs. In this article, we will provide you with 9 tips on outdoor photography to surprise your friends or even make some money out of it.

1. Make use of the Natural Light

The first step to getting photography right is to know the position of the sun and how to use that to your advantage. This is not one of the outdoor photography tips where you will be told to wait for a particular time of the day. However, outdoor portraits can be taken at whatever time of the day since the best opportunities present themselves randomly.

There are three crucial times when to take advantage of the natural light: full sun, shade, and no sun at all.

sunshine through leaves

At full sun, you can use the sunny 16 rule to avoid harsh shadows or squinting images. Set your camera aperture to f/16, ISO and shutter speed should be inversely proportional. For instance, you can use an ISO of 100 and a shutter speed of 1/100 for less light. The shade offers the best site for soft glow pictures. Use a reflector to shine some light on your target for a lively portrait. In no sun, the best settings for your camera are slower shutter speed, wide aperture, and high ISO settings. This is one of the most important outdoor photography tips you’ll ever find.

2. Use the Right Lens

It is imperative to acknowledge that some of best outdoor photographs are accredited to a good lens. In most outdoor portrait photography tips you will be advised to use a lens with a longer focal length. The long focal length has a role in increasing the sharpness of your target. Therefore, when you are just starting out on outdoor or portrait photography, make sure to buy a lens with a focal length that goes beyond 70mm. If you use anything lesser than that it will result in a picture with a distorted face on the subject.

camera lenses

When reading these tips on outdoor photography, make sure to note some of these requirements to help you later as a reference during practice. The perfect focal length for an outdoor portrait is 120mm and 200mm. You can also apply some clever stunts like using the telephoto lenses with shallow depth of field to blur the background and enhance on the target.

3. Use a Flash

It may sound funny when you are advised to use a flash on a sunny bright day. However, the fill flash can work you wonders in eradicating some of the harsh shadows frequently experienced in well-lit environments. The fill flash will illuminate dark shadows of the object. For instance, a facial portrait can be enhanced by using the fill flash to remove shadows clouding the person’s face. Subject-background separation is another professional technique that can be achieved by the flash.

4. Learn the Appropriate Use of Exposure Compensation

A camera metering system is a vital tool in outdoor photography. It is tasked with calculating the amount of light that can enter the lens to make the perfect exposure. It takes the average readings of the whole frame or a fraction of it to produce a mid tone. However, in areas with extreme variation or brightness and darkness, the metering of your camera can be confused.

girl playing with snow

For instance, when shooting a person with a light skin tone in a bright environment, the camera can be tricked into underexposing the shot within the frame. You can solve this problem with the help of the exposure compensation. Dial it one click towards positive to lighten the face of your target. You can increase it further depending on the results of your shots.

5. Make the Background Out of Focus

The outdoor photography tips do not revolve only around just the lenses. They depend on insight and what you can do with a given scenario. This is one of the tips on outdoor photography for taking precise and excellent portraits. It brings out full details of the subject by eradicating distractions to the viewer on the background. This trick can be achieved by choosing the right aperture size, preferably f/2.8 to 4. Cameras with the portrait mode will do that for you automatically when you select the option.

backlight portrait of girl

An alternative way is to manually set the camera to aperture priority option, followed by enlarging the aperture. Make use of the extensive focal length of the camera if it can fit in your budget. Otherwise, you can take care of the other tweaks with a third party photo editing program.

6. Choose the Perfect Location

Back to the landscape outdoor photography tips, travel places and look for sites with a lot of natural light and unique scenery. Vary your pictures from a busy cosmopolitan setup to a field of rolled hay or even a mountain top somewhere else. When hiking on a mountain trail characterized by a bright overhead sun, reduce your exposure compensation by 1 or 1.5 stops. In the case of a campfire, you can use a 10-42mm wide-angle lens for a great photo. You may employ a tripod for a perfect balance.

7. Learn How to Take the Best Wildlife Pictures

When you go out on a safari and would like to bag some amazing animal shots, then a fast telephoto zoom lens is a must-carry gear. Capture the animals in particular sorts of action that may arouse the interest of the viewer. For finer details, increase the depth of field by choosing a small aperture of around f/11-12.

wildlife portrait

To focus more on a target in the foreground while blurring the background, a shallow depth of field is important. Set your camera’s aperture between f/2.8 to f/8. Make sure to increase the shutter speed to avoid underexposure of images and muting of colors. Wildlife is an important aspect discussed in most of the outdoor photography tips online.

8. Use the Light’s Edges Effect

Natural occurrences such as a stormy weather or different atmospheric conditions can give you exceptional outdoor pictures. This is one of the outdoor photography tips that requires perfect timing and some experience. A good example is a transition of a storm light to sunlight bringing out a magical rainbow. You can also capture the low-angle sun rays witnessed in the morning and evenings on the hills of the horizon. These scenarios are referred to as the light’s edges.

girl sunset portrait

8. Venture into Unique Areas Like Caves

Go beyond the ordinary sites and take some unique pictures in dark caves and cracks on hills. You can cleverly create a silhouetted image by positioning your subject at the entrance of the cave, taking advantage of the natural light. The best way to shoot is to use a tripod followed by setting the camera to aperture priority mode. Turn off the flash, enable the spot metering mode and let the camera pick the appropriate shutter speed.

The commonly used shutter settings when exploring caves are 1/125s and 1/30s. They play the roles of synching the camera’s flash, using flash bulbs and keeping the shutter open for a longer period respectively.

These are some of the tips on outdoor photography you can apply to take your skills to the next level. Most of the discussed tricks here also double as valuable outdoor event photography tips. You can share your thoughts on the above tips or some more outdoor photography tips of your own.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

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