Use Excellent Equipment

Buying good camera equipment is important to your success. You certainly don't need the latest and greatest top of the line camera to succeed. I tend to have a lot of equipment because I am always trying to find better ways to make quality images. However, I am not an equipment junkie and I struggle to learn new camera gear just like you do. Equipment that is suitable for nature photography is a real joy to use so it's important to get the features you need. In many cases, I will tell you...

Essential Camera Features

Once you have decided on what camera system to own, it's important to select a camera with features that are especially useful in nature photography. Here's a list of features I feel are important for nature photography. Your camera should have at least 8-10 megapixels. An 8-megapixel camera can easily produce gorgeous 16 X 20 inch color prints. What does 8 megapixels really mean It means you have eight million effective pixels which is the smallest unit of a digital image. These eight million...

Panoramic Software

There are numerous software programs that automatically stitch your images together to make the final panoramic image. It seems that new programs are being introduced to the market on a monthly basis and established programs are constantly updated. Virtually any image processing software program has a way to make panoramic images. Since I use PhotoShop CS3, the Photomerge feature works fine. Barbara is excellent at making panoramics and she lines up each image manually, but you do need to...

Develop Excellent Shooting Habits

You'll find that whatever camera system you use, it changes rapidly over time. This is even more true today because of the rapid advances in digital technology. You'll be continuously tempted by the latest and greatest cameras and lenses. But, no camera has ever taken a great picture all by itself so don't depend too much on the equipment. Developing excellent shooting habits that consistently produce quality is the key to becoming a really good nature photographer. Using a tripod whenever...

What File Type Should You Shoot

If you want quality and don't want to spend time processing RAW files, then a high-quality JPEG is the best choice. Of course, make sure you nail the exposure and set the white balance properly since it isn't easy to adjust later once you shoot the shot. Cameras offer a variety of JPEG choices depending on the quality you want. It is best to select the highest quality. If you need a lower-quality JPEG for use on the web, it is easy to convert a high quality one...

Developing Your Photographic Skills

It is impossible to begin as a super photographer, no matter how smart you are. Skills must be developed and mistakes made so you can see for yourself what works and what doesn't work. Fortunately, the process is fairly straightforward and you can become an outstanding photographer rather rapidly if you invest the time. Many of my students rapidly become outstanding nature photographers and some have gone on to become highly successful professionals in the tough field of nature photography....

Shutter Speed Values

Shutter speeds are exposure controls too. The shutter is found right in front of your sensor. The speed of the shutter as it opens and then closes determines how long light can strike the sensor so that photons can be captured by the pixels. Here's the standard shutter speed series in 1 stop intervals. Each shutter speed listed varies from it's nearest neighbor by 1 stop of light. This series doubles or halves the light from 1 stop to the next too. Naturally, the longer the shutter is open, the...

Keep Your Lenses Clean

Some brilliant soul once said, 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.' They are so right. Grit and dust can ruin your camera gear and reduce the quality of your images. It's absolutely critical to protect your camera gear from the evils of dirt. Dust is a huge problem for digital photographers in many ways. First, always store camera lenses with their front and rear caps on. This prevents the expensive glass from being scratched needlessly. Make sure your lens surfaces are free of...

Pro Verses Amateur Cameras

There was a huge difference between pro level film cameras and ones designed for amateurs. However, now that digital cameras are really miniature computers, the difference between cameras designed for amateurs and pros isn't huge in terms of features, just in price. This means you can buy a D-SLR for less than 1000 and get nearly all of the features of a camera costing thousands more. You'll need a camera and lens to begin taking nature photographs so let's select one. A number of excellent...

Become A Better Naturalist

The more you know about nature, the better your images. You don't need a degree in biology to become an excellent naturalist. Many of the best birders or wildflower lovers are self-taught. Many field guides are available today on very specific subjects. When I started out, you could buy a field guide to the birds of the Eastern US and another to the Western US. Now most states have their own field guides which are far more precise and detailed than general guides. There are even field guides on...

Great Places To Take Nature Photographs

One of the wonderful things about nature photography is that it can be done anywhere. You don't need to travel the world to take nature photographs. Even if you live in a large city, natural areas are nearby. New York City has Central Park, plus zoos and botanical gardens. Let's start with your own property. If your entire property is a mowed lawn, perhaps you could plant a flower garden. Then you would have many opportunities to photograph flowers and the insects that are attracted to them....

Choosing Your Digital Camera

The advances in digital technology and cameras has been truly breathtaking. Only a few years ago, digital cameras cost many thousands of dollars, yet produced images that were inferior to less expensive film cameras. Today the price of terrific digital cameras has dropped tremendously while the quality they produce has risen dramatically. This explains why digital cameras became so widely accepted among amateurs and professionals alike as the camera system of choice in the 2003-2006 time...

Professional Vs Amateur Nature Photographers

Are professional nature photographers better than amateurs I know quite a few professional nature photographers and some are better than most amateurs and some aren't. Saying you are a professional photographer means you make the majority of your money from photography. Amateurs make his her money in some other way. Identifying yourself as an amateur or pro nature photographer really says nothing about your knowledge or skill level. It merely indicates your source of income. One of the finest...

Read Books About Nature Photography

Hundreds of books are available on all aspects of photography. Be sure to look for titles that match your interests very closely. There are books on general nature photography like this one, landscape photography, closeup nature photography, wildlife photography, and many others. If you are interested in working on your nature images with software, then you will find some of the many books devoted to the digital darkroom quite helpful. Be careful about buying books on software programs because...

Subscribe To Magazines

Magazines on photography and natural history can be enormously useful so it is worthwhile to subscribe to at least a few of them. Since magazines are published monthly or quarterly, they are able to report timely information regarding recent advances in photography. While field techniques change slowly for nature photography, equipment choices change rapidly. The latest information about new cameras, lenses, tripods, printers, and software quickly appears in magazines. In addition to up-to-date...

Color Of Light

The color of light is determined by its wavelength. In college physics, I met Roy G. Biv who isn't a person, but rather a way to memorize the sequence of visible colors in the light. If you take the first letter of each color in the series of colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, you generate the mnemonic device Roy G. Biv. Red light has the longest wavelength of the colors listed here and the wavelengths get progressively shorter as you proceed to violet. Short...

Equivalent exposure reciprocity

F-numbers and shutter speeds work together to properly expose images. This is called the Law of Reciprocity. Suppose you are photographing a gorgeous mountain landscape. The camera is set on aperture priority and indicates proper exposure is 1 125 second at f 8. Since the landscape has a near foreground and distant background, depth of field is needed to get Stopping down to f 22 is necessary here to keep both the arch in the near foreground, the Alabama Hills, and the Sierra Nevada Mountain...

Always Strive To Improve

Avoid falling into the trap where you think you know everything there is to know because you'll stop trying to learn. It is impossible to know everything about Mules-ear Wyenthia grows on dry slopes in late June around our home. This group of two blossoms and a bud makes a pleasing triangle. photography. You can always learn more and improve your photographs. Every excellent nature photographer constantly strives to improve their skills and knowledge about photography. There are two major ways...

Long Macro Lens Pros And Cons

Macro lenses are widely available in three common focal lengths. You may find macro lenses for your system in the 50 mm, 100 mm, and 200 mm range. The exact focal length may not precisely match these numbers, but they should be close. For instance, the Nikon intermediate macro is a 105 mm lens while the long Canon macro is 180 mm in focal length. Longer macros are more expensive and weigh more than shorter focal length macros so these factors need to be considered. However, if money isn't a...

Recommended Tripod Features

1 Sturdy enough to support the largest lens you own 2 The legs must spread straight out so the camera can be supported close to the ground 3 The centerpost should be short 4 The legs locks must be easy to use and work smoothly 5 Fresh water should not damage the legs 6 When the legs are fully extended, you should be able to peer through the cameras vlewflnder without stooping over Your tripod should be sturdy so it needs to have some weight to support heavy lenses and camera bodies. Many good...

Exposure Compensation

Using automatic exposure is a proven way to effectively take many wonderful images. Since you know meters have problems with subject reflectance, it is necessary to learn to compensate the exposure. You'll find that at least half the time you need some exposure compensation to get the very best exposure. Fortunately, exposure compensation is easy to do, especially when you have the histogram and highlight alert to guide you. Exposure compensation is most likely necessary anytime you photograph...

Digital Nature Photography The Art and the Science

AMSTERDAM BOSTON HEIDELBERG LONDON NEW YORK OXFORD PARIS SAN DIEGO SAN FRANCISCO SINGAPORE SYDNEY TOKYO Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier Acquisitions Editor Diane Heppner Developmental Editor Valerie Geary Publishing Services Manager George Morrison Project Manager Kathryn Liston Assistant Editor Doug Shults Marketing Manager Marcel Koppes Interior Design Alisa Andreola Cover Design Maria Mann Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier 30 Corporate Drive, Suite 400, Burlington, MA 01803, USA...