The Right Digital Camera for the

With all the digital camera choices available on the market now, which one is best for the nature photographer To be honest, there really isn't a correct answer. Just like film cameras, digital cameras come in all sorts of flavors, and your personal tastes will dictate a lot of the choices you'll make. There are professionals out there who will only work with high-end professional digital cameras, such as the Canon EOS IDs Mark II with its speed of four frames per second (4 fps) and its...

Capturing Abstract Images

Abstract nature photographs are really a difficult concept for a traditional photographer to grasp. You really have to turn your imagination loose to be able to visualize a nature subject as an abstract, photograph the subject, and then finish the work in Photoshop. It's a new way of thinking while you're shooting, and it can even be a fun exercise for a typical photo outing. Another way to capture abstracts is to go to your image library. Honestly, most of my abstract in nature images were...

Composition and Camera Settings for Wildlife Photos

As with landscape photography, I suggest you follow a rigid workflow when you go out in the field to shoot wildlife photos. Most of the rules are going to be the same, but shooting wildlife poses specific situations you need to address. Landscapes don't breathe, run, or get mad when you get near their young. Depending on how serious you are about photographing wildlife in the field, you might want to concentrate on learning patterns of animal behavior, such as birds or deer if they are your...

Choosing the Right Accessories

Choosing the right accessories for your digital camera is almost as important as choosing the digital camera itself. For nature photographers, there are a number of accessories you should have in your camera bag when going out in the field, in addition to a good supply of bubble gum and aspirin. Nature photographers have different gadget needs than, let's say, a portrait photographer. Nature photographers need a greater zoom range in their lenses, possibly accessory lenses for compacts or...

Shooting Panoramic Images

Panoramas are becoming easier to accomplish because software easily allows digital photographers to stitch together separate photos taken in succession, like the sunset over Lake Huron shown in Figure 4.20. Whenever I'm out in the field shooting landscapes, I make a habit of evaluating my subjects for both individual photos and opportunities for panoramas as well. Whenever possible, I shoot a series of shots to stitch together later on my computer. I'm a fan of Photoshop's Photomerge utility....

Tripods for Nature and Landscape Photographers

As a nature photographer, I shoot 98 percent of my photos on a tripod. It's a habit I grew into years ago and I can swear by the results. A tripod is the second most important piece of equipment you could ever use the first most important piece of equipment is a good tripod. To help drive my point home, I'll tell you a little story. While out on a recent photo trip to the American southwest with my travel group, the Red Rock Five, I was shooting some scenes at Monument Valley, Utah. One scene,...

Auxiliary Storage

I've found that an external hard disk drive is a necessity for nature photographers. We tend to shoot many more photos than other types of photographers, and often we take tens, if not hundreds, of photos in one location. Today's digital cameras can capture anywhere from 8- to 1 6.7-megapixel images that translate into large files of 6 to 17 megabytes each It won't take long to fill up a 1 60-gigabyte hard disk with files of that size. My laptop is equipped with a 100-gigabyte hard disk, and I...

Making Camera Settings for Nature and Landscape Photos

The one thing the nature photographer needs to technically master is the controls on the digital camera he or she is using. I've stressed that the most important key to great photos is the composition, but you also need to make sure your camera settings are correct to make sure you are capturing your composition correctly. To do that, you need to know what settings are appropriate for each photo. I get a lot of questions from many people who view my photographs, asking how I accomplished the...

Creating a File Management System

As a nature photographer out in the field shooting great photos, you'll be eager to get back to your computer so you can mess around with your shots. After downloading your images, you'll be excited to open Bridge, view the images you've just taken, and then process the best of the litter. The next thing you know, you'll have run the nature images through Photoshop, made a few prints, and then moved on to something else, such as cruising the Web to do some shopping for more digital camera gear...

Computers and Software for Digital Photographers

The rule of thumb when purchasing computers is to buy the biggest and fastest you can afford. For nature photographers, the rule needs to be customized a bit. I still believe you need a big, honking computer for processing your images in Photoshop, but what about when you're out in the field I don't lug around my desktop computer when I travel cross-country on a photo safari I recommend hauling a laptop. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of having both a desktop computer and a laptop,...

Advantages of Digital Cameras over Film in Nature Photography

If you're still shooting film and you haven't yet switched to digital, you're not alone. On a recent trip shooting waterfalls during peak fall color in a popular region of northern Michigan, I ran into a lot of photographers. Yes, most were shooting digital almost all of the digital photographers I ran into were using digital SLRs but I was a little surprised to see how many were still using their film-based SLRs and large-format cameras. It makes sense many nature photographers have years of...

Setting Photoshop Color Preferences

Color Configuration Dialog Box

After making sure your computer's monitor is calibrated and profiled, the next most important step in ensuring proper color management is making sure Photoshop color settings are correct and correct color profiles are assigned to your images. Believe it or not, these are the most overlooked steps for photographers using Photoshop. Making sure color preferences are correct will enable you to work in the best color environments for the different types of images you might produce, including images...

Choosing the Best Computer Displays for Working with Photos

When choosing a computer monitor for your desktop computer or as an external display for your laptop, there are a few specifications you'll need to pay attention to type, size, and dot pitch. LCD displays are becoming more popular and have quickly replaced CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) displays as the monitors of choice. For photographers, CRTs are still the best choice. CRT monitors offer the nature photographer better resolution, color, quality, and calibration. (You'll read more on calibration in...

Its All in the Head

When you make a decision about a tripod, the next thing you'll need is a tripod head. The same rules used when selecting a tripod hold true for selecting a tripod head. You'll need to take into consideration the weight of the equipment you'll be attaching to the head, the type of head that will best fit the type of shooting you'll be doing out in the field, and of course, the price. Basically, there are two types of tripod heads nature photographers prefer Pan and tilt heads. Pan and tilt heads...

Camera Backpacks and Bags

While traveling, hiking, or just driving to a local park for some nature shots, nature photographers need to haul cameras, lenses, and accessories. We all have camera bags some are suited for the field, and some really aren't. A good camera bag can be the nature photographer's best friend (see Figure 3.7). Like ice cream, digital cameras, and computers, camera bags come in all sort of flavors. You can choose shoulder bags, backpacks, hard cases, and even models that have storage room for a...

Caring for Digital Images in the Field

One situation portrait or backyard photographers that could be us sometimes don't have to worry about is what to do with our digital images while we're away from our digital darkroom. At some point, you've probably been hundreds or thousands of miles away from home, taking hundreds or thousands of digital images, and been faced with the predicament of how to download images. You do have some options Bring plenty of memory cards. I've done this before leave on an extended trip overseas and...

Clothes on Your Back and Shoes That You Wear

I'm not what you might call a well-dressed man. My typical outfit consists of jeans, black t-shirts, and moccasins, except when shooting nature photos in the field. Depending on the type of shooting I'm doing and the typical weather conditions, I transform my wardrobe to accommodate the conditions at hand. When shooting in the field, you'll need to outfit yourself with appropriate clothing, or your outing can become a miserable experience. When getting ready to venture out for nature shooting,...

Laptops for the Nature Photographer on the Go

I remember my first portable computer. It was a two-floppy Compaq Portable with a 9-inch monochrome display, and it weighed about 30 pounds You carried it around like a suitcase, and if you were carrying it home from work, you'd stretch the arm you were carrying it with. After a while, you'd wind up with one arm longer than the other If you switched arms once in a while, you'd start looking like an orangutan. You get the idea and I do like orangutans We've come a long way since the early 1980s....

Using Graphics Tablets

Nature photographers have a tendency to edit fine details in Photoshop. Almost all of us are used to using a mouse to navigate around our computer. You'll find that many professional retouchers yes, there are pros dedicated to retouching photos use finer tools to navigate around fine details of an image. The tool of choice is a graphics tablet. A graphics tablet gives you much more precise control over the brushes and tools you use in Photoshop. It's like retouching an image with a Graphics...

Desktop Computers for the Nature Photographer

Desktop computers typically contain more memory, disk space, and expandability than their portable counterparts. It's always been that way, and it will continue to be for the foreseeable future. The reason There's more room for computer manufacturers to include less-expensive components with desktops than with laptops. What that means to you is more bang for your buck you can typically get a desktop computer for far less money than a similarly equipped laptop. Desktop computers are still very...