Creative Nature Photography: A Few Tips
Nature inspires us to photograph and capture her beauty in many ways. Sometimes it’s to document the landscape or conditions and other times it may be to create based upon our inspiration. So how do we create or become more creative in our landscape and nature photography? I’ll share a few ways I accomplish this with the hope you may unlock a few creative ways for your own photography.
Many cameras have the ability to create multiple exposures in the camera and have additional controls to help control exposure settings. This is a technique I use periodically when I wish to combine multiple elements of the landscape within a single frame. In the example above, I rotated the camera 180 degrees for each exposure and created the ribbon of blue between the orange sandstone walls. The resulting image isn’t what my eyes saw in person as I was actually standing near a parking lot. Through this technique I was able to create an image which, to me, resembles the Narrows or the Virgin River cutting through Zion Canyon. Perhaps it’s even a view from a slot canyon looking up at the sky. Either way, it wasn’t real yet the image was made from very real features in Zion National Park.
The next example of creating instead of recording is an image created with a telephoto lens looking through a backlit creosote bush. Low angle backlighting caused the seeds to appear as cotton balls and a telephoto lens threw the closer ones out of focus. I composed the image so the eye would be pulled in the center to the area of detail and contrast while being surrounded by softness. The landscape itself seemed to have this same softness yet rigid detail so in a way, it reflects the actual landscape. One additional style choice was the adjustment of white balance to cool it to the blue in this image. Blue is soothing and calming, as if under the moonlight although the original image is quite a bit warmer toned. I did attempt to recreate this image under the moonlight but found it to be much more difficult to create and the moon doesn’t interact with creosote the same way sun does. So maybe it is just a dream?
The next example is a night image (obviously), but a little different from the night photography you’re used to seeing. The comet Neowise appeared with the waxing crescent moon and I headed to a landscape of Bristlecone Pines to capture the evening duo put on their show. The two were actually much further apart than they appear here and again a double exposure created in the camera was used to capture both (no photoshop). In this image I also used a light to illuminate the out of focus tree and you may even notice the stars overlapping the tree. Although this image isn’t technically perfect (moon), it’s an image I’m extremely proud of and completely different than anything you’ve ever seen of this once in a life time phenomenon.
The final image demonstrates yet another technique but this one is less about a camera technique and more about using our eyes. Here, yellow aspens reflect in a pond while the tree trunks remain in a cool shadow (blue). The edge of the pond was significantly darker and the resulting image was flipped upside down. This entire scene was visible (that’s why I photographed this) yet it took seeing the landscape with new eyes to discover this composition.
Wrapping up, these are just a few ways to apply creativity to Nature through Photography. There are many more ways and I’ll follow up on this post with some additional examples. If you’re interested in learning even further, consider joining me for a custom workshop where we can put these examples into practice and perhaps you too can unlock or further your creative vision through Nature Photography.