Tips for capturing great nature photos.

Nature photography is a growing profession in the world today. More and more nature magazines and programs are showing up, and the demand for the content is higher than it has been in a very long time. Whether you are an aspiring professional nature photographer, or just a backyard hobbyist, the following tips can help you get the shots you are looking for.

Everyone knows that nature shots either turn out nice, or they turn out horrible. Most times it isn't the fault of the camera or the photographer, but the fault of the unpredictable nature of the world. Animal shots in particular seem to be the trickiest ones to get, since animals work on their own schedules. Landscapes are easier in concept, but just because something doesn't move doesn't mean it is an easy shot. A lot of factors come into play for both types of shots, from weather to equipment to the level of your patience.

When trying to film animals, it is important that you first study a little bit about the creature you are trying to get on film. Read about it's feeding and mating habits, what periods of the year it is in your area, and how it responds to humans. Take birds for example. Let's say you are trying to get a shot of a Cedar Waxwing. You would need to know that they are pack birds that travel quite often, moving from tree too tree devouring the food as they go. Cedar Waxwings are fond of berry and cherry trees, and can be found from the Canadian border down to the woodlands of Kentucky. They are more active just after the mating season, when their children are young. They are harder to find in the winter months, as they have to travel farther to find food than they do in he blooming season. So you could take this information that you have gathered and find a Cedar Waxwing quite easily.

While that was just an example of one small species of bird, you could apply that same example to any animal you are trying to film. However, there are dangers that you should be aware of. You want to be especially careful in the springtime when shooting most large mammals, and even some birds. You will find that most creatures are very protective of their young, and if they happen to smell you and consider you a danger to their brood, you may well end up in trouble. Obviously dangerous animals like wolves and bears would be even more dangerous, but don't discount the protective nature of smaller animals. Your best weapon as a nature photographer is to stay unseen and scent free.

The most important factor for capturing those special animal shots everyone loves is patience. If you can't sit in one spot for hours on end waiting for your opportunity, then don't expect to get much in return. Of course, you could get extremely lucky, and have the perfect shot fall right in your lap. It's best to just pick a spot where you think your target animal will be, and sit there. Keep your eyes and ears open, and eventually the animal will show up.

For landscape shots, you need to follow a different set of rules. First, and most important, be careful when shooting in dangerous locations. Obviously, a volcano or a deep cave would be pretty dangerous. But you also need to be aware of shooting at seemingly normal locations in the wild. For example, if you are shooting in the woods, find out what creatures live there, and whether or not they will be mating at the time you want to shoot. You don't want to catch a mountain lion or a bear off guard. Don't just focus on your target area, pay close attention to all of your surroundings.

Before you venture out, make sure the weather is going to be favorable for your shooting. Photography requires a certain amount of light, so the best natural shots should come when the sun is the highest and clearest. Shooting in darkened conditions, and even fog, may require some sort of external light like a flash or a photography lamp. The farther your target is from you, the more light it will need. For example, you won't get as great of a shot of a far off mountain at dusk compared to the shot you would get at noon.

So now you've found your spot, it's safe, and the weather is great. Your next concern is how you want to frame your photograph. Think of the borders of the photo edges, and how you'd like your shot to fit inside. Almost all cameras, even cheaper ones, have a great viewfinder and/or LCD screen. Mixed with the camera's built in zoom and focus features, you can frame the shot just the way you want. Make sure your camera is set for the right type of lighting conditions, and shoot away. Don't just take one shot, take many shots. Chances are, it will take a few shots to get the right frame, and even if you think you got it the first snap, it never hurts to take a few more just in case.

One last rule of thumb for any type of nature photography: leave it as you found it. Don't leave your trash behind, don't disturb animal habitats, and if you have to use the restroom in the wild, please look up the proper way to do so. If you absolutely have to smoke, put your butts out in a fire safe container that you plan to keep on your person. Discarded cigarettes are one of the leading causes of wildfires. Stay safe and have fun.

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