How to take interesting outdoor photographs
Whether you’re taking in the sights of London’s most renowned historic buildings or enjoying the serene landscapes of Britain’s countryside, taking some excellent outdoor photographs is a great way to remember your adventure and inform your friends about your explorations on social media. While you don’t have to be a professional photographer wielding a £2000+ camera to take a great photograph, there are some important rules to abide by if you want your photographs to be just as vivid and beautiful as the memories you have.
The golden hours
There are two specific time periods during the day which are ideal for taking outdoor photographs: the hour after the sun comes up and the hour before it goes down. There’s something incredibly enchanting about photographs which are taken during the golden hours, arguably because the gentle lighting creates a soft touch which is not replicable at other times of the day. The shadows casted by buildings, trees and vegetation during the golden hours also help to create a magical ambience. While it’s not always convenient to go exploring during these hours, you should still take the time of day into account. For instance, photographs taken in the midday sun tend to have a harshness about them which is not particularly pleasant, so try aim for the morning or late afternoon/evening.
Rule of thirds
Creating balance in your photographs is important, and this can be achieved by implementing the tried and tested ‘rule of thirds’. The rule advocates dividing the image into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, using imaginary lines to balance the picture. It is suggested that for landscape photographs, the horizon should align with the upper or lower third of the image. When photographing wildlife, it can be beneficial to align the subject with one of the two imaginary vertical lines. While intuition would tell you to place the subject in the center of the camera’s lense, by positioning the subject to the side you can create the illusion of motion or direction, which can help convey the scene as naturally as possible.
While there’s nothing wrong with taking outdoor shots with your smartphone (just remember to bring a portable charger), for truly excellent quality photographs, a DSLR camera is advised. While there are some advantages to spending thousands on a high-end camera with multiple lenses, unless you’re planning on selling your photographs professionally, don’t feel that you won’t be able to take exquisite shots with a camera that costs less than £700. Sony’s A580/A560 and A55 models remain popular for outdoor photographers, while the Nikon D7100 also has its fair share of fans. For those that want high quality without forking out for a DSLR camera, the Canon EOS 7D and Nikon D300S are both good options.
Use a tripod
Despite what you might have heard, tripods don’t have to be big and cumbersome – you can find some excellent compactable tripods at an affordable price. Even if you have a steady grip while holding the camera in your hand, a tripod will always be superior, and it can be amazing to see the difference in photo clarity once you remove the element of human movement from your shots.
Take a course
Modern cameras have a multitude of settings and functions to help you get the best image possible but it can be a daunting task figuring out which settings you should be using in any given situation. A great way to familiarise yourself with these features is to take a short photography course. As a longer term option, if you are interested in learning everything there is to know about your camera and how to get the best out of it then joining a local photography club is an excellent choice.