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The Green Life: Photography Tips for the Outdoorsperson

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November 13, 2013

Photography Tips for the Outdoorsperson

Man taking photograph of natureFor some of us, part of the excitement of trekking out into open meadows and forest wilderness is the attempt to capture the rich colors and immaculate scenery to share with friends and family.

But let's face it, it's impossible to replicate the grandeur of being present.

We do, however, have a few tips to help your photos do nature justice while making you an up-and-coming Ansel Adams among your friends.

1. Always check your light source. There are two things to be wary of: intensity and direction. Try to avoid the harsh light of the high noon sun. When trying to capture landscapes, the best light is found at dawn or dusk. When photographing friends or a subject, position the light so that it hits the subject from the front, not from behind. As a side note, overcast days are often great for outdoor photography, the clouds diffuse the light and your photos will come out rich without being over-exposed.

2. Use the Rule of Thirds. Try to position your subject (butterfly, mountain goat, or precariously perched tree) using the Rule of Thirds. Imagine placing a grid across your photograph, dividing it up into nine equally spaced cubes. In following this rule, you'll want to place your subject at the intersections of these lines or along those lines. It is thought to provide a stronger composition and more interesting photograph than centering the subject in the frame would.

3. Look for patterns in nature. The human eye loves patterns, but to find them in nature you need to get in close for a detail shot. If you have a digital camera, don't hesitate to get down on the ground or zoom-in to get close enough to see patterns emerging. 

4. Do the Cha-Cha, the Visual Cha-Cha. To really capture being in a location, you have to do the visual cha-cha. You'll want a wide shot, medium shot, and three detail shots. A wide shot would be a landscape shot, or think of it as if you were omnipresent. The medium shot would be a subject or two. And your detail shot would be the texture of a leaf or your friend's chalk-covered hands while rock climbing. Just remember wide, medium, tight-tight-tight

 -- Image courtesy of iStockphoto/joruba

Christine_SMChristine Coester is an editorial intern at Sierra. A fan of flora and fauna, she has a passion for conservation and environmental stewardship. Currently a graduate student at the University of Missouri-Columbia, she is studying journalism with the hopes of making the world a better and greener place.


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