Outdoor Photography Tips

Outdoor photography is one of the most satisfying things you can do with a camera because you’re recording the beauty of the world around you.

You can go at this as a pro or semi-pro with all the cameras and equipment, jargon, and technical terms or you can just skip all that and take great pictures you and your friends will oo-ahh over.Here are some simple outdoor photography tips to follow.

What you’ll definitely need:

1. A camera!

You’ve probably already got one, but if you haven’t, go buy one. Don’t spend a fortune. The bottom of the range Sony Cybershots are excellent little cameras for beginners that take great pictures. Since the advent of digital the quality of images from most (not all) small, simple cameras has shot up.

We have a simple guide here at Digital Camera Reviews.These are from a simple stick-it-in-your-pocket Sony Cybershot:

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The camera doesn’t see the picture – you do.

Yes, you definitely can go high-tech, get a top of the range Canon or Nikon, get a bunch of lenses, get special filters and tripods but the photos are still only going to be as good as you are.First get good at ‘seeing’ pictures, get some cool shots under your belt and then when your creativity has exceeded your technical limits by all means expand them.

2. A skylight or UV (ultraviolet) filter.

These filters reduce haze caused by UV. But that’s not why you buy the filter. You want this filter to protect your lens.

Have a look at the surface of your lens – you can do this with your glasses too. The pink or green tint is the “anti-reflective coating.”

This coating reduces flare and glare and lets the maximum amount of light through the lens. This is a coating. It can be rubbed off. Every time you clean the lens you’re in danger of wearing off that coating – and scratching your lens.Outdoors you can get dust, pollen, mist, water on your lens. Lenses are expensive, filters are cheap. So get a filter on the lens fast and if you have to clean, clean the filter while the lens stays protected.

3. Another battery.

There’s nothing worse than being out somewhere with great shots all around and your camera chokes. You can usually still squeeze a shot or two out of a digital even when it dies, by turning it on and getting the shot fast before it shuts down again.

You can even do this a couple or even a few times but this is desperation and says your powers of foresight suck. Just buy another battery and keep it charged.

4. Another memory stick.

It really hurts when you have to hunker down and perform triage on your shots – ‘Should I delete this one? How about this one? Maybe this one isn’t so good….’ If you follow the primary rule of all digital photography “Blaze away! Take lots of shots!” you will get a percentage of frames that are total duds and it’s good form to do a clean up when you have time – so long as they are total duds you are deleting.

But sooner or later you will run out of storage. Just buy a second memory stick and avoid the pain.

5. A bag to carry all this stuff in.

You need a bag for two reasons. First you want something to carry the camera, any lenses you have, spare batteries, spare memory sticks, snickers bars, manual for the camera, any filters you have, etc. Usually the bags that come with the camera won’t let you pile all this stuff in.

You also need a bag that’s relatively waterproof in case of sudden downpours. Cameras don’t like water or mud. Same for your lenses and other stuff. Lash out and buy a decent camera bag.

6. Some kind of image editing software

Most cameras come with a CD of software. Usually this program is pretty minimal, and is designed for anyone to use so it is easy to learn but will do a limited number of things.

I’ve tried various kinds of photo editing software but I always go back to Adobe Photoshop Elements. Adobe Photoshop Elements is sufficient for anything you’re likely to run into. It looks a little daunting but actually it’s quite easy to learn at a basic level. Almost anything you can do in the camera in terms of exposure correction, color, tints, you can do just as easily in Photoshop.

Comparable software with a more easily learned interface is Corel Paint Shop Pro. What you can’t fix is blurred, out of focus, or seriously over-exposed (too pale or whitish) or under-exposed (too dark) images.

What you could need/optional extras:

7. A tripod.

Some purists say you shouldn’t leave home without one. This is probably good advice for a pro or semi-pro, but if you get a cheap flimsy tripod you will soon learn to hate it, and a decent, solid, useful, tripod can be quite expensive and a hassle to lug around. A tripod’s main purpose is to eliminate blurred images due to camera movement.

Outdoors, your subject is usually pretty well lit, unless you’re shooting sunsets, dawn or dusk scenes, or night shots. Most digital cameras have an automatic exposure function that works just fine in low light by slowing down the shutter speed to let in more light. However, unless you have trained as a special forces sniper, when your shutter speed goes below 1/60th of a second, you’ll probably get camera movement.

With a telephoto zoom, any slight tremble or shake is magnified when you press the shutter. 1/125th is about the lowest you can safely go with tele zoom without some aid like a tripod. The simple solution is to rest the camera on something: a rock, a stump, a fence, or lean against a tree. Failing that, loop the strap under an arm so you are holding the camera against the restraint of the strap.

You can still get movement when you depress the shutter (even with a tripod), so now set your self-timer and use it to trigger the shutter while making sure the camera is as still as possible. Don’t breathe.

This shot was taken with tele zoom resting the camera on a fence post and using the self-timer.

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Outdoor Photography Tips continued…