A camera allows the person behind it to fully appreciate what this planet has to offer, especially when it comes to observing nature. Imagine a sun setting or rising over a magnificent mountain range, a majestic waterfall crashing against the sharp rocks below it, a bird plunging to take its prey, or even an insect just going about its day.
Photographers understand that capturing the rare and often elusive subjects found in the great outdoors should be one of the must-experience shoots that every shutterbug should take on.
If you’re planning to go on an epic nature photography adventure, this article will help you understand the basics, especially in making sure that your camera bag is ready and packed. Unlike other types of photography that can be completed in a home studio, nature photography is mostly done out there in nature, or sometimes in the wild.
While it sounds exciting, it often means that you are away from the source of basic necessities in photography: outlets to charge your devices, easily accessible equipment needed for a particular shoot, extra memory cards, and even food and water source to give you more time to wait for that once in a lifetime shot.
What is Nature Photography?
In definition, nature photography talks about a wide range of photography types that are taken outdoors. The purpose of this type of taking photos is to display sights and scenes that take place in the natural setting. The most common subjects are wildlife, landscape, plants, and even insects.
In order to capture these moments, the know-how in photography is not enough. It also requires a basic understanding of the subject that you are taking, how they behave in their natural environment, and how you can capture the best moments that give you a glimpse of their everyday existence.
What Camera Equipment Do You Need for Nature Photography?
The must-have nature photography kit that should be in your camera bag should give you, first, the peace of mind that you’re ready. Secondly, how you use your equipment should give you the assurance that you’re spending those precious and limited time wisely. Third and most importantly, you’re sure that you have all you need to capture that most epic shot.
Here are the things that you should keep in mind for a nature photography trip:
Choose a good camera
Needless to say, you’re gonna have to choose a good camera that is perfect for nature photography. Remember that you do not need highly expensive gear just to be successful at it. While expensive cameras can offer you the best experience in nature photography, most of them are heavy and not so ideal to bring to the outdoors. This is true especially if it’s your first time.
Stick to the most comfortable camera that you can carry. Make sure that it is capable of using Manual Mode. Why? Nature is unpredictable. Ever-changing weather conditions, light coming from different directions, and even the lack of light sources can make or break your nature photography trip. Manual mode gives you the freedom to easily make adjustments to the exposure and ISO values, aperture, and shutter speed depending on what the shot demands.
Here are other factors that you should consider when choosing the camera for nature photography:
The size of the sensor
This is the actual physical size of your camera’s sensor. This factor determines the quality of the image that you can get, depending on your gear’s sensor size. For instance, large sensors allow your camera to absorb more light. This is ideal for environments, such as forests with thick trees and foliage, as well as other places with low light situations.
The ability to use other lenses
As mentioned earlier, your camera does not have to be expensive. However, it should have interchangeable lenses. This will help you find the right lens that best suits that type of nature photography that you are taking on.
Bring the right lenses
As mentioned earlier, nature photography deals with different types of subjects. Know the specific subject that you want to capture early on. This will help you focus your camera equipment list on the type of shoots that you will deal with.
Here are the most common lenses used for different nature photography types:
For Wildlife Photography
For instance, if you’re shooting wildlife, you’re gonna need a telephoto lens or zoom lens to capture those magnificent beasts from afar. Not just for your safety. Keeping your distance will allow you to observe them in their natural state, thus, giving you a genuine wildlife scene to capture.
For insect photography
On the other hand, if you’re planning to capture the tiny little world of insects through insect photography, also known as insect macro photography, you’re gonna rely on a macro lens. Macro lenses have specialized optics that allow you to magnify your camera’s view and capture these creatures in their little world. This will give you more extreme close-up views of your subjects and their environment.
For Landscape Photography
Wide-angle lenses give you the opportunity to capture a wide frame of a breathtaking landscape outdoors. It also gives you a detailed, high-definition shot of every part of the image while not worrying about out-of-focus areas and blurry images. It makes sure that you don’t miss a single, important detail.
Pro Tip: A complement to your camera lens for nature photography is a polarizing filter. Polarized filters are your best pick for this session because they help you control the light sources in unpredictable environments. These filters help in eliminating glare, reducing reflections in water, and protecting your camera sensor from ultraviolet rays.
Take a tripod with you
Not bringing a tripod during a nature photography shoot is one of the mistakes that many beginner nature photographers make. They think that because wildlife photography can be unpredictable, they need their camera ready and hand-held so they can easily take the shot in every direction. While this makes sense, one thing professional photographers understand is that you need patience and timing to take a perfect, high-definition shot.
A tripod allows you to get sharper photos of fast-moving objects and fast-paced scenes because it allows your camera to stand in a stable, well-calculated position. Observing wildlife behavior will give you an idea about how they move and act. You can predict their pattern and position your camera in the right direction. Aside from giving you a more stable stand, a tripod will eliminate the worries of blurry shots.
Pack a remote camera trigger
With a remote camera trigger combined with the stability of your tripod, the manual mode of your camera, and the accuracy of your chosen lens, you’ll be unstoppable. A remote camera trigger can help you capture a wide array of events and subjects without worrying about blurry images and missed opportunities.
Capturing high-speed events like elusive wildlife coming at its prey, a soaring eagle, or a hovering hummingbird is just a shutter release away. If you’re planning to take a high-definition image of a landscape or even speed up the scenic views of nature and the starry sky above it, a camera trigger will also help you smartly and efficiently plan the shots.
Camera triggers in the market today each have specializations. Some triggers can help you capture high-speed events like fast-moving animals or even lightning strikes. Some can help you detect motion and movement, so you don’t have to manually click your camera to capture every significant shoot.
Other triggers help you capture a well-timed HDR photo of a nature scene without standing behind your camera and adjusting your settings when necessary. Depending on what you need for your nature photography adventure, you have to choose what to bring with you. However, you have a choice to enjoy the best of what all of them have to offer in one device: MIOPS Camera Trigger.
What is MIOPS Camera Trigger and why is it a must-have nature photography device?
MIOPS Camera Trigger is an intuitive and smart camera trigger that has been in the camera bags of beginner and professional nature photographers alike for years. The camera trigger is also the first trigger that has the ability to be connected to your smartphone device for a more powerful and diverse functionality.
What can MIOPS offer for nature photography beginners and professionals?
As a camera trigger, this specific MIOPS device has a built-in Light Sensor that helps you capture high-speed events outdoors, including lightning strikes. Its Sound Sensor helps you detect a photo opportunity in the wild by firing your camera as soon as a loud sound is detected.
The device also has a Motion Sensor through a laser mode that detects movement, releases your camera’s shutter, and effortlessly takes a shot. This mode is very popular among nature photographers that specialize in wildlife photography, bird photography, and even insect photography.
Additionally, the MIOPS trigger has a Timelapse mode and HDR mode to capture nature's beautiful colors in a hyperspeed mode and to capture highly detailed and optimum resolution shots of nature scenes, respectively.
Beyond nature photography, the MIOPS camera trigger offers a variety of opportunities to shoot and capture some of the most epic and rare scenes indoors and outdoors. For a wide range of photography types, it has been one of the essentials that should be in every photographer’s camera bag.
Another gadget that MIOPS offers you to create perfect macro insect or flower photographs is the new Slider+. When it comes to taking beautiful nature photography focus stacking is an important aspect. MIOPS Slider+ provides you the perfect focus stacking to shot higher quality and stable photos.
You can control all functions from your smartphone.
You can control all functions from your smartphone.
Determine if you need lighting equipment
Depending on the type of nature photography that you’re about to take on, you’ll have to figure out if you need additional lighting equipment. Deciding whether or not you need them should be based on the weather condition, the time of the day that you’re doing the shoot, as well as the time of the year.
Landscape photography often does not deal with ever-changing light conditions. If there is, a quick post-process will do the trick. For macro photography and high-speed photography, however, many photographers prefer using flashguns. Capturing insects, for example, involves a small, low-lit area. Soft lighting can be helpful in capturing the details as well as the colors of the specific subject.
Don’t forget the essentials
Your camera gear may be the most important equipment kit that you need for a successful nature photography session. However, failing to bring the following essential items can ruin your trip and make you regret not putting them in your camera bag.
Here are the non-camera items that you need for a great nature photography trip:
A tool kit is important especially when you’re out in the wild and you need to look after your camera gear. For instance, if you’re using telephoto lenses, you know that their mounting foot is attached through little bolts.
What happens if they loosen and you need to tighten them? This is where bringing hex keys comes in. Make sure that your lens is tight and secure to prevent wobbles and blurry images. The same applies to your tripod’s mechanism. Tripod plates sometimes come loose so bringing a multi-tool with you is non-negotiable.
Camera Bag Rain Cover
Most camera bags are waterproof but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Nature and the outdoors can sometimes have unpredictable weather conditions. A good rain cover will protect your most precious gear from the elements.
Extra Batteries and Memory Cards
Remember that you’re probably gonna be outside for the entire day or even for several days. Bring with you extra camera batteries, fully charged, so you can make the most out of your trip. Your memory cards should be cleared. You don’t have to worry about deleting old photos or deleting new shots just to make room for new images.
Don’t rely on your telephoto lens to spot photo opportunities from a distance. Aside from it being time-consuming, remember that this type of lens is heavy and will require you to spend energy. This energy should be conserved for the actual action. Bringing a small pair of binoculars will not only save your camera’s battery and your physical energy but will also give you a quick view of the environment around you.
Maps, Compass, and Others Essentials
You’re in the great outdoors. Treat it like any other camping trip. You’re gonna need the essentials. Bring with you a map, a compass, and a reliable headlamp for when your electric-powered devices fail. Make sure you return home safe and sound. Cleaning wipes should be in your bag, too.
You’ll be out in nature, against the elements. Dust, dirt, and other particles that might obstruct your lens can ruin a good shoot. Most importantly, pack and have your snacks ready. Nature photography requires time and patience. Make sure that you’re physically strong and alert to capture anything that nature has to offer.
So there you have it. A complete nature photography kit should be in your camera bag, especially if you are a beginner. However, if you also want to fully upgrade your game in this type of photography and beyond, we can help you take the first step by checking out these nature photography and other types of photography essentials here.
Related Article 1: Equipments You Need For Macro Photography
Related Article 2: The Ultimate Guide to Insect Macro Photography
Blog Credit: Charm Villalon
Charm is a writer and a visual artist. Her drive to share ideas and stories is evident in her background in communication arts and language studies. Years of professional experience in content creation have given her a broad proficiency with the process of engaging online communities. An appreciation for multiple languages and cultures drives her to seek out experiences and capture these moments through her writing, digital art, and photography.
Image Credit: Unsplash, Samuel Scicluna