14 February 2019
It’s the height of summer and the fauna and flora around the Estate is nothing short of spectacular. With the bright floral colours, vibrant greenery and abundant wildlife, it’s no wonder you will want to capture nature at its picture perfect best. However, if you don’t know your aperture from your shutter speed, it can be tricky to capture an image that really does it justice. Here are some easy hints and tips that will be sure to help you capture the beauty whether you are using a DSLR, point and shoot or cellphone.
ANGLING FOR THE BEST SHOT
The wonderful thing about shooting plants and flowers is that they are so visually attractive and best of all, they stay put in the ground so you can spend time checking the best angles and perfecting your shot. Some flowers are low to the ground so try taking a shot lying on your stomach to get a fantastic angle into your composition. Animals and birdlife are natural models as they move often to create different angles for you to capture.
LIGHT IT UP
The best time to shoot nature is early morning or late afternoon when the lighting is softer. With this soft light directly in front of you, you can backlight your subjects to give them a really flattering glow from behind. You can also try and capture some rays of sun filtering through the trees if you shoot when the sun is close to the horizon. Try not to shoot around midday when the strong sun will cast harsh shadows.
For gorgeous close up flowers, firstly remember to check what is in the background. You don’t want an ugly piece of litter, that may have blown into your garden, messing up your beautiful picture. It’s a bit tricky to keep a flower still if it’s blowing in the wind so use a piece of card as a wind breaker. Also, minimize movement of the camera. This can be achieved by using a tripod or by resting on something stationary and solid such as a table, tree or even the ground. Even slowing down your breathing will eliminate any unnecessary movement. Most digital cameras and smartphones have a very effective auto-focus function which works out the best settings for you at a click of a button. Otherwise use a macro lens and play around with the F-numbers to control the depth of field for softer backgrounds and sharp focus on the flower.
PLAYING THE FIELD
With so many beautiful landscapes to choose from, the best approach is to keep it simple. Look for nice lighting which will give the picture warmth, contrast and eliminate a flat end result. The Rule of Thirds teaches you to break your composition down into thirds horizontally and vertically so you have 9 parts. Points of interest are then placed along one of those lines or an an intersecting point to create well balanced, interesting shots. For example, a bird sitting in a tree can be placed on one of the intersecting points or a lone tree in the landscape can be placed along one of the lines.
It’s a bit more difficult to capture great wildlife pictures with your cell phone as often you can’t get close enough to your subject. It would be wonderful if we all had big telescopic lenses to play with but even if you don’t you can still get great images with an entry level DSLR, a point and shoot camera or one of the latest smartphones by following the above tips on lighting and composition. Wildlife is generally habitual with very simple, straightforward lives. You already have an abundance of wildlife on your doorstep so with some patience, you can figure out some of their daily routines and characteristics such as how and when it feeds. This will help with planning your shot. Set up a scene by placing a bird feeder or bird bath in your garden. Remember, birds are vulnerable when they are feeding or bathing so make sure there is a bush or shrub close by for them to fly into should they feel threatened. Otherwise, it will only take a couple of days for them to feel comfortable and start to make regular visits.
There are so many opportunities to perfect your photography around the estate, so get out and enjoy the multipurpose paths, take a picnic down to the dam or snap a few shots while the kids are busy on the jungle gym. The great thing about this digital age is that you can practice to your heart’s content then edit and delete as much as you want. Have you captured a great shot around the Estate? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and it could feature on our Facebook page. Happy snapping!