The camping season is well underway, and you’re probably busy right now checking out some of the top hiking trails with the best views, and maybe you’re even researching the best camping spots in your country. While there are many things you need to think about when organizing an outdoor escapade like packing the essential camping and hiking gear, bringing the right provisions and clothes, staying fit and healthy for hiking, and the like, you should also think about how you’re going to keep the memory of this amazing trip alive.
Without a doubt, you’re going to do it by snapping some pics along the way, but have you the tools and the skills to create some truly breathtaking photographs? This year, instead of simply taking photos without much deliberation, you want to take your outdoor photography to the next level. It will not only be great for your IG feed but taking beautiful, artistic photos will make you revisit the album often and reminisce about your adventure for years to come.
So let’s see what it takes to become a better nature photographer just in time for your next camping or hiking trip into the breathtaking outdoors.
Bring some quality hardware
The tools you use to snap photos are by no means the most important element of successful outdoor photography, but we can’t pretend that a good camera won’t make your job a lot easier. Having a good camera with a variety of options and features is important if you want some flexibility in your work and if you want to take quality photos even if the conditions aren’t exactly perfect. The right camera will also do a lot of the work for you, like adjusting symmetry, focus, lighting, and more – which is great for a novice photographer.
Of course, let’s not forget the fact that the better the camera lens, the more details you’ll be able to capture in every photo. When it comes to choosing the right gear, you can always go with a quality smartphone camera, as modern smartphones have everything you need to take nature photos almost like a pro.
That said, if you truly want to snap some unforgettable pics, then you will need a good DSLR camera. Because DSLRs are tailor-made for quality photography, they have far more powerful lenses, better light sensitivity, better shutter and focus, depth of field control, and many other perks that smartphones don’t have. You can also swap out different lenses for different occasions.
Capture the special moments
Camping and hiking are fun and diverse activities with many opportunities to take some truly unique photographs. Many beginner photographers, but also hikers and campers, focus solely on the main act of walking through nature or pitching a tent – but it’s the unique activities within that you should be looking for instead. Let’s put this into perspective.
For example, camping is much more than sitting around the fire with your family or friends. Hiking is much more than taking photos of people walking uphill. If you want to make your photographs unique, look for the special moments instead and avoid crowded hiking trails. When someone takes out the guitar as you’re all sitting around the campfire, that’s your cue to look for the ideal moment to snap a photo.
Look for emotion and find an approach that tells a story. When you’re hiking with your party, try to take photos of yourself or your party members with a particularly beautiful backdrop in the distance, capture emotional moments when you reach the summit, and even find a beautiful composition in something as simple as drinking water from a spring.
Take some lessons before you go
It should go without saying that practice makes perfect, but you could also be practicing something wrong your whole life without knowing, which is why it’s important to get some professional guidance. In the weeks leading up to your trip, take the time to find a photography course in your area, and learn about outdoor photography from experienced artists.
This is a big trend nowadays in countries where camping and hiking are a big part of the local culture, for example in Australia, where people regularly sign up for photography courses before going hiking into the breathtaking Blue Mountains from Sydney, or when they’re getting ready to go deep into the outback. Wherever you’re from, though, and wherever you’re going, it’s a good idea to take some classes to improve your skills through professional guidance and coaching.
Wait for the perfect moment
Patience is a virtue when you’re taking photos in the great outdoors, and if you just stop to observe and listen, you will see many wonderful opportunities starting to unfold. Don’t just run around snapping photos, instead, be very deliberate with where you point your camera, and look for those moments that are worthy of your attention.
Observe your surroundings, and just wait. If you are trying to snap a truly remarkable photo of the landscape, wait for the perfect light and time of day. If you’re taking pictures of members of your party, wait for them to be in a perfect position, and take photos when it’s slightly overcast, as direct sunlight can ruin the image.
If you’re trying to take a photo of an animal, like your companion donkey, make sure the animal is calm and relaxed and look for an interesting angle. Apply this calm, deliberate mindset whenever you’re taking a photo, and you will start seeing better results almost immediately.
Frame and orchestrate your shots
Of course, as much as waiting for the perfect moment or being patient pays off, you don’t want to let chance dictate your work. Remember, you’re the artist here, and you have the freedom to set the stage as you see fit.
To that end, you can sometimes stage and orchestrate photographs to capture some truly creative moments. You can use various props you brought from home or something from your surroundings. Found a hollow tree stump? Have someone stand in it with their arms towards the sky, as if they were the tree.
Have you stumbled upon a shallow river? Use a stick to act as a fishing spear and snap a photo of someone hunting for fish as our ancestors used to do – the possibilities here are endless, so let your imagination run wild.
Over to you
Taking photos on your next camping or hiking trip is one of the best ways to make this a memorable experience, but you also have an opportunity here to make it truly unforgettable. Use these tips to take your nature photography to the next level and snap some amazing photos on your escapades.
Sophia Smith is a lifestyle blogger, graphic designer and a travel enthusiast. She is very passionate about eco-friendly and green topics, sustainable fashion, eco beauty, and conscious business. Sophia's other hobbies centre around her love for yoga, wellness rituals and living in balance with nature. She loves sharing meaningful content that inspires people and has covered topics ranging from organic products and sustainability to self-care and mental health.
Sophia has contributed to a number of publications including Eco Warrior Princess, Naughty Nutrition, Herbs Mother Earth Living, Yoga Trade, Sivana Spirit, Bonvita Style, Carousel, and Cause Artist.
You can find out more about her writing by following her on: Twitter (@sophia_bri)