Nature photography refers to a wide range of photography taken outdoors and devoted to displaying natural elements such as landscapes, wildlife, plants, and close-ups of natural scenes and textures. Nature photography tends to put a stronger emphasis on the aesthetic value of the photo than other photography genres, such as photojournalism and documentary photography.
Nature photographs are published in scientific, travel and cultural magazines such as National Geographic Magazine and Audubon Magazine or other more specific magazines such as Outdoor Photographer and Nature’s Best Photography, as well as a growing hobby as photography is getting more popular in general.
Landscape art created by a camera rather than a brush, landscape photography is a genre meant to show the beauty of the natural world. Most landscape photographers strive to show as little human activity as possible, ideally none, in their photos. Instead, the subjects are landforms, weather, and ambient light. (See: Golden Hour.)
Waterfalls are especially popular, as are mountain vistas. These often call for neutral density or polarizing filters.
Landscapes are most often created with a wide angle lens (24 mm and 35 mm are especially popular) and a tripod. Small apertures (f/11 to f/22) are used to maximize depth of field. Many photographers use medium or large format systems to record as much detail as possible, although the vast majority of landscapes shot today are from digital SLRs and compact cameras.
Wildlife photography is devoted to capturing interesting animals in action, such as eating, fighting, or in flight. Although usually shot in the wild, game farms are also a frequent location for wildlife photography.
The techniques of wildlife photography differ greatly from those used in landscape photography. For example, in wildlife photography wide apertures are used to achieve a fast shutter speed, freeze the subject’s motion, and blur the backgrounds, while landscape photographers prefer small apertures. Wildlife is also usually shot with long telephoto lenses from a great distance; the use of such telephoto lenses frequently necessitates the use of a tripod (since the longer the lens, the harder it is to handhold). Many wildlife photographers use blinds or camouflage.
Macro / Texture
The macro photography article explains close-up photography in general, however this is also a type of nature photography. While common macro subjects – bees, dragonflies, and so on – could be described as wildlife, their world also makes for good photography.
Many photographers record images of the texture in a stone, tree bark, leaf, or any of other small scene. Many of these images are abstract. Tiny plants and mushrooms are also popular subjects. Close-up nature photography doesn’t always need a true macro lens, however the scenes here are small enough that they’re generally considered different from regular landscapes.
Use of Color
The presence (or absence) of color is not a requirement of nature photography. More black and white photos are being produced by digital means today than on film in the 1930s.
Ansel Adams is famous for his black and white depictions of nature, which are still held in high regard today. Galen Rowell praised Fuji Velvia film for its bright, saturated colors, asking “Who wants to take dull pictures that will last a hundred years?” Both men distinguish between photography as an expressive art form and sensitometry; an accurate reproduction is not necessary.