Tree, Nature, and Landscape Photography Tips for Beginners

Nature is a great subject for photos. A few of my thoughts on capturing the beauty.

With so many great cameras on the market today, it is getting easier for photographers of all skill levels to shoot amazing photographs. However, having a good camera is only one part of the equation. Here are a few tips and tricks for capturing compelling images of the natural world.

I find that the best time to take photographs outdoors is early in the morning, or just before sundown. In the afternoon, when the sun is high in the sky, the lighting can be harsh and shadows are severe. Overcast days with their soft, diffused lighting can be great days for shooting – if you don’t need a blue sky with clouds in your pictures. If it’s a sunny day, be aware that shooting into the sun can cause “sun spots” (lens flare) on your images, and your subject might appear dark, because it is backlit.

Redbud Tree Photo with Sun Spot in Top Right Corner

Be conscious of the composition of your photographs, and have a critical eye when looking through your viewfinder. Say, for example, you want to capture a few images of some landscaping. Walk around and see where best to position yourself for taking photos. Pay attention to the subject you want to feature, and also to what appears in the background. If a beautiful, tall tree will be a focal point in your shots, consider putting it to the left or right of dead center – your photos will be more dynamic.

Pay attention to the “little things” in your shots and do a little styling or editing if necessary. For example, would the photo of your front yard look better if you took the time to roll up the garden hose and move your watering can?… Little improvements like these can add up and really make a difference.



Close Up Picture of Bur Oak

I have a 35mm macro lens for my D-SLR camera that I like to use for close-ups of flowers, leaves and insects. If you like shooting close-ups, a macro lens might be a good investment for you, too. Also, many of today’s point-and-shoot cameras have a “macro mode” for shooting subjects at close range. It is usually designated by a flower symbol, but check your manual for details.

Have Fun and Experiment:

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different camera settings, compositions, and viewpoints. Like most things, practice makes perfect…and you’ll often find the real creativity and visual poetry is a result of an experiment. Go for it!

Carrie B

Carrie Benes is a graphic designer for the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation, and enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, young son, and Boston Terrier, Herman. Her camera is usually in tow. Learn more about "Tree Care" at

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