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Shooting the Natural Environment

by James Farley

The natural environment is by far one of the greatest opportunities for photographic endeavours available to us, having such an endless variety of subjects, but also so many different ways to capture them with photography. The aesthetic qualities of the environment have always been a huge focus in the photographic community, with many famous and successful photographers basing their entire careers and bodies of work on documenting the natural world.

Whether you’re shooting plants, wildlife, or landscapes, the environment has an extremely wide variety of subjects, and whether it’s in your backyard or out in the wilderness, there are always opportunities to engage in photographing your environment. It’s important to remember to not damage the environment while shooting, by littering or endangering the natural habitats of animals.

Macro photography is often very popular when it comes to photographing nature and the environment, as it can capture miniscule and fascinating details within the subject that are often missed with the naked eye. Creative photographic techniques and equipment can be used to create stunning abstract artworks from simple plants as well, such as using creative effects lenses, filters, or even just shooting from unusual angles.

Personally, when photographing the environment, I have always preferred shooting specifically in overcast weather. Cloud cover helps to diffuse the sunlight, and removes most of the harsh shadows, which is extremely helpful in places with a lot of shadow, such as among trees and bushes.


The choice of lenses for nature photography has a huge impact on the kind of images you will end up with, and can be largely dependent on the style of photography you are aiming for. Macro lenses work fantastically for capturing tiny details, such as flowers, insects, and even bringing out beautiful patterns in objects such as rocks or tree bark.
For wildlife photography, it can help to use a telephoto zoom lens, which can allow you to photograph the subject from further away, while also giving you some versatility in focal length.

Protection and Cleaning
Shooting outdoors and in weather can present quite a few extra dangers to your camera equipment, so it’s always important to come prepared with some protective and cleaning gear. Depending on what kind of photography you are pursuing, equipment such as rain covers or underwater camera housing can be essential. Cleaning products are always necessary, especially in situations where the camera and lens can get particularly dirty.

There are a few different filters available that can assist when shooting in the environment. UV filters cut down how much ultraviolet light gets through the camera lens, which despite being invisible to the naked eye, can reduce the quality of your images, especially on bright, glary days. Using a circular polariser filter is always a great idea, as it reduces reflections when shooting water, and also helps to make the colours in your images more naturally vibrant.

James Farley works at DCW and is a keen photographer. Check out more of his work here.