Outdoor photography ideas you can use anywhere
Look close up
Mel says… Niall stressed the distinction between narrative pictures and aesthetic ones, and needing to ensure you decide which approach you take before pressing the shutter.
As we began our trek down Gannochy Gorge, the traditional way to shoot this photogenic stretch of river would be to shoot wide shots of the waterfalls, but what took my attention was this turquoise rock pool – I love the way that the light creates patterns on the water.
To get this abstract I had to scramble over the rocks, take my walking boots off and risk ruining my manicure. It felt really cold standing in two feet of water, but it was worth it when I saw the results!
Increase the ISO
Mel says… This is one of the shots that we had planned to take on the day. The beech trees in the Gorge were just coming into leaf, and this high-key telephoto shot is a great way of showing that spring had come, and that the long Scottish winter was finally over!
One of the difficulties was that the branches were moving more than I had expected, and to get a sharp picture I had to increase the ISO in order to get a shutter speed of 1/500 sec to freeze to retain the detail, and I used Manual mode to ensure a bright enough overall exposure.
For an alternative shot of the spring leaves, Melanie fitted a variable ND filter and set her shutter speed to B, and then timed the exposures using the stopwatch on her iPhone.
Bring your own background!
Mel says… I’d seen Niall’s white-background pictures of flora and fauna beforehand, and was fascinated as to how he made pictures that looked so clean and uncluttered out in the wilds. As we walked, Niall spotted this Violet Ground Beetle scuttling along and quickly leapt into action.
With the beetle safely manoeuvred into a box with a brush, I soon discovered why he was carrying two backpacks, as the components of his field studio were unpacked and assembled.
The beetle was released into a suspended transparent tank with a white diffuser serving as a background, and both backdrop and beast were lit with separate flashguns.
I don’t like creepy-crawlies usually, but I was really impressed in how well this Heath Robinson apparatus captured the usually unseen beauty and detail of this purple beast!
Try a panning technique
Mel says… This abstract shot reminds me of Monet impressionistic masterpiece – and is simply created using a variation of the slow-shutter-speed panning technique you might normally use for moving subjects.
On this occasion, you move the camera upwards following the vertical lines of the tree trunks during an exposure of around 1/4 sec. The results are rather unpredictable, and I found I needed to take lots of frames to get the kind of result I wanted.
One of the secrets, I discovered, is that you need to keep the movement as smooth as possible in order to get strong straight vertical blur lines.
A telephoto lens works best for this panning technique, so that the tree trunks look densely packed in the frame.
Look for natural frames
Mel says… We had taken some wide-angle worm’s-eye view shots of the trees silhouetted against the sky, and had liked the results, but then we found this folly in the wood, with a wide circular opening where its roof should have been, and the view looking up added another dimension to this type of shot.
I think the result is very mysterious, and reminds me of the film The Blair Witch Project. I used a 10-20mm super-wide lens, but the result is more reminiscent of a circular fisheye. This is one of my personal favourite shots of the day.
PAGE 1: Meet our professional photographer and apprentice
PAGE 2: Outdoor photography ideas you can use anywhere
PAGE 3: Final tips from our professional photographer
PAGE 4: Our professional photographer’s recommended gear
PAGE 5: Shot of the Day
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