Our guide on how to take great photos when you are outdoors

Sunset in Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, Brazil/ Credit:  Danilo de Castro
Sunset in Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, Brazil/ Credit: Danilo de Castro

Have smartphones killed off our photographic skills? Some would say that we never had any anyway – but actually one of the team members here at Outdoor Revival is a professional photographer of 40 years.

He is so retro that he tells stories of using 35mm film. But joking aside, he has shared some tips to help us all take more and get more from our photography when we are in the great outdoors (personally there is nothing wrong with pictures I take with my iPhone but don’t tell him that).

Do you love photography, do the stunning natural sights of the world inspire you? Many people would answer yes to this. But most outdoor photos don’t really show just how amazing the sights are.

While having the right equipment or top quality equipment can certainly help with the caliber of your photos, it is certainly not the only way to make sure that you are taking better photos. Equipment does help the look of the photograph, but it does not replace the skill that goes into properly preparing and setting up for the best photograph that you can take.

Here are some tips to help you get some of the best nature snaps that you can get, regardless of the quality of your equipment.

A big part of any photo, especially one that is taken outside, is the timing. Depending on where you are, you are going to want to make sure that you take a photo at the right time, whether it be day time, night time or right as some amazing natural phenomenon is about to happen. This is all dependent on the area that you are in and what you are trying to capture. Timing is truly everything. Lighting is also something that is very important. If the light hits whatever you’re trying to take a picture of just right, especially with water, it can really enhance the look of the photograph. Dramatic lighting can be just the thing that a photo needs in order to fully stand out.

An important thing to think about is the foreground of the photo. Since photos are two dimensional and we live in a three dimensional world, it is important to find a way to convey a sense of depth in your photo. This can be done by really taking heed of what is in the foreground. You are going to want something that makes the photo look more three dimensional by playing in the sunlight. Additionally, shooting with a wide lens can really help to create that 3D appearance.

Even if the foreground has some influence on the picture, the background is by far one of the most important elements. The reason that the background is important is because it can enhance or detract from the object in which you are trying to focus on.

It is important to know what you want the focal point of the photo to be and then find a way to properly posture the background so that the focal point of the photo isn’t overwhelmed by the background. Also be sure what color you are trying to point out, because if the subject that you are photographing is bright, you might want to have a darker backdrop to highlight the brightness of your focal object. Conversely, if the subject is dark, you are going to want to focus more on sunlight to play off the darkness.

A good habit to get into while taking pictures outdoors is to think of the photograph as being divided into three sections.  This is a mental shift that should take place while you are setting up the photograph – you can place the main focal point to the right or left of the center to make it look more dynamic.

This seems fairly complicated, but it truly is not – just look at what you want to photograph and then simply make three sections in your mind. Now you have an idea of what you want to focus on, and where you want to place the person or object in the photo.

Silhouettes of fishermen during a sunset in Payallar, Alanya. Photo credit
Silhouettes of fishermen during a sunset in Payallar, Alanya. Photo credit

Many people who go to see truly spectacular natural wonders usually want to convey the sheer size of the place that they are visiting, but do not know how to adequately do so. To do this, placing a person in the photo as a reference can show how vast said natural wonder is. This can be extremely effective, because the person looking at the photo is going to be aware of the size of the person in the photo.

While it may be enticing to make the person look as small as possible so that the natural wonder looks even more amazingly large, this will only make the picture look fake. It is important that the person photographed within the shot is big enough that they are properly visible.

A big part of traveling to beautiful spots across the world is taking photos of those sites and showing them to your friends and family when you get back home.  With the help of these tips, you should be able to get some of the best photos that will be able to give those who could not make a trip a great idea of just how truly amazing these natural wonders are.

Please send us some examples of your pictures – we would love to share them. You can send them via our Facebook inbox.

Hope this guide has been of help!


fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival