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10 Outdoor Photography Ideas to Get You Inspired

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photographer takng photos of nature

Have you recently seen epic nature photos that got you thinking: “I want to take photos like that!” or are you looking to explore new outdoor photography niches? Well, you’re in luck! We’ve put together 10 ideas to get those creative juices flowing so you can take pictures you and others will adore. Whether you live in an exotic location or a small town, there won’t be any shortage of new photo opportunities awaiting you! 

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10 Outdoor Photography Ideas

1. Size and Scale


For all those savvy landscape photographers, introducing the size of your location relative to people or a man-made structure will surely inspire your audience, as it shows just how dramatic the place can be. A great way to do this is with a wide-angle lens, as humans will be perceived as much smaller in these pictures. Also, you’ll want your subject to be distant from your camera to exaggerate the effect. However, don’t put them too far. Your viewers might have a hard time seeing them! 

2. Weather and Climate


Clouds, storms, and clear skies all can add or subtract from the elements of a photo. In a way, this is primarily luck-based, but patience will always give you the best chances of getting a nice shot. Spend as much time out as you can, and look up to see if there is any interesting weather. Some locations might have a lot of rain, and some may be forever sunny. Take advantage of the weather and use it to enhance your image!

3. Macro Bio-Life


There are a plethora of tiny forms of life out there, and macro photography has to be one of the most underappreciated kinds of outdoor photography. The colors, shapes, and different styles of small organisms are extraordinary, with so much to explore. There really is a whole world of things you can take photos of, and many people start with leaves or flowers. You could also focus on insects, fungi, and algae. 

4. Animals and Wildlife


Another huge platform for experimentation in outdoor photography is wildlife. Some of the best shots can be captured with a telephoto or super-telephoto lens, but even our smartphones can reach animals from afar with digital zooming. One piece of advice here is to have patience and put yourself in the shoes of a hunter. In many cases, you’ll have to wait for the right moment or track animals to see what you can find. Birding is an entire sub-niche of this genre but takes even more perseverance. Still, it’s one of the most exciting and rewarding things you can try. Best of all, this can all be done right in your backyard.

5. Stars and Nightscapes


Golden hour isn’t the only opportunity you’ll have for great photos despite what most people think. During the night, you can use a fast aperture and set your shutter speed to 10 or even 30 seconds to capture more light. That includes our distant galaxies and neighboring stars, and it doesn’t stop there. Our moon is a great focal point to shoot; its circular shape can imitate a ball, eye, or anything spherical. You can also use Earth’s terrain to balance the photo if you want it to blend in with the environment. 

6. Sun Flares


Some see sun flares as bad because they obstruct what’s happening in the image. However, many people don’t understand that this is a perfect way to experiment with light and can lead to some beautiful results. Especially in the outdoors, flares can add a natural look to make your picture seem more realistic. A good way to get sun flares is to remove any lens hood from your lens and refrain from using polarizing filters. Try different angles to shape the flares to your own style as well.

7. Look for Reflections


Reflections can be useful because of the mirroring effect, whether you’ve found a still lake, a puddle, or a glass surface. This enables you to make a flipped image: an exciting way to express wherever you are. The water must be relatively still, and you’ll want to avoid circular polarizers since they remove reflections from shiny surfaces. If you cannot find any reflective materials or bodies of still water, you can take out your phone and use the screen as a handy backup!

8. Keep it Minimal


Sometimes when you’re out in the field looking for a good composition, it’s never a bad idea to keep things simple. Photos can be chaotic with a lot going on, or they can be pretty straightforward. Less is more in some cases, and you can do this well by looking for areas that don’t have many distractions in the photo. A singular cloud is a complement to clear skies, which creates an undoubtedly minimalistic look. 

9. Long Exposure Water


Out of all the outdoor photography we see from professionals, waterfalls and ocean waves in motion seem to be a popular way to take advantage of long exposures. One caveat here is that you’ll need a neutral-density filter (ND filter) to compensate for the slow shutter speeds. The ND filters come in various extremities, such as ND 16, ND 32, and even ND 64. The higher the number, the longer you’ll be able to keep your shutter open while maintaining proper exposure. Tripods are a necessity to keep the shots as still as possible. Also, you might want a rain cover as you’ll be sure to get soaking wet!

10. Natural Shapes and Lines


Every experienced photographer probably knows the “leading lines” theory and the golden ratio. These don’t have to be a strict regime in your exposures, but looking for this can be attention-grabbing to the viewer. Shooting roads, rivers, telephone poles, and tree branches are great ways to utilize lines. If you have a subject somewhere in the distance, you might be able to use the curves or straight lines to lead up to it. Shapes are not to be underestimated either, as you can find some fascinating angles of rocks, clouds, or land formations that are a pleasure to view.

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Outdoor photography is one of the broadest forms of photography, but it could also be the most rewarding and enjoyable way to get memories of your travels. Even if you are close to home, experimenting with outdoor photography techniques is an excellent path to learn something new and potentially delve deep into an unknown niche. We recommend trying the 10 outdoor photography ideas if you want to get yourself out of a creative slump! 

Featured Image Credit: Jirasak JP, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.