5 tips for photographing nature

Picture of Michelle Valberg

Michelle Valberg – Photographer, Founding member of Women for Nature, Nikon Ambassador, Nature Photo Contest Judge

Michelle Valberg is an award winning professional photographer, a Nikon Ambassador, and one of our founding members of the Women for Nature initiative. She is also an important part of our Nature Photo Contest judging panel. 

The Nature Photo Contest is a celebration of the plants and animals, landscapes, and nature moments that bring us joy and happiness. What a great way to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary year – get outdoors and to connect with nature across the summer months. Explore some of Canada 150 celebrations and national parks; capture great Canadian landscape from coast to coast; discover flora and fauna of all sizes; document nature memories with friends and family this summer and submit your best nature photos for a chance to win prizes. 

If you love spending time outside in nature, chances are you’ve taken a few pictures in order to capture the memories. Michelle Valberg has offered us her top 5 tips for photographing nature along with some of her photographs to help illustrate her points for Nature Photography Day! Perhaps they could help take your photos to the next level.


1. Photograph with the best light in mind

If possible, it is ideal to go out in the early morning or late day to photograph. Angles of light are lower and can create more texture and interest in your image.  Shadows and contrast are increased and typically you get more wildlife activity in the early or late day since it is feeding time. Play with front, back and side lighting to see how you can photograph your landscape scene or wildlife in different ways. Most important – watch and change your camera settings to get better results.

Michelle Valberg's photo

 

2. Composition

Pay close attention to your background and positioning of your subject when photographing wildlife. Perhaps experiment with different foregrounds or backgrounds to create interest. Put your subject off centre (opposed to the centre) using the rule of thirds which will allow the viewer to wander through the image. Change your vantage point often. Composition can make or break your image and it is critical to creating and capturing that first class photograph.

Michelle Valberg's photo

 

3. Change Perspective

Especially for wildlife, photograph your subject/subjects with a wide lens to showcase them in their environment and alternatively with a telephoto to get up close. Eye to eye contact with animals in your image grabs attention. Look for ways you can capture motion – whether it is a bird in flight or a waterfall. Remember your tripod and change your shutter speeds to achieve different effects.

Michelle Valberg's photo

Michelle Valberg's photo

 

4. Anticipate Behaviour

Watching animal behaviour and anticipating their next move can help you get better results. Pay close attention to what your subject might do next, where it might go and how you can best capture it. An animal can change the tilt of its head ever so slightly and it can go from achieving a good image to a fantastic one. Watch a bird’s wing position or how an animal walks or swims. Remember to always keep a watchful eye on your subject.

Michelle Valberg's photo

 

5. Shoot, shoot, shoot!

Don’t stop shooting until you have your ultimate image. Always carry a lot of memory cards so you don’t have to worry about how many images you can take. The beauty of nature is all around us and you don’t have to travel long distances to photograph it. Photograph in your backyard, a park or on a trail. Pay close attention to your ISO, shutter and aperture, and always experiment, practice and continue to learn. Try to be unique and creative with your approach so your images stand out and command your viewer’s attention.

Michelle Valberg's photo


There you go, Michelle Valberg’s top 5 helpful tips for amateur nature photographers. Want to try them out? Good news! We’re hosting a Nature Photo Contest this summer. This is your chance to test out these pointers and get out into nature. The Nature Photo Contest is a celebration of the plants and animals, landscapes, and nature moments that bring us joy and happiness. Our hope is to encourage more Canadians to get outdoors and to connect with nature across the summer months. This summer is particularly special as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

So go explore this great country and submit your nature photos for a chance win one of our amazing prizes! Our top prize is an incredible Canadian nature adventure from Wild Women Expeditions valued at $1000! Wild Women Expeditions offers a wide variety of outdoor adventures, including canoe and kayak trips, multi-sport adventures, hiking trips and yoga retreats! Choose from one of their many Canadian adventures!

Happy Nature Photography Day!

Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Subscribe to Nature Canada’s online community!