How many times have you complained about the lack of inspiration? How many of you don’t have nice places to photograph around you? How many have you blamed your environment for keeping you away from the muses? It’s time to stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself and look for solutions.
To take beautiful pictures you do not need to travel to India or be on the seashore to capture a sunset. You need to feel like shooting, do you? If so, I will give you a reason that you are sure to have close by and some tips for photographing it. It’s about the tree.
Advantages of photographing a tree
Why a tree? Well, because there is always one nearby, it doesn’t move, you can photograph it in its entirety, isolated, accompanied, by details, with or without leaves… they offer different colors, you can work on focus and depth of field. It is a perfect element to practice photography and achieve attractive and even spectacular images. It all depends on you, your desire and these tricks 😉
A good option is to photograph your silhouette against the light. In this way you practice backlighting and achieve the most attractive images. Well from its branches, its crown, the trunk or the little animals that nest in it. The best moments for this capture are sunrise and sunset, if you want to know more about how to achieve a silhouette, here it is explained step by step.
2. In the different seasons
This is a great idea, although keep in mind that it is long-term, since you will need practically a year to carry out this small project and see the results. If you are wondering why it is worth embarking on something like this, I will tell you that it is a good way to understand light and how it affects the landscape, in addition to observing how the same motif can offer images that are so different from one another.
For this you will have to find a tree with an attractive environment, or at least find an interesting frame and composition. Write down the coordinates and the focal length used, because you will need it more times. The beautiful thing is that it is exactly the same photo in the different seasons of the year.
3. Night and stars
If you are a night owl or the night attracts you to photograph, do not forget to immortalize a tree embraced by the stars and the darkness. You will be surprised by the results.
In this case, a tripod will be essential, in addition, it will be better to wait for a night without wind or clouds and in a place where there is not too much light pollution.
4. Black and white
In addition to the fact that we love black and white and we recommend it regularly, it turns out that a grayscale tree is very favored because, among other aspects, the textures of the trunk are highlighted and the lines of the branches are highlighted. Look at this example, isn’t it to fall in love at first sight?
Less is more, I say it and I repeat it for the umpteenth time 😉 Sometimes we complicate our lives too much with the elements within a frame when what usually impacts the most is a clean, orderly image with few reasons.
6. Nadir or the art of looking up
But not upwards as you look at a building, that is, a low angle, but from a nadir angle, perpendicular to the ground or as much as possible.
Changing the perspective can be the solution to background problems, framing, backlighting, etc., and not only that, changing the angle also implies achieving a greater impact on the viewer, attracting their attention, capturing their gaze and letting it rest on your image for a longer time or, what is the same, captivate him with your work. In this way you can photograph the heart of a tree as if the viewer were right at the top of the trunk, or a group of trees that hug each other in a circle. Any of these images can be very interesting.
7. Branches and other details
Another of the benefits of photographing a tree is that it offers different elements, the leaves, the branches, the roots, the bark of the trunk, and even moss or other vegetation that grows on it. Capture its details, observe it well, from above, below and from all sides. Surely your tree keeps a lot of secrets, tell us about them.
8. Find life
Trees have secrets and nest life. Birds, caterpillars, squirrels, lizards and a lot of little animals use the trees to rest, live, spend the night, court, feed… If macro is your thing, look for any sign of life and rescue it with your camera.
9. Portray its fruits
The proudest thing a tree can feel is its fruits, just like a father of a son, a tree gives the best of itself every season. Anticipate and find out when it bears fruit, when it is in full splendor and take advantage of the time of day that best suits you in terms of lighting. If you shoot early in the morning or late in the afternoon you can take advantage of a more diffused light and without very marked shadows.
10. In bloom
If there is something that a tree can be more proud of than its fruits, it is its flower. The tree is shown in all its splendor when it blooms, it is pure poetry. There are those who travel thousands of kilometers to photograph the Japanese cherry blossoms, for a reason… And hey… you don’t have to go that far if you can’t 😉 there are the cherry trees of the Jerte Valley, the flowering of the peach trees of Cieza or the almond trees from the south and east, not to mention the orange trees of Seville. I follow?
Use a wide opening and you will see how your flowers stand out.
11. Take care of the composition
No matter how beautiful a tree, or its leaves or branches, you should not neglect the composition. That does not mean that you follow the rules to the letter, in this image, for example, skipping them to place the tree in the center has worked. It is about creating an attractive and balanced composition.
12. With fog
A foggy tree becomes mysterious, intriguing, dark. One way to cause sensations through your tree is to take advantage of the mist to envelop it. Don’t let the bad weather stop you 😉 Here are Tips for Impressive Fog Photography. You can also use black and white to enhance this effect as in the following image.
It is not the same to photograph a tree at dawn, than at noon or at night. Each moment of the day offers a very different light and with very different results. If the light changes through the seasons, this effect is even greater throughout an entire day. Decide what and how you want to show it and choose the right time for it. If you are looking for a hard light to achieve a high contrast, better at noon. On the contrary, to achieve a soft and enveloping light, better take advantage of cloudy days, with rain or fog that diffuse the light or take advantage of sunrise and sunset for this purpose.
And speaking of light, I recommend that you try to include it as a co-star in your tree photographs. The result can be impressive.
14. The reflection
Is there a lake near the tree? A pond? Is the tree in the water? Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to capture your reflection.
15. Bonus tips…
To finish, I will give you some express tips that can help you:
- take care of the background, if you capture a detail, try to make the background as little distracting as possible, better that it be plain and of a color that makes a good contrast with the subject or that does not divert attention. if you want some tricksto change the background you can change the angle, close the frame or use cloth or cardboard.
- If you include the sky, I recommend that you take advantage when there is cloudsa sky that is too clear can be boring.
- Lenses: use a wide angle if you want to cover a large part of the scene, a tele for squirrel-like animals, a macro for smaller beings and a wide aperture lens when you want to blur the background a lot.
- If you are going to use slow rates of fire (for whatever reason), make sure there is no wind or else the leaves will be moved, unless that is exactly what you are looking for 😉
- Try including a tree (or several) in your next infrared photo.
- Try vertical panning.
Do you want inspiration? Take a look at this:
- Beth Moon
- Nick Nichols, who photographed a 100-foot redwood, here’s a video of how he did it:
Did you like the article? Are you already thinking about what kind of trees you have nearby? You no longer have an excuse to practice. With these tips and ideas you can’t beat laziness 😉
If you think you know someone who might be interested in the article, don’t hesitate to share it, we’ll both appreciate it 😉 Thank you and see you soon!