How to Take Amazing Nature Photographs This Memorial Day!

Nature photography is a wide range of photography genres taken outdoors and devoted to displaying natural elements such as landscapes, wildlife, plants and close-ups of natural scenes and textures.  Nature photographs are widely published in scientific, travel and cultural magazines such as National Geographic Magazine, Audubon Magazine or Outdoor Photographer.  

Proudly, several of my nature photographs have been chosen as "Editor Favorites" on National Geographic's Yourshots. This mage above was one of their favorites.  If you love this image too, I have Limited Edition prints available in color and B&W.  Shipping is free.  Just click the image here to take you to the shopping cart.  

Below are my tried-and-true tips on how to go from taking generic nature photographs to taking AMAZING ones!

Study Before You Go:

Remember in school when studying always got you better grades? Nature photography works the same way. A few weeks before you go out to shoot, google research "nature photography" images.  Try to figure out how the image was taken, time of day it was captured, camera equipment used by the photographer, etc. Also, ask yourself what you like about the image?  What don't you like about it?   Maybe think about how you can try to copy it in your own creative way.  It's always great to study what others have done and see where you can add your own originality when you get to your location.  

Plan Ahead:

If you’re going on a trip to take nature pictures of birds or animals, do your research.   Know the habits of the animals, where you're going to find them, and how to behave around them. It's also important to know the times of day that animals feed.  If you don't research, you may find you arrive after they've gone into their dens to sleep. You can also read my previous tutorial "How to Take Great Zoo Photos" on Facebook for more tips and tricks. 

To the right, is a sample of some of my Wildlife Photography. Using a long lens, and manual focus, I was able to capture this intimate family portrait in mid-day. If you'd like to purchase this image, just click the image and it will take your to the shopping cart.   Prints start as low as $25 for a 5x7.

Use Manual Focus:

When taking nature photos, having the ability to manually change your focus is critical. DSLR cameras have that great options and more. The quality of your pictures will increase dramatically when you have the ability to change focus, as well as change lenses with a DSLR. Here's the various modes on a DSLR:

M – Manual mode

A or Av – Aperture Priority

S or Tv – Shutter Priority

P – Program mode

Use Your Smartphone Apps:

If you don't have a DSLR, here are several great Apps to download which will give your smartphone the ability to act more like a DSLR.  I'm not being paid to advertise these apps, they are just my personal favorites.

Iphone Users:




ProCam 7

Android Users: 

A Better Camera 

Adobe Lightroom 

Bacon Camera 

Camera MX

Use Fast Shutter Speeds:

Nature is always changing. Make sure you catch the photo opportunity you’re looking for by having a camera with a fast shutter speed. The faster the shutter speed the easier it will be for you to capture the moment, rather than miss it by a few seconds. The more creative you are with your pictures, the better they often come out.

Be Patient:

The best nature photographs are not the ones that you seek out, but the ones you stumble upon. Take a relaxing walk through the woods, or around a lake.  Go boating, have fun in the outdoors. Just happen to have your camera with you when that perfect photo becomes available.


A 10 year old can take a picture of a flower. Before you take the picture look around, and think about how you could make the photograph interesting. There are tons of things you can do that can dramatically enhance a nature photograph. Change the angle of your shot, change where your focus is. Maybe the flower isn't in the foreground it is in the background of your photo. Don't be afraid to take chances, the best photos are the ones that take what could have been an ordinary photo and make it extraordinary.

Use A Packing List:

  • Camera(s)
  • Lens(es)
  •  Tripod and head
  • Filters
  • Cable release
  • Large waterproof bag
  • Drone
  • Cleaning accessories
  • Rain cover
  • Food and drink
  • Spare batteries and memory cards
  • Plastic bags
  • Mobile /cell phone
  • Portable battery charger
  • Compass and map
  • Tape and tools
  • First Aid Kit
  • Waterproof outer shell jacket
  • Down jacket
  • Hiking pants
  • Low top waterproof boots

I've put together a wonderful collection of Hiking Clothing which is perfect for your daily adventures. I personally designed these items, so they are really fun, durable and affordable. Click any images below to see the entire Collection.

Improve Your Photograph Skills:

If you want to learn more about how to become a better photographer, I've written a Beginner's Book (for digital download).  I take you through the basics of the "exposure triangle" and simplify it for you. Many of the most basic photography terms can be off-putting for a beginner. This book covers those fundamentals in a quick, and easy manner. Click here or the image to purchase for only $49.

Stay In Touch:

I hope you enjoyed this free tutorial. Share the love and share this tutorial with friends and family. If you want to receive future tutorials or newsletters, simply click here: Happy Friday!

the author

Tracy Heschong-Mccrackin

Tracy Heschong-McCrackin is an award-winning writer and photographer, who has had her work recognized across the country. Several of her images have been Editor Favorites at NatGeoYourShot. 

She started her photography studio 20 years ago and specialized in portraits, landscapes and commercial photography. Tracy draws much of her inspiration from her travels. She has a passion for investigating off the beaten path locations, cultures and individuals. It is those moments of exploration that her creativity is ignited and much of her artwork is born. She is an Artist, Photographer, Designer and Blogger. Her Gallery can be found at: You can also follow her on social media by clicking any of the links below: