Tips to Improve Your Forest Photography
Capturing pictures of forests with a camera is a unique challenge.
I live in the core of the Boreal Forest in the interior. These woods offer a landscape of spindly spruce trees, quaking aspens, and birches. Endless opportunities for forest photography abound.
I spend a great deal of time wandering the woods, camera in hand, searching for the composition that captures the quiet beauty of the place.
Take Low-Angle Shots Looking up at the Treetops
When you take a shot of the trees from a low angle, it places the viewer into the forest. They will feel like they are looking up at the immense trees.
It emphasizes of these mighty plants, making the viewer feel humbled and small against their size.
Use Aerial Photography to Capture the Vastness of the Forest
With modern advances, you can now take impressive aerial photography with a drone. This technique is amazing for photographing forests. From above, the trees seems even vaster and never-ending.
It is best to take aerial photography on a clear day, to get a full view of the tree-tops. In weather, you can also create some great moody shots.
Use the Moonlight for Unique Forest Photography
Forests are dark places, especially at night and during the blue hour. At those times, pale starlight and the dim glow of the sky to reach the ground.
In an open woodland, there is more potential. Moonlit forest photography is a chance to make unique images. The moon, when full, casts a surprising amount of light onto the landscape. It also provides a potential subject in itself.
Shooting dark woods is much like other night photography. The foregrounds of trees require extra attention. Consider how the limbs and trunks fall across the sky. Compose so that they complement, rather than obstruct the background.
Capture the Stars and Night Sky Through the Trees
If you look upwards, the trees frame the night sky. You can take beautiful shots of the night sky surrounded by nature.
Where I live in Alaska, I often have the chance to photograph the northern lights through the trees. This can be a major challenge. As the lights move across the sky, I’m constantly shifting position to assure that they are visible through the trees.
Capture the Silhouette of the Forest for Striking Images
The dim light before dawn or after dusk is a very hard time to shoot in the woods. Trees, already dark, become black silhouettes. Within the forest things are even dimmer, rendering even basic image-making difficult.
The only hope for a successful shot during these hours is to find a tree silhouette against a backdrop of sky.
Use the Best Gear and Settings for Night Forest Photography
A tripod-mounted camera is an absolute must for shooting in the woods in low light. The long exposure times make hand holding an impossibility. A fast wide lens, like an f/2.8 or faster, will also be useful in the dark conditions.
Embrace long exposures and higher ISOs for night forest pictures. When the moon is not your subject and the night is dark, consider something like f/2.8, for 3 or 4 seconds at ISO 1600 as a starting point. From there, adjust your shutter speed or ISO up and down (but leave your aperture wide open) until you find the exposure you want.
Make the Most of Golden Hour
The low-angle light of the golden hour is often muted on the forest floor. The trees block most of the incoming sunlight, leaving behind beams to track across the ground, and through the branches.
That warm light will create a juxtaposition of the cool, shaded tones, and the yellow sunlight. This can be a beautiful time of day. If you are fortunate to find a bit of fog rolling through the trees, these hours are matchless.