What Is the Definition of Nature Photography?

By Sabrina Ehlert ; Updated September 15, 2017
Nature photography focuses on plants, wildlife and landscapes.

Nature photography focuses on landscapes, wildlife and plant life as they are found in their natural environment. Photographs of nature provides glimpses of animals, forests or mountains that may not be seen in person. Many nature photographers try to educate people about the beauty of nature, often with the hope that more people will be inspired to help the environment.

Ethics

The goal of a nature photographer is to photograph his subject with the least amount of disruption to the subject’s environment. The photographer should not cause destruction, harming the flora or fauna, in his attempt to photograph his subject. It also is not advised to try and interact with wild animals or attempt to manipulate a subject to obtain the desired shot. The end result should be an accurate presentation of the animal’s or plant’s natural state.

Equipment

Good equipment is essential to a photographer.

Nature photographers require a camera that gives them total control over camera settings. The photographer cannot rely on the camera’s internal light meter and needs to be able to manipulate the shutter speed and aperture manually. A wide-angle zoom lens and a telephoto zoom lens are two lenses most nature photographers use. It’s generally recommended to purchase lenses made by the camera manufacturer rather than buy cheaper third party lenses. Tripods are necessary to obtain the sharpest quality image in any lighting situation.

Types of Nature Photography

Nature photography encompasses all forms of photography where the main subject has something to do with nature. Some of the more common types of nature photography include photographing wild animals, plants and flowers, in their natural environment as well as landscapes. Other types of nature photography include celestial bodies such as the sun, moon, and stars; insects and arachnids; and underwater creatures.

Nature Photography and Conservation

Nature photography and conservation often go hand in hand. Many conservationists started photographing landscapes and wildlife in an effort to help gain support for their cause. Nature photographers can see the impact their photographs could have, inspiring people to want to help the environment. Photographing wildlife living in their natural habitat has been a way to bring a little bit of nature to people's living rooms and teach people more about the other inhabitants of our planet.

Nature Photography and Art

Photographing landscapes, plant and wildlife is not just about promoting conservation, nature photography is also an art form. Ansel Adams is, perhaps, one of the most well-known nature photographers. His photographs of the Yosemite Valley not only showcased the splendor of national parks they are examples of some of the best photographic techniques. What a painter does with paint, Adams did with light, shading and focus, creating panoramic views that took people’s breath away. Art is created with the intention to bring forth an emotional response. In terms of nature photography, it is hard not to see photographs of birds in mid flight, a mother bear and her cub, or a moose grazing in a field with out having some kind of emotional connection to what you are seeing.

About the Author

Sabrina Ehlert has been a writer and blogger for more than five years. She has been published in Longmont's Daily Times-Call on a number of occasions.