Nature photography is a fairly loose term, which embraces a number of different approaches to the process of photographing subjects from the natural world.
Probably foremost among these is the Natural History approach, the aim of which is to convey information to the viewer. It can illustrate merely what a certain subject from the natural world looks like, or it can go further and illustrate some aspect of the subject’s behaviour or of its life-cycle. It can go even further by being enhanced by an overlay of ‘pictorialism’ or strong aesthetic appeal, usually achieved by the vision and creative skill of the photographer, so that it can be appreciated by the lay person, as well as by the naturalist. In this case, the overlay of pictorialism should not be so pronounced as to negate the informative content of the photograph.
Aspiring applicants for the Nature distinctions should note that informative Natural History photography is what is required.
Some people who have little or no interest in nature subjects for their own sake may well derive more pleasure from the Pictorial approach to nature photography. In this genre the aesthetic appeal is paramount and the informative content next to nil, especially if the photographer has used his or her “seeing eye” to create an abstract or semi- abstract photograph.
Yet another genre could be called the Creative approach, in which the photographer uses whatever creative means he or she has at his disposal to produce a nature-based image that is uniquely different from anyone else’s. In this digital age, Adobe Photoshop or some similar image-manipulating software will usually be the means of doing this.
It is up to the individual photographer to decide upon which of these approaches to adopt, but perhaps the best idea is not to reject any of them. By being versatile, a photographer can derive the maximum amount of pleasure from Nature photography.
Tony Wharton FRPS and Chairman of the RPS Nature Panel
The comments section is for you to leave suggestions, ideas and even a description of projects you have done that might interest others.
Unfortunately we are unable to answer queries but you might like to visit our workshops page or go onto the RPS forum.