Pictorial/Creative Nature Photography
1. The world is your oyster, so long as your subjects are taken from the natural world! You can be as imaginative as you like, without feeling constrained by any of the natural history “rules”. Your images don’t need to be informative or descriptive and certainly shouldn’t be fettered by being given factual titles, which could confuse the viewer about your intentions. Rather go for “arty”, but not too corny, titles which should make the viewer fully aware of the approach you are adopting.
2. Perhaps the most obvious approach to this type of nature photography is to create abstract or semi-abstract images by over- emphasising colour, shape or pattern - possibly even distorting any or all of these. The finished image then becomes artistic, rather than realistic.
3. Reflections can be a source of artistic or abstract images, especially if the reflective surface - usually water - is rippled by the wind. You shouldn’t restrict yourself only to reflections in water however; there are natural reflections everywhere.
4. It may help if you deliberately try to eliminate visual indications of the real nature of your subject. This can be done by various means - in camera or by digital manipulation. You could use minimal depth of field, employ various filters or ultra wide-angle lenses at the taking stage, or you could experiment in a whole host of different ways in Photoshop or some similar application. You are limited only by your own imagination!
5. Look for patterns in nature. These can be photographed in an informative way, if they have real natural history significance, or, with a little imagination, they can lend themselves to abstract or semi-abstract treatment. Plant structures are a good source of inspiration for this type of work.
6. Deliberate blur can be very effective in a pictorial or creative context. Ways of achieving it are many and various, but using slow shutter speeds is just one fairly obvious method out of many available to you.
7. Combining two or more natural subjects in one image is much easier in programmes such as Photoshop than it ever was in the darkroom. If you adopt such an approach, try to use visually compatible component images, rather than treating the procedure as a technical exercise. It’s the aesthetic appeal of the final image that counts, not how it was achieved.
8. Look for signs of decay in nature, such as leaf skeletons and the like. These can often form the basis of informative natural history images, but, equally, they can lend themselves to impressionistic photography.
9. Unusual colour designs or combinations in nature can provide appealing subject matter, especially at close range. Such subjects might be found in rock formations, tree bark or the leaves of plants - even butterfly wings at ultra close range.
10. Try to remember that, in this approach to nature photography, you are usually trying to create an emotive or aesthetic impression on the viewer, rather than convey imformation. If you fail to do so, you should at least have derived some fun from the attempt!
Tony Wharton FRPS and Chairman of the RPS Nature Panel
Images: Rain Drops, Water Lily Swirl, Impala Impression, Stability, Wooden Ripples - Tony Wharton FRPS and Chairman of the RPS Nature Panel
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