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Whether you’re going travelling with your camera, or simply looking to diversify your portfolio by exploring further afield at home, knowing how to take photographs in different types of environment is crucial.
A one-size-fits-all approach will severely compromise your ability to take the best shots, but simply knowing a few basic tips can give your results a serious boost. Brushing up on location-specific advice before heading out is therefore well worthwhile.
When heading to the coast with your camera, make sure to take along a lens cloth so that you can prevent any sand or sea salt compromising the quality of your shots. A bag will give protection to your equipment when it’s not in use.
Many people who take photographs at the beach fall into the trap of standing and snapping the horizon. While this is certainly beautiful to the eye, it doesn’t always translate well as a still image – adding foreground interest is crucial.
Add some depth to your shot by making sure you frame something towards the front. A boat or pier work well, but something as simple as a pile of driftwood can make all the difference. Landscape photographer Adam Burton recommends looking out for wooden groynes too.
Keep the horizon straight, but make sure you don’t always place it directly across the centre of your viewfinder. Include more of the sky if there is a beautiful pattern of clouds or unusual colours, or move the shot downwards if the beach is more interesting.
The increasing sophistication of cameras and accessories means that underwater photography is becoming achievable for a wider range of hobbyists. This environment can be extremely tricky to work with, but it also provides some of the most spectacular results.
A DSLR camera in waterproof housing is an essential in this environment, but another piece of recommended equipment is a specially-designed strobe light, as the water limits the amount of natural light. For this reason, you should always shoot toward the surface.
Beginners can experiment by shooting in a swimming pool or by snorkelling close to the surface of a natural body of water, but the most impressive photos usually come from those who are comfortable scuba diving in the areas with the most diverse range of marine life.
Experienced hobbyists and professionals will head out on sunny days when the water is calm – waves disturb the sand bed, meaning that more debris is suspended in the water. You can find more underwater photography tips on the National Geographic website.
You might think that the desert doesn’t offer many subjects for photographing, but because these environments can feel so alien, they can help you create some interesting shots. Focus on the aspects of the setting that are unusual for the most eye-catching images.
One of the first things that will strike you when you photograph in the desert is the vast expanse of uninterrupted sky. Harness the potential of this to create a negative space that will emphasise your subject – this could be a silhouette in the distance or a simple plant in the foreground.
You should also take advantage of the fantastic night sky while in the desert. Because light pollution is limited, you are offered a spectacular view of the stars. Set up a tripod and a very slow shutter speed to capture incredible star trails – you’d struggle to get this kind of image elsewhere.