- If outdoor, or nature, photography is your passion, then take an hour during the holiday break at the end of the year and create a wish list of the places you’d like to visit and photograph during the next year. You may want to divide your list into three parts: local, regional and national/international. Presumably, you’re able to visit local natural settings at any time during the year: after work, weekends or holidays. Regional locations may require an all-day or overnight trip, so most of these will be reserved for the weekend. National or international locations are probably a once-a-year trip during your vacation from work, or possibly a long weekend.
- Be as specific as possible about the subject matter you want to shoot. Instead, of listing ABC State Park, describe the specific location within the park that is your target and the kind of photo you want to capture: “Big Creek Falls at dusk.” “The full moon’s reflection in Serenity Pond.” “Mission Mountains in clear, sharp, early-morning light with no clouds.” This may be easier for local or regional natural settings than those thousands of miles from your home; but that is why research is so important.
- Once you’ve completed your list, you can start that research. Learn the weather patterns for the places you want to photograph: what part of the year is rainy, dry and sunny; when it’s rainy is it always dark and overcast, even between the rainy periods, or does the rain move through and it becomes sunny again; when will there be complete snow coverage; etc. Look for information that helps you to match the subject matter and the kind of photograph you want to shoot with the best days or periods of the best weather. Keep in mind, some photos will be better with a slight overcast, foggy dawn, no moon, full moon, etc.
- One of the major challenges of your preparation is that the exact weather forecast for a location is only accurate approximately 10 days to two weeks in advance. To save money, you must book your plane ticket and accommodations much further in advance. You could arrive during when your research has told you is the dry season, only to discover that the forecast is for that rare week of rain that happens occasionally. Even if you can afford to pay extra to book that close to your departure date, the seats and hotel rooms may not be available. Again, preparation in the form of research is the key.
- After you learn about your destination’s general weather seasons, then start to check the records from the previous years for the same dates you’ll be visiting. You should be able, as best as possible, pinpoint the most likely time period that gives you the weather you want for your photo shoot, and still book your flight and hotel well in advance. It’s just a trade-off that you must be willing to accept, knowing that all your planning could explode in your face.
- If that should happen, then part of your preparation should also include optional photography opportunities. Broaden your research to find indoor venues that you could photograph if you can’t shoot outdoors. If the light isn’t right for waterfall pictures, then know in advance what natural subject matter would look good in that light.
- Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams
- Landscape Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots
- Creative Landscapes: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques
- The Digital SLR Expert Landscapes
- The Landscape Photography Workshop
Digital photography technology can do much to help you capture pleasant sunsets, spectacular waterfalls and majestic mountains. What it can’t do is schedule the best times of the year or day to shoot all these wonderful nature images…that’s your job. Without careful preparation, you may travel to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in your country, in the world, only to discover that there is no water, which is perfectly natural for that time of the year. You wouldn’t have hiked through that swampy marsh for four hours if you knew the rare bird you wanted to photograph isn’t there during April, only September.
With careful planning of your outdoor digital photography shoot, you’re more likely to record the images you’ve imagined in your mind, spend less time and money doing so, carry only the photography equipment you need and, most importantly, enjoy and learn from the experience.