Tips for Great Nature Photographs -- By John Warton at Photography Laureates

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Tips for making great nature photographs from a leading expert helping manage one of the largest amateur photo community site with over 42,000 active members (

John Warton actively works at reviewing and evaluating photography submissions for a photography association called photo laureates ( Building on his experience reviewing thousands of entries by amateur photographers from all over the world, John provides here a personal improvement list to shoot great nature photographs. Indeed, these represent more than 60% of submitted entries on photography laureates!

According to Mr. Warton, when shooting outside for nature shots, technical excellence is even more important than in other photography segments to achieve outstanding results. John advises to keep in check the following elements in order to optimize the visual appeal of your nature photographs:

1. Learn to control your depth of field

Quoting John: “Amateur photographers need to control their depth of field very well. It is defined as the zone of apparent sharpness, in front of the subject and behind it. In scenic photography, I advise my fellow amateur photographers to use an expansive depth of field”.

Mr. Warton continues: “A well known tip used to maximize depth of field when photographers must shoot quickly is to set focus for a point about one-third of the way up from the bottom of the frame. Because depth of field extends two-thirds behind the focused point and one-third in front of it, this technique works fairly well. However, it is not as accurate as hyper focal focusing, so I advise to only use it when the results are not critically important.”

2. Take advantage of the light

Lighting in nature photography, natural or artificial is of critical importance as it can completely change the mood of the scene. Low-contrast lighting offers two major advantages: an absence of hard shadows or extreme highlights as well as better color saturation.

Quoting John: “I always advise to use natural lighting in nature shots. The soft light of a cloudy but bright day is especially suitable for flowers, gardens, and hillsides. This type of light produces soft, muted tones that are not washed out by bright sun. Diffused lighting improves the saturation of colors”.

Mr. Warton continues: “Also keep in mind that side lighting is far more effective for most subjects as it produces shadows that enhance form, shape, and texture, hence creating a three-dimensional feel”

Photographers often need to modify the light to shoot nature close-ups on a sunny day. There, diffusers are very helpful (you may use a large sheet of milky white plastic or a commercially made diffuser panel from Photo Flex).

3. Learn to use filters to enhance the scene

As an example, a color-enhancing filter helps to increase the richness of red desert stones while a polarizing filter helps to cut glare from reflective surfaces, such as glass.

Quoting John: “In nature photography, filters are most useful for enhancing, not dramatically altering, existing colors. Use filters to intensify the effect”.

4. Use your lenses to their full potential

Quoting Mr. Warton: “Longer lenses are best for landscapes. I advise my fellow amateur photographers to make a series of photographs with longer lenses whenever they find a scene of interest”.

John continues: “Different elements make the scene. This is where zooms come in invaluable: coupled with the wider spectrum that the longer lenses provide, zooms enable to focus and dissect the individual segments that give the scene its special charm. In other words, it is always advisable to use the different elements to make a detailed photographic study”.

5. Amateur photographers need to explore all their focusing options and tightly control the background

By utilizing the full range of available focusing options, amateur photographers can achieve interesting effects.

Quoting John: “The background needs to be tightly controlled as an overly cluttered background is simply the best way to completely spoil what would have otherwise been a great nature shot! At, I advise my fellow amateur photographers to eliminate unrelated photography elements whenever possible. I would venture out to say that background control is probably the most important element in nature photography.”

John also advises to apply the following techniques and principles:

  • As a general rule, avoid cluttered backgrounds. They are very distracting in nature photography. As a tip, a simple sheet of dark green Bristol board may be used as a background to further highlight your subject.
  • Use a narrower view and move closer to your subject in order to eliminate unrelated elements
  • When shooting vertical subjects, hold your camera vertically
  • Never hesitate to move the subject to a better position (unless shooting an elephant!). You may also walk around and explore different angles.
  • Experiment and learn to take photographs from a very high or low position in order to make your subject stand out

John Warton is a senior photography editor. He has decades of experience in photography first as a freelancer, reporter and then as publisher. He is a member of various international photography associations (Association of International Art dealers, Photographic resource center…)

Photography Laureates offers the following:

  • A unique platform of self expression to the amateur and professional photographer
  • An opportunity to be published as part of a leading photography manuscript
  • 24/7 customer care assistance to help associate photographers gain exposure
  • Review and pieces of advise from the editors on submitted entries
  • A leading membership community where members can exchange and learn

About Photography Laureates (

The mission of Photo laureates is to provide a platform of artistic expression for amateur and professional photographers to gain exposure and recognition. Photo Laureates promotes photography and photographers through technical workshops as well as improvisation sessions.

An independent panel of experts at photo laureates reviews photographs based on the following criteria: technical quality, composition, flow, texture and light.

The manuscripts from photography laureates are distributed internationally. Photographers always retain full copyrights to their photographs. Photo laureates has more than 45,000 members and a 98% satisfaction rate.

For more information on Photography Laureates, please visit:


Sol Mina – Customer Care Manager

Photography Laureates

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