Why Your Nature Photographs Are Boring – And How You Can Fix It
Ahh, the outdoors. A photographer's paradise. There are deep blues, dark greens, gorgeous scenery, stunning wildlife, everything and anything a photographer can dream of; it's all out there, just waiting to be captured…
So why does it look so dull?
Why is it, for instance, that your hastily taken selfie in a restroom mirror garnered more likes on Facebook than your incredible sunrise shot at dawn?
Or why is it that whenever you create a beautiful Facebook photo book about nature, you yawn while looking through it?
Well, there are many reasons for this. Some are pretty simple; some are more complicated. But if you want to up your game and improve your photography skills, you will need to be aware of all of them to move forward.
With this in mind, we've listed several reasons why your nature photographs might be boring and what you have to do to fix it:
Problem: You Do Not Have A Subject
Starting with the most common problem, subjects. If you do not have a subject in your frame, there's nothing to draw the eye, which means there's nothing to latch onto. This makes for a pretty dull picture, especially if you've gone to a photo book maker to print a whole photo book of them!
Solution: Find A Subject!
Solution? Easy. Do something about it! It's easy to find subjects for your photographs. They don't even have to be humans. They can be anything; animals, plant life, fences, telephone poles, you name it! Find something to ground the photograph, give it context, and then frame it perfectly to draw the eye.
Problem: Your Lighting Is Way Off
The other frequent issue with nature photography is the lighting. That's not exactly the photographer's fault, but the different science behind outdoor photographs compared to indoor ones. It's far easier, for instance, to light a scene in your living room than in a 50-acre field.
Solution: Utilise Peak Times
In terms of the solution, it's pretty simple. To efficiently light your nature photographs, you need to know how to master the magic hours – which means you will get up pretty early and pretty late! It will be worth it, however, as well-lit photographs can catch the eye and keep the viewer's attention.
Problem: Your Photographs Look Amateur
Another reason your nature photographs might be boring is that they look amateur. It might seem harsh, but in 2023, people are used to watching stunning wildlife documentaries narrated by David Attenborough, so you have a lot to live up to.
Solution: Introduce Separation
However, a good step in the right direction is to separate your subjects from their backgrounds using a wide aperture. If you have the right equipment, this will ensure that the focus remains on the foreground rather than the back, which is another way to effectively draw in the eye and create a more stark, focused, professional image.
Problem: You Don't Have The Right Lenses
Of course, we mentioned equipment in that last point, but you might not actually have it. Not every photographer carries around a brilliant DSLR camera, for instance, so you have to work with what you've got. Sadly, what you've got might not be good enough to make your photography stand out.
Solution: Experiment With Filters
It can be good enough, however, provided you're happy to experiment. For some reason, "filter" appears to have become a dirty word in the photography-verse, but there's nothing wrong with trying different things out and finding a new spin on a classic picture. If you're taking some bird photography, for example, see what the feathers look like with a black and white filter. You might end up surprising yourself and finding a picture which is far better than your original.
Problem: There's No Story
Lastly, it's important to remember why you became a photographer in the first place. Most likely, it was to soak up the stories around you and capture them on film. Once again, this is where people need help with nature photography. The world around them is so beautiful that they forget about the most important aspect; the story. But as human beings, we latch onto stories, so a photograph without one can feel dry and mundane.