Photography tips for shooting in the forest

You probably all know by now that I have a deep love affair with the forest.  For me it’s a magical place to escape to; a place of fresh air, nature and calm.  And of course, there’s no better time to explore the forest than in the Autumn – the changing colours of the trees and all of the sights, sounds, and smells of my favourite season make it the perfect time to visit.

Forest Holidays challenged me to write three tips for enjoying the forest as part of their ‘30 days of Autumn‘ project, and as one of my favourite ways to enjoy the forest is to get out and about with my camera, I thought I’d share my tips for taking photographs in the forest (except I got a little excited and shared five tips instead of three!)  I’m no expert in photography but you don’t have to be to be able to capture the beauty of the woods – it’s all about having an eye for the things around you.  I like to treat it a little like a scavenger hunt – scouting out the hidden treasures of the forest – the shiny conkers, the bright red berries, and the little bugs and birds just waiting to be discovered.  So keep your eyes and ears open, and your camera in your hand – and we’ll begin.  I headed out with my Canon 1100D for a day in the New Forest to capture these – but you don’t need a digital SLR to take beautiful forest photos – any old compact camera, or even your phone camera, will do.

1. G o  m a c r o

Macro photography just means ‘close-up photography’.  Most cameras are capable of shooting macro photography – a lot of compact cameras also have a macro mode or setting (it looks like a picture of a flower).  This means that it will be able to focus on a much closer object than normal (i.e. something immediately in front of the lens) and will often use a smaller aperture, meaning that the area around the object falls out of focus or looks blurry.

Now for the fun part – macro photography can capture some amazing results, and only involves sticking your camera really close to what you want to shoot.  The forest is perfect for macro photography as there are so many beautiful plants, flowers, bugs, and other interesting finds.  You can get some really creative results just by playing around with focussing and pointing your lens in different places.

Close up

2. T r y  d i f f e r e n t  a n g l e s

I like to have fun with photography, and to try and come home with a photograph someone else might not have taken, or thought of (that’s why, as above, you’ll find me poking my lens into plants and zooming in on leaves and creepy-crawlies – no chocolate box pictures for me!)  One of the things I love to do is to try slightly different angles and viewpoints.  I often plonk my camera on the floor and shoot along the ground, especially when it’s carpeted with pine cones or crunchy leaves.

Down low

3. L o o k  f o r  i n t e r e s t i n g  t e x t u r e s

As part of my ‘photo scavenger hunt’ I’m always looking for different textures and colours.  Water bubbling down a stream, a curly, fluffy dog coat, a gnarled tree stump – these all make for interesting captures. Look for spiky horse chesnuts, silky feathers, dewy grass, wet bracken – or even a mix of textures (I love the contrast of the shiny conkers against Tom’s muddy hands in my last post).  Shoot interesting textures up close too, or from different angles.

BodhiGnarled tree

4. R u l e  o f  t h i r d s

One of the things my Dad taught me about photography when I was younger was about the ‘rule of thirds’.  The idea of the rule of thirds is to think about the compositon of a photo in order to make it more pleasing to the eye.  Essentially all you do, is divide the photo into thirds both horizontally and vertically.  When you’re taking a photograph, try and position the important elements of the photograph along those lines, where they meet.  (You can Google this for more examples if I haven’t explained that very well).


This isn’t a perfect example, but you can see how it makes it more aesthetically pleasing that the branch I’m sitting on and the line of the branches behind me split the photo horizontally into thirds. I am then positioned mostly in the final vertical third of the photograph.  When shooting landscapes, it’s useful to remember the rule of thirds to make the photo look more natural.  Try starting off by placing the horizon along one of the horizontal lines rather than immediately in the centre of the frame, and try and find other points of interest to add to the composition.  (Many cameras also have a ‘grid’ mode if you toggle the display modes, which can help with where to position things).

5. T r y  b l a c k  a n d  w h i t e

Even though the beautiful colours of the season clearly lend themselves to colour photography at this time of year, don’t be afraid to try out black and white photography.  Again, many cameras have this as a setting on the camera itself, or you can use photo editing software to change this afterwards. You can create some really moody, arty photographs just by switching from colour to black and white – and again, black and white is great for showing off different textures and surfaces.


I really hope you’ve enjoyed my photography tips and that they’ve encouraged you to head out into the nearest forest with your camera and get snapping away! Often I find that my favourite photos are the ones where I try out something different or walk off the beaten track to find a hidden treasure – the beauty of digital photography is that you can just delete the ones that don’t work out, so get snapping and experimenting, get muddy, and have fun!

Don’t forget to check out the other tips from Forest Holidays – you can also get 5% off a Forest Holiday by using the code VWAUTUMN if you book before 31 December 2014.

What are your favourite photography tips for snapping in the forest?

All photographs taken on my Canon 1100D with a 50mm f/1.8 lens.  Edited in Photoshop – mostly using VSCO Actions Pack.

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