Amazing Ways You Can Make Photos Of Our Natural World

I was captivated by the vibrant colors and intricate design of this beautiful flower inside the Flower Dome at the incredible Gardens by the Bay complex in Singapore.

How Are Landscape And Nature Photos Different?

It's in our nature to seek clarity as a way of understanding the world around us. This often causes us to differentiate and separate one thing from another. A perfect example of this tendency exists in our understanding of the term Nature Photography.

Nature Photos Focus Your Attention In Two Ways

Nature and landscape photography can occur in either natural or man made environments. A key difference is that nature photography is often associated with a closer up examination of a particular landscape location. So, while you might stand back and try to make a landscape photo that incorporates large areas of a forest, a nature photograph is more likely to be made from a stand of trees, a single tree or even a leaf.

You can see how the photograph at the top of this post utilizes strong compositional elements of color, shape, texture and repetition to produce a striking close up image of a flower inside the Flower Dome at the Gardens by the Bay complex in Singapore.

Nature photos can also deal with the concept of The Nature Of Things. One way to do this is to use abstraction to concentrate attention on the subject, story or metaphor your photo is exploring, rather than simply the object being photographed.

  Looking down onto the fabulous  interactive lighting display  at the massive  Marina Bay Sands  shopping complex in  Singapore .

Looking down onto the fabulous interactive lighting display at the massive Marina Bay Sands shopping complex in Singapore.

Abstraction Is At The Heart Of An Artist's Life

While both landscape and nature photos can be either documentary or abstract in nature, the fact that you tend to isolate and, thereby, monumentalize individual elements from the larger environment suggests that nature photography lends itself to abstraction.

But there are many ways to abstract an image. In fact, if you think about abstraction as a way of taking something out of its reality, then the very process of photography - by which I mean making pictures in camera, processing them and sharing them online is, by definition, abstraction.

Photographers often explore abstraction by changing perspective through the choice of lens focal length and/or the relative differences between the camera to subject and camera to background distances.

A Humboldt penguin swimming, just below the waterline, in a purpose built facility at the Jurong Bird Park in Singapore.

There are many ways by which we can abstract an image, including the following:

  • Black and white
  • Sepia
  • High contrast
  • Infrared
  • Macro photography
  • Selective focus and shallow depth of field
  • Viewpoint
  • Perspective
  • Scale
  • Silhouette
  • Reflection

Remember, the more you change the way something appears the greater the abstraction.

Lots of beautiful light cubes by the water outside of the Marina Bay Sands shopping complex at night in Singapore.

Art Is About The Exploration Of The Nature Of Things

Perhaps the most interesting approach to nature or, for that matter, any kind of photography is when your photos seek to explore the nature of things. This is a clear example of when photography moves beyond a process of mere documentation to explore more esoteric or spiritual concerns.

Photography, as art, does not seek to provide answers. The purpose of art is to ask questions and I'm referring here, for the most part, to the most important questions that encourage artist and viewer to think on their place in this world and the ultimate experience that exists just beyond our normal everyday perception. Photography, as art, can help bridge that gap.

I'm not sure that, at our current stage of evolution, we're able to truly understand the nature of things. While there are ascetics, from various religions, that have dedicated much of their lives to this very search the fact remains that religion repels as many as it attracts. Religion is mostly hierarchal, male dominated and, one way or the other, emerged in politics and scandal.

While I feel much of the turmoil within modern societies has emerged with the loss of so many of the rituals that used to underpin the lives of our forebears, the fact remains that many folk seek understanding and community outside that which is offered by established religions. 

This may not be the case with you. Great! If you're happy and engaged in your own religious practice then stay in the place that's right for you. But, please, understand and respect the fact that it's not the place for all good and meaning seeking people.

It might also be worthwhile reflecting on the fact that most folks who belong to a particular religion do so because of the country and/or family into which they were born. There's no right nor wrong, nor good or bad associated with such things. More often than not these choices are made for us, before we are mature enough to decide for ourselves.

Beware Of Distraction As It Leads To Darkness

It's important to understand that one can seek to live a spiritual life outside of an organized religion. Photography, as art, can encourage us to spend some of the time we have between the worlds of the known and that other timeless space to which, in our hearts, I believe we all aspire to reach.

Spending time making or viewing beautiful, life-affirming images is a way by which we can touch the sublime beauty that exists on the edge of our understanding.

Perhaps our main purpose in life is to bring ourselves and, through our efforts, more of humanity closer to the ultimate understanding that is largely lost to us in this world that we've created for ourselves: a world of distraction.

  A young family viewing a  Manatee  in a large aquarium at the  River Safari  park in  Singapore .

A young family viewing a Manatee in a large aquarium at the River Safari park in Singapore.

Choose the programs you watch and the music you listen to carefully. Likewise, be in the practice of catching yourself when your thoughts and words turn negative. My own humor is nothing but ironic and self-effacing and it remains largely untamed by the sterility of political correctness.

But I do work very hard to bring some peace and beauty into my life and the lives of so many others through my life as a travel photographer and teacher of photography.

Whatever your own true path is do try to stay true to it. And beware of distraction. You will surely take the wrong path many times in life, but straying too far and too long onto paths that are not your own can lead you to the darkness of an unfulfilled life. And what a terrible waste that would be. Don't you think?

Given the choice, I'II also look for the light amongst the darkness. 

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru