Equipment you need for forest photography.
You’ll need certain gear to capture wooded areas in all their glory.
1. Camera body
Get familiar with all aspects of your camera and camera settings before you start to shoot. Practice in manual mode, try out different ISO settings, and more to learn what you like. Shoot with RAW images to make your edits easier in post-processing. “The first thing you need to do is get familiar with the camera you bought. You don’t want to be in a situation where some good light is happening, but you don’t know the settings of your camera,” Davidson says.
2. Wide-angle lens
A staple of landscape photography, this lens has a significantly smaller focal length than a standard lens. Wide-angles allow more of a scene to be photographed without moving farther from the subject. “I’ll always bring some sort of wide-angle lens. Most of the time, the 16mm to 55mm works pretty well in those kinds of situations,” says Davidson.
3. Telephoto lens
This lens’s physical length is shorter than the focal length, which creates a magnifying, zoom-like effect. Use a telephoto lens longer than 50mm to produce the best forest images possible with less background blur.
Generally, a lens within the range of 70 to 200mm f/2.8 is preferred for forest photography, as that combination best re-creates the way our brain visually processes object-to-background relationships.
4. Macro lens
Used for shooting small subjects, macro photography makes small objects appear larger than life. With a macro lens, you’re able to focus from infinity to 1:1 magnification, which will make the image reproduced on the camera’s sensors the same size or larger than the real-life object. Perfect for when you want to get up close and personal with the forest floor and the things that populate it.
Keep in mind that you will have a shallow depth of field when you shoot at such close range, and keeping the camera still with a tripod or mount is essential for capturing crisp shots of small subjects.
A tripod is recommended for most environments, but it’s vital to capture your best forest photos when a strong breeze can put every leaf in motion. Tripods not only help avoid camera shake but also can help you take sharper images, even in low light, as the canopy of trees can give off dark shadows.
“In the forest, you want to use a tripod because you’re not going to have that much light. Without one, you’re going to go home with blurry images,” says photographer Joseph Filer.
You also can set up long exposure photos with a slower shutter speed that you couldn’t achieve without a tripod.
6. Circular Polarizer
Because it’s typically best to shoot forests on an overcast day (because brightness can wash out the vibrancy of your photos, as mentioned), this filter reduces the glare from condensation and wetness from rain or morning dew and enhances saturation naturally. This keeps that dynamic color intact, but it will darken excess glare off water in your forest photos.