Exploring the countryside can bring some truly fantastic photographic opportunities. Rural settings are bursting with life, natural features and an explosion of vibrant colour. If you enjoy photography, consider heading out into the great outdoors and letting the countryside inspire you!
Whilst urban landscapes and cities provide uniformity and harsh lines; the countryside can provide unusual shapes, random features, and natural details. Rivers carrying fish can create weaving paths through fields and forests. Farmhouses can provide a glimpse of humanity within a landscape of natural beauty. Hay bales and corn stand golden in the sun and blow freely in the wind. Herds of cows and flocks of sheep amble slowly across the land chewing grass as they walk. There is something new and different around every corner you take!
If you want to find adventure and excitement within the countryside, we have compiled some useful tips on how to improve your rural photography:
Use wildlife and people to your advantage
Although the countryside is full of natural landmarks, do not overlook wildlife and human activity! Rural settings are teeming with life and you can capture some amazing shots. Fields are full of livestock and cattle. The trees are full of colourful birds. Rivers and lakes contain some superb species of fish and insects. Take photos of wildlife, see how they interact with the natural world – try to capture them in their natural habitat or mid-action.
Human activity in the countryside can provide yet another interesting set of photos. Lone ramblers walking along epic hiking trails. Farmers herding or tending to their cattle. Workers driving farm machinery or collecting crops from fields. Including humans within your compositions can create a sense of scale and provide viewers with a story and something they can relate too.
Don’t rely solely on Landscape Photos
This tip correlates with the above pointer but is just as important. Many photographers when in the countryside can get carried away shooting only landscape photos. We completely understand this – it is hard not to snap a superb wide-angle shot of an epic rural setting if given the chance!
Whilst landscape photographs are perfectly acceptable, we advise trying to vary your compositions too. Experiment with depth of field – move closer to objects and shoot the landscape from a different angle. Consider trying some macro shots too – take close-ups of interesting plants and flowers for example or unusual details on trees. By all means, take some stunning landscape photos too, but test your skills, change your composition, and be creative.
Explore and stray from the beaten path
The countryside is a big place; so explore it properly! Too many people trudge the same footpaths and trails over and over again. Whilst staying on the beaten path provides familiarity and security, there is something truly wonderful about creating your own paths and simply seeing where your feet take you! If you head out into the countryside, consider straying off the beaten path and exploring areas that are less travelled.
Important note: Be aware of trespassing rules in England – make sure you’re not violating any laws or stepping into the private property. It’s best to wander through the areas where it is legal to do so – like mountain, moor or heath.
In doing so, you can open yourself up to a whole new world of possibilities. You will find new routes, interesting natural features, and discover a plethora of exciting photographic opportunities. Aside from finding new compositions, exploring little-known areas is also just a heap of fun – there is something inherently exciting about walking into the unknown and seeing what wonders you can find.
Consider using HDR compositions
This is an advanced technique that does require a little post-processing work. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range imaging – the aim of an HDR photo is to provide a realistic photo that reflects what the human eye can see, as opposed to what a camera can see.
HDR photos are particularly suited for countryside landscapes as it is often difficult to choose the correct exposure. If you take a photo based on a correct exposure for the sky, for example, the foreground items may be too dark and under-exposed. HDR photos allow you to create balance.
The process of creating an HDR photo involves taking 3 or more replica shots of the exact same scene. Each photo, however, will have a varying level of exposure –one photo will be slightly over-exposed, one photo will be under-exposed, and one photo will have a neutral exposure.
The idea is, that each photo will capture a certain level of detail that one of the other exposures would not. For example, the underexposed photo will capture greater detail in the sky. Alternatively, the over-exposed photo will have a washed out sky, but the foreground items such as trees will be visible. Once you have taken several identical photos, you would then process them as an HDR shot in a program such as Aurora HDR.
Make use of light
Light is an important aspect of all types of photography. When taking rural photos, however, light can drastically alter your composition and create some fantastic effects. For example, a rural landscape could look completely different at sunrise compared to during sunset or dusk. Light can alter the colours of a rural scene and also cast some fantastic shadows and highlights. Consider how light will affect your photos, and think about heading out into the countryside during different times of the day.
Hope you have found these tips useful! The countryside is a fantastic place to explore, and this type of landscape allows you to take some truly magnificent photos. Although we have provided you with a series of superb tips; we feel that the most important tip of all is to ensure that you capture the true atmosphere of rural life. Use your photos to tell a story and to build up a picture of what our rural areas are all about. Interact with the people, search for wildlife – immerse yourself in this landscape and enjoy exploring our beautiful countryside.
Max Therry is an architecture student who is fond of photography and wants to become a professional photographer. He is also working on his photography blog about photo editing, modern photo trends, and inspiration. Feel free to reach him by email or contact on Instagram.