Nature Photography: Finding Picturesque Locations

There’s nothing like a stunning landscape to liven up a room, or to inspire an artist’s heart. How much more thrilling when you, with your own camera, capture a beautiful scene yourself!

Before you can start shooting landscapes, you need to find ideal locations.

Go Beyond the Highways

It’s no secret: the best way to see America’s grand landscapes is by road trip. This also means sites near the highways are the most photographed.

Go deeper for more unique photographs!

  • Ranch access exits lead to less-traveled roads through gorgeous country.
  • Fishing access sites often connect to trail systems with beautiful river views.  
  • Dirt roads penetrate deep into less-trafficked areas.

State and Regional Parks

Nature is most prominently on show in national parks (do I need to mention Yellowstone?), yet state or regional parks hold secret gems.

Some of my best landscapes (LINK) are from Headwaters State Park in Montana, and the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.

Love Hiking & Camping

The deeper you go, the more pristine the wilderness. Accessing remote sites requires an investment of time and effort. This means lots of hiking, lots of camping – you will be miserable unless you genuinely enjoy both activities.

A good trail book – by a local author – will be your best friend, and help you get started if you are new to outdoor living.

Consider Lighting

Consider the time of day you will be shooting. Try for the early morning or around twilight – both times of day that have dramatic lighting for beautiful results.

There may also be fewer people on the trails. Shooting landscapes is easier when there are not a hundred hikers passing through.

Relocate

If nature photography is your driving passion, and you have the means and opportunity to do so, consider relocating.

The reality is some areas have more wilderness locations (and thus landscape opportunities) than others. A few days or weeks is often not enough time to take full advantage of a wilderness area.

Staying Safe

  • Keep your phone charged (buy a car charger if needed).
  • Fill up the gas tank before you leave.
  • Go with a friend, or at least your dog, if you have one. Both can be deterrents to dangerous animal life (four or two-legged).
  • Bring extra water, food, and bear spray (if needed).
  • Avoid roads too rough for your vehicle (unless you have a vehicle made for rougher terrain).
  • Avoid trespassing. Not only is trespassing illegal and inconsiderate, but many property owners have dogs and/or firearms. It is not worth the risk.

At the end of the day, nature photography is an excuse to go adventuring. You will find the best landscapes the deeper you go into the wilderness, and the more you devote your time and heart to it.

What are some of your favorite sites for nature photography?

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