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Nature photography is a huge field and a wide range that is not easy to define and the rules might be hard to understand as the terms seem fluid. How we define nature photography depends on how we define nature. But there are set rules and there are borders that define it quite strictly, to protect the genre and also the nature. Nature photography is in itself is just capturing a moment that does not depend on a human being, a moment that has happened naturally. That means nature photography captures moments that photographer can’ t control or set up, that keep on standing after the photo is taken and when photographer has left. The charm of nature photography is showing nature the way it is. For good photo it is  still  important to capture authentic and unique moments.

Nature photograph that is set up loses its soul fast. Plant or animal on staged shot is never natural. Some photographers feed the animals, so they re-appear in the same spot again and again, and they have better chances of getting the photo they are looking for. Especially some animals are very shy and would not just openly appear in front of a person. So in this case the wild animal is being staged by the photographer. Some photographers use trained animals in the shorts, or use sounds to attract birds, touch animals to put them in the right position, drive off-road and follow the animals, the list goes on. Nature has thousands of details that define the subject, so a staged photo does not feel right to a nature close person, who knows how the laws of nature work. The more knowledge photographer has, the better photos they will manage to capture in the natural habitat, no staging required.

It is quite common that nature photographers and filmers spend years in the wild to capture the right moment. They learn the place, its inhabitants, keep a diary of the animals movements, their trails and nests. One year they gather information and the next year they know where to go and how to prepare themselves, to get the right shot. A lot of preparation goes into the perfect photo. This is exactly where lies nature photography magic, mission, charm and what differs it from other genres. Ethic has an important part in nature photography.

The most important rule of ethics is that the subject on a photo must continue to live its life also after the shoot. Does not matter how good the image is there is never an excuse to break a bird nest or step on the sensitive flora. Of course this does not mean that capturing zoo animals, planted flowers or pets is forbidden. The only difference in this case is that photographer must inform the viewers about how the picture was taken. These sets can never compete in photography competition. This is against the rules.

But what are the borders of nature photography?

If an animal in cage is a manipulation. Then what is a bird that is flying in and out of cage? And how should we take human as part of nature photos? These are complicated cases. Sometimes it just depends on intuition and the general message of the photo. The general rule is that human being and objects made by humans are exceptions in nature photography. That is mainly because it is always possible to ask people to pose. At the same time it is possible that a human on nature photo empowers the message. To answer this dilemma we must understand the rules of nature.There are couple of regulations that try to define nature photography worldwide. Rules are needed to protect the animals, the environment and also to protect the photographers themselves. Wild animals can be unpredictable and disturbing their home can make agitate them and they might attack.

What is the connection between nature photography and art? Nature image does not mean it has to be flat and boring like passport photo. The general rules of composition and expression apply to all genres in photography. Besides that a good nature photograph has a certain wow effect. Wow effect is a moment when nature, art and capturing a moment come together. It is hard to explain how to capture wow effect. One thing is for sure- it can only happen on sincere and authentic nature images. Authentic image without manipulation should be the basic rule of all nature photography!

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