11 Great Outdoor Subjects To Photograph
Photograph outdoor subjects, just take your camera outdoors and take photographs of many of the things you see there.
You can have great fun with a camera indoors, but you’ll have even more outdoors. When you move outside and photograph outdoor subjects, the probability of having fun increases.
As soon as you step outside with your camera you’re presented with an opportunity to photograph outdoor subjects in droves. Just look around and they’re everywhere.
Here I’m going to suggest some. You might decide to shoot these, or they might suggest others that you haven’t considered.
There are so many epic outdoor possibilities that it’s easy to ignore good, but not quite epic ones.
A road, an easy outdoor subject to photograph
Where ever you are, when you step outside, you’ll be near a road. It’s not the most obvious thing to shoot when you start to photograph outdoor subjects, but try it.
There are off course many kinds of road, they could become a project of their own.
Regardless of whether it’a a highway, or a tiny rural road, don’t stand in the middle when taking the photo.
Apart from the obvious reason, you’ll get a better photograph if you stand to the side. It will be less symmetrical.
If you’re shooting a quiet rural road, and you have a car, take the photo on a long straight part. Park as close to the edge as possible. Stand directly in front of, or behind the vehicle and take the photo from there.
In any other situation stay off the road. Never take other road users for granted. It’s so easy to get distracted, while no one uses the road, while they’re knowingly distracted, it happens.
The road itself will only be one element of the photo, what’s to the sides will also be part. There will also be a huge difference depending on the focal length of the lens you use.
Trees are one of the most popular outdoor subjects
When you begin to photograph outdoor subjects, look for a tree. Some things you will only encounter in the countryside, other only in cities, but you’ll find trees in both.
Apparently trees are one of the, if not the easiest subjects to sell a photograph of. There’a a huge variety of them, and they seem to grow everywhere.
Even among individual tree species, well deciduous anyway, they all have their own distinct shape. Coniferous tress are not so distinct, all Christmas Trees look more or less the same.
Deciduous trees are somewhat more interesting. They spend most of the year without any leaves. In summer they dress up in magnificent green.
In Autumn they turn to shades of red, brown, rust, orange and yellow. Then they fall off and prepare for the cycle to begin again.
They can grow individually, or in groups. Different varieties grow beside each other, decked out in their own shade of green all summer long.
A car, often a moving outdoor subject
There are many times when you want to photograph outdoor subjects, and it will take a while to find them. Not so when the subject sought is a car.
You’ll need to be in a very isolated location if one is hard to find. The biggest obstacle to shooting one is regarding them as worthwhile subjects. Apart from people obsessed with, few head out for a day photographing cars.
They make their way into many photos naturally. Often times a photographer will wait until one leaves the frame before pressing the shutter.
As a subject though, they provide great scope for different shots. Do you shoot the front, the rear, the side, or from above. Should you shoot at an angle and include a side, and either the front or rear.
Ultimately a car could be one of the easiest subjects to find. And as a bonus, they will offer more choice of shots than most outdoor subjects.
It’s not easy to photograph rain
Some outdoor subjects are best shot from the inside. Rain can make an interesting subject, but it’s nicer shot from inside. The camera will thank you as well.
O K so there are cameras that are built to withstand rain. If you have one of those, you might venture out for a few minutes. Apart from under water cameras, most would prefer working in dry conditions.
The artist JMW Turner once got strapped to the mast of a ship during violent weather. He wanted to experience a storm before painting one.
Standing inside a clean window is just as good, and better for any camera.
One of the best rain shots is when it’s driving into the window you’re looking through. The rain will distort the view through the window.
If the rain is light and the drops are staying on the glass, it can be a more obvious photo.
A rain shower can arrive suddenly and unexpectedly. If that does happen, and your camera is not waterproof, put it away.
Stand under shelter, and then shoot some. If not, don’t be tempted, you’ll dry off better than the camera.
Birds never stay still for long
Some opportunities to photograph outdoor subjects are tricker than others. A bird isn’t going to pose for you, well not intentionally anyway.
They’re much easier than wild animals, especially when on water.
Many birds live in urban areas, particularly in the waterways that flow through cities. Generally these are used to people and not easily frightened away.
Other species of bird like to visit people’s gardens. They come for food, not human company. With a little planning, they can be easily photographed.
Set up a feeding station and let them get used to using it. Incorporate a hide from the beginning, and that should work.
Off course, the birds that these methods will allow you to photograph, will be common species. Still it will be desirable to get images of every possible bird.
To get the lesser known species will be more difficult. It will start with researching them, their habits and habitats.
Farm animals are great subjects to photograph
This might require some travelling if you live in a city. However if you love photography then you will be willing to travel.
There’s several common farm animals; cows, sheep, pigs, goats, horses and donkeys are among the most popular here in Ireland.
There are other non native animals that turn up here on farms occasionally. There are a few Alpaca farms here, and they’re definitely not a native species.
Horses found on farms here used to be big strong ones. They were used for ploughing and as cart horses. Those activities have long since being replaced by machinery.
In parts of Ireland now farm land seems to occupied mainly by thoroughbred horses. They’ll count as farm animals here.
If you go to the country to shoot farm animals, and see a wild animal, photograph that if possible. Farm animals are easily found, wild ones aren’t.
River or lake, a water body adds to every photo
Water always enhances landscape photography. A stream, a river, a canal, a lake or an ocean all lift a photograph.
A body of water can photograph as almost any colour. Despite being completely transparent, it will reflect anything when still.
Add some wind and you’ll get ripples or waves. The water will still be colourless, but it will seem to have a strong colour now.
While still it will reflect whatever is the other side of where you looking from. It can act as a giant mirror.
If you’re in a rural area it can reflect a mountain, or trees, or whatever is the other side. In summer it will reflect green trees, and in autumn, brown ones.
Most cities have rivers or canals flowing through them. They also reflect their surroundings. Mainly this will be buildings.
While being completely colourless, nothing can photograph with more colour than water.
When you shoot at the edge of a lake, or pond, with shallow water, you can see right through. It can be sand, stone or weeds.
The biggest downside to waterways is pollution. If you find a river or canal with clear water, sometimes you can see fish in it. You can have some frustrating fun trying to photograph them.
Photograph derelict or ruined buildings as outdoor subjects
Buildings are built. People live in them. They house businesses. Time passes. The inhabitants die. Businesses fail. They become derelict. If left, they become ruins.
Then they become legitimate photographic subjects. They can be photographed from the outside, or even inside.
While the roofs remain intact, and windows and doors relitively so, much of the interior will also. There may be furniture, books, crockery and suchlike there.
In this state they can yield very sad and dusty photographs. Some photographers specialise in making images of these scenes.
When they pass that state and become mere ruins, they’re not so sad. Yes you know what they once were, but the reminders of life have disappeared.
Now there’s ivy growing on the remaining walls. Birds might be building nests there. There’s a different form of life using it.
Now they can make good photographs with little to suggest former times.
It will probably be easier to find these in rural areas also. The sites they were built on might be too valuable to allow them for long, in urban areas.
Place of worship, make an interesting photo opportunity
Some of the most interesting buildings are places of worship. In Ireland we mainly have Churches, but they all seem to be special constructions.
They are built by people who believe strongly in their faith. Therefore they construct buildings with care, attention and detail.
Hotels, office blocks, shops, and some houses can also be special and spectacular, but religious buildings are more consistantly so.
They’re to be found in every community also. It’s unlikely that you’re going to have to travel far to find some.
In Ireland the religious buildings are dominated by Christian Churches. Other religions are gaining ground here, but still lag well behind in the number of places of worship.
Churches are not just special in terms of architecture, they’re also full of art and iconography. This is mainly what makes them more interesting than other buildings.
Wind turbines, a modern outdoor subject
When you photograph outdoor subjects, they don’t all have to old subjects. You can also shoot subjects that have appeared recently.
I know I’ve included cars in this article already, and they’re still relatively new. They are commonplace by now though.
I know wind mills have been around for centuries, far longer than cars. Here, I mean the turbines that generate electricity. While the moving parts look work like traditional wind mills, the structures look very different.
You will almost certainly have to venture into the countryside to find them. Generally they’re found on mountains, or open plains. They need to be in the path of wind.
Lots of people think that they spoil the look of the enviornment. I agree with that i one way, and in another, I like the look of them.
They probably detract more than they add visually to a mountain when they’re planted planted on top of one. At the same time I think they add something to an otherwise featureless, wide open plain.
From a mountain top they can be seem from distance, and don’t add to the skyline. On plains, they’re not visible form such a distance, and can have little to compete with, visually.
In time they may be replaced by different technology, but for now they’re here. For that reason we might as well photograph them.
Centuries from now our photographs might be all that remains of them. Our images might be well regarded by historians then.
Photograph outdoor subjects like flowers
Flowers are colourful. Some of them grow wild. Others are planted and their growth is both planned and managed.
One way or another, flowers make great subjects to photograph. You can harvest some of them and bring them indoors, but when wanting to photograph outdoor subjects, they’re great.
In most species, all the flowers are of a single colour. There are some that come in more than one colour. Then there are others where every flower is multi-coloured.
In cities it’s common to find flowers growing in parks or public flower beds. Some people keep flower pots or baskets also.
In the countryside there are flowers all over the place. Many people have flower gardens, and off course they grow wild.
Bring your camera for a walk and you should find flowers, in or out of cities.
You can photograph single flowers or groups of them. They usually grow in number so the photograph just one you will have to zoom in.
Zoom back out a little and get a photo of several together. If there’s more than one variety growing together, you’ll likely get a very colourful image.
This is a project that should be taken long term. Start by photographing whatever you encounter first, and add gradually to the project. Some subjects may be harder to find so leave them for now.
One or other of these suggestions to photograph outdoor subjects may inspire you more than others. You can make these a project in themselves.
I have only included a few suggestions here, there are thousands more. It doesn’t matter what you photograph, just enjoy yourself.