2. For Landscapes, Compensate for the Wide-Angle
The downside of digital comes when photographing landscapes, according to Tomlinson. A wider angle of view than can be captured with a standard lens is needed for landscapes. “If you put a 20mm Nikkor lens on a digital camera, it becomes equal to a 30mm zoom. A 10-20mm zoom becomes a 15-30mm on a digital,” he said. So, Tomlinson recommends buying a new wide-angle lens for landscapes. “I like to use a wide angle for landscapes to convey the feeling of being there, the feeling that you are in the picture,” he said.
3. Try a Tripod
Tomlinson always uses a tripod for his nature shots. “A tripod is the quickest way to improve your pictures. It makes them sharp. Even at a relatively high shutter [speed] there is the possibility that the camera will shake,” he said.
4. Blur the Water
He uses a slow shutter to blur the flowing water of a waterfall. It gives it mist-like quality. Since digital allows you to review the effects you're creating, he closes the lens down as much as possible and checks the results.
5. Use a Polarizing Filter
It's always more difficult to shoot nature in the daylight with a regular lens because of reflections and shadows on the leaves and water. For this reason, the best nature shots are taken on cloudy and rainy days. Tomlinson uses a polarizing filter that serves two purposes. It cuts down on the amount of light by a couple of stops, which enables him to use a slower shutter speed. It controls the reflection on the leaves and water simply by rotating the lens. It will also increase the saturation of everything.
“For waterfall pictures, it enables you to slow the speed and control the reflection of light on the rocks and in the water where it is pulled to the bottom,” said Tomlinson. “If you fully polarize the water, it will go black in these places and will eliminate all reflections. But you can rotate the filter to increase and decrease this effect.” While polarizing lenses don't change color of the subject, they do eliminate and control reflections, especially at right angles, according to Tomlinson.
6. Don't Overexpose
Like film, with digital you must be careful not to overexpose, said Tomlinson, adding it's always better to underexpose. “Getting the right exposure is the key or you'll lose your details and highlights,” he said.
7. Forget the Sun
Believe it or not, it's best to shoot nature on rainy or cloudy days, according to Tomlinson. Saturation is much less in bright sunlight than it is on an overcast day. “Pay attention next time it's raining,” said Tomlinson. “Notice how the flowers look bright and the grass is greener. This is another reason why I love to shoot in the early morning. The first and last light is the best light for photographing nature. It's also when the animals come out.”