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Shooting Environmental Images With Nikon Kit

What is an environmental image and when can it be used to your advantage?

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Shooting Environmental Images With Nikon Kit: Rock Hyrax Environmental

When you hear the term 'environmental image' you may think that it simply means an image with a strong message about pollution or the way humans treat our planet. But in photography an environmental image can be a way to add a different twist to your animal, wildlife and even human portraits. Here, we'll take a look at what the term means and how you can implement it. 


What does 'environmental image' mean?

Basically, an environmental image is one that shows the surroundings, or living area, or basically the environment in which the subject resides. The art of environmental portraits involves taking a wider view of your subject and incorporating the subject into the composition in a way that is pleasing to the eye. 


Why will shooting like this work?

An environmental portrait can help to frame your subject, give context to your subject and allow it room to breathe - sometimes, zooming right into your subject can make an image look cramped. 

Natural elements in the landscape, such as trees, flowers and plants in the foreground can help to add a feeling of the subject's environmental location.

Shooting Environmental Images With Nikon Kit: vatican portrait

What subjects will environmental imagery work with?

This type of photography is most commonly used with animals but can also be used with people or even important objects or monuments. The image should give a feeling of the surroundings of the subject, to set the scene for the image in a way. 

For example, with portraits it's possible to give a certain feel to the photo through the environment the portrait is set in, for example gritty and urban or out in the country - what the viewer can see in the background will determine how the image is interpreted.  

With animals, as discussed earlier natural subjects can help frame the image. Sometimes a much wider image where the subject is placed in a rule of thirds quadrant will work well. 


Key points:

  • Shoot wider with your subject located in a rule of thirds quadrant to please the eye.
  • Include objects that say something about the environment in which your subject resides, for example trees, rocks or even buildings.
  • Think about how you want the image to be portrayed - does the environment merit a more messy feel or does it require clean lines to work?
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