Splendid Tree Photography | 10 Inspiring Tips & Ideas

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tree photography

Tree Photography

Trees are wonderful subjects and often combine time spend in nature with photography, making it a mindful activity. You can take all the time in the world to blatantly look the tree in the eye and discover its essence. They’re not going anywhere, right?

I think one of the great things about photographing trees is that no tree is the same. They all have their own unique character, like humans. 

But unlike humans, they don’t move around. They don’t get restless or uncomfortable when it takes you forever to find the best angle. They don’t feel self-conscious or awkward and are always in the best mood. 

In other words, trees are very willing and patient subjects. 

Space to contemplate

But tree photography can also be challenging. It’s not always easy to capture the majestic quality of a tree in a photo. Essential aspects can get lost in the process. That’s why being observant and mindful is vital in tree photography.

You know, photographing trees is not just a matter of finding an epic tree. Tree photography also offers you space to contemplate.

Check out 5 Mindful Photography Tips!

They want you to slow down. They’re not rushing you. You can look at them from every imaginable angle. They graciously allow you time to come up with the best approach to immortalize them. 

So, when you’re confronted with a stunning tree or a mysterious forest take some time to pay attention and ask yourself a couple of questions. And like I said, trees will grant you that time.

Ask questions

First, you need to have a good look at the scene in front of you and determine what your main subject is. 

Is it a single tree? A tree family? What stands out to you?

What’s the context of the tree? Is the background interesting? 

What’s the weather like? Is it a bright sunny afternoon or a moody misty morning? 

Eager to discover more about light? Go to The Ultimate Guide To Mastering Natural Light Photography

When you really take the time to let in what strikes you and dissect the scene you’ll get an idea of how to translate your impressions into a compelling photo.

Observing and considering these aspects before you press the shutter sets you up for amazing tree photography. Because you have connected to those essential features that otherwise get lost easily.

Next, I wanna share some tree photography tips and most of all inspiring ideas for photographing trees.

#1 The Lone Tree

The lone tree is quick to set a mood. Quite often it emanates a sense of loneliness but it can also be stillness or peacefulness. 

Try to emphasize the feeling in your composition. Keep the background as clean as possible and make use of the rule of thirds. This results in open space and will accentuate the lonely or peaceful feeling it calls up.

tree photography | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: On the road to Aveiro Portugal

#2 A Tree Lane

A path surrounded by trees gives an embracing feeling. We feel enveloped by the trees. The path itself makes for natural leading lines guiding the viewer’s eyes through the image.

A symmetrical composition works very well for a tree lane because it emphasizes the leading lines.

It’s not always easy to find a good tree lane because both tree lines need to be more or less the same. So this is most likely a matter of taking advantage of the situation when you stumble on an attractive tree lane.

tree photography | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: A tree lane in Alto Adige, Italy

#3 The Canopy

Most trees are a lot taller than we are. Shooting up into the canopy of the tree highlights the height of the tree.

When you photograph a single tree like this, get as close to the tree as can, let’s say, belly to belly. Then point your camera upwards.

When you photograph the canopy of a group of trees you might want to lie down on the ground and shoot straight upwards. This results in converging lines of the trees coming together in the middle of the frame.

tree photography | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Tree canopy Parc Monsanto, Lisbon Portugal

#4 Repeating Trees

Sometimes a forest is so thick the trees stand very close together. And when the shape of their trunks is similar you can create a nice repeating pattern.

You’ll most likely find similar-looking trees in a commercial forest. 

In the wild, trees have a tendency to be very attached to their individuality. And who could blame them? 

Still, there’s something very calming in all those similar shapes. 

tree photography | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Thick forest in Alto Adige, Italy

#5 Tree Up Close 

Look for intriguing details by getting close to the tree. So often we stay at a distance but it really pays off to get super close.

Again, the tree is not going anywhere and won’t mind. 

Pay attention to the leaves, the bark, the trunk, the branches, or the roots. 

In each of them, you’ll find delightful details you can get lost in. 

If you want to add to the mystery, look for pockets of light illuminating the details with little specks of light leaving other areas in the shadows.

tree photography | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: The oldest tree in Lisbon, Portugal

#6 Trees In Season

It might look like a tree is very consistent in its appearance but they’re not of course. It’s just that tree time goes a lot slower then than human time.

Becoming aware of this aspect of tree life will make it easier for you to tap into the mindful nature of tree photography. 

To witness and capture the transformation of trees through the seasons you need time and patience. It’ll take you a year to photograph a tree in all the different seasons. 

When you take on this tree photography project you need to pick a tree first. A tree you have access to all year around. 

Then make sure to choose a point of view that’s easy to replicate. 

To account for different light situations throughout the year it’s a good idea to select a slightly higher ISO. Because you also want to make sure you select the same aperture setting to keep things as consistent as possible. And the higher ISO will give you some leeway.

#7 Through The Leaves

Photographing the sun through the leaves creates a mysterious feeling to an image. Especially when you manage to create a sunburst. A sunburst is when the sun ends up on your sensor in the shape of a star.

The trick is to close your aperture to f11 or f16. Then photograph straight into the sun and move around a little bit to find the angle that results in a sunburst. This works best if you photograph through the leaves.

tree photography | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Sunburst through the leaves of a tree, Lisbon, Portugal

#8 Tree Silhouette

To get a beautiful tree silhouette you need a couple of things. 

First, you need a single tree as this creates a nice, clean shape for the silhouette.

And secondly, you need a colorful sky. So it’s best to photograph during sunrise or sunset because then the sky is full of warm and vibrant colors.

And finally, you need to make sure that your sky is well exposed. That means in practical terms that you should underexpose.

Check out Sunset Photography for a step-by-step guide!

tree photography | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Tree silhouette Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

#9 Tree Reflections

Photographing the reflection of trees is another creative idea for tree photography.

Reflections are funny things. They create a reality within a reality. That’s why I always have my eyes open for reflections. 

And you can find them anywhere where there’s water. A little stream or a lake and even a puddle in the street after the rain will all work. 

If you’re in luck the body of water is surrounded by trees so you can photograph their reflections.

tree photography | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Reflection of trees in the water, Alto Adige, Italy

#10 Tree Shadows

As with the tree reflections you need a little luck to come across an intriguing tree shadow.

But not just luck. You also need to keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings. So that when there is a tree creating an intricate and playful shadow on a wall, you’re able to see it and are ready to capture it.

tree photography | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Shadow of a tree on a wall, Lisbon, Portugal

Final thoughts

Trees are a worthwhile subject and invite you to give them your time and attention.

And you know, trees are everywhere, not just in forests or the countryside. When you get into tree photography you’ll never have to wonder where you’re gonna find your next subject. 

Which tree photography idea are you gonna try out first? Let us know in the comments section!

Did you try one of the tips? Share your photos on Instagram and mention @photography-playground!

Wanna dive deep into mindful photography? Check out See Fresh | Mindful Photography Course.

Hi, I’m Karin

Your Photography Mentor

Are you struggling to make sense of your camera?

I feel your frustration when you’ve once again missed an important moment!

I believe you shouldn’t have to take that risk.

That’s why at Photography Playground, you learn to become friends with your camera and take creative control so you fall in love with your photos.

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