10 Ways to Capture Hidden Natural Beauty

At first glance, a forest trail can seem unremarkable. The scenery repeats over and over again: trail, trees, rocks. This repetition can lull you into missing something remarkable to photograph.

If you look closely at a seemingly bland forest path, there are actually dozens of possibilities for wonder and beauty. Walking with a child can help you notice these ‘hidden’ sights, but you can also discover them for yourself with a bit of childlike curiosity and creativity.

That… And an online list. Here are 10 ideas to get your creativity going next time you’re out in the woods and lacking inspiration.

1. Look closely at tree trunks.

If you want to get beautiful shots of texture, tree trunks are great first places to look. Tree trunks might look smooth, uniform and monochromatic from a distance, but their bark can be colorful and unique from close by.

Besides being beautiful themselves, trees are good spots to look for other natural beauties, like mushrooms and insects.

teambee – cherry tree trunk
cherry tree trunk

Shey – Battered but not broken
rough bark tall tree yellow leaves

2. Watch bugs.

Although insects have a reputation for being ugly, they’re actually fascinating and beautiful photography subjects. That’s one reason why they’re a top choice for macro photos. They’re not as well-loved by photographers as flowers, either. In other words, your photos won’t be competing with so many other photos of exactly the same shot.

Bugs might be hard to photograph sometimes, but you’re sure to get a great photo with enough patience and the right strategies. Learn more about photographing insects like butterflies, so you can return home happy instead of frustrated.

Amine Fassi – Syrphe – 4
bee over flower

Alex Greenshpun – Trailblazer
ladybug on grass

3. Forage for mushrooms.

You don’t have to be a trained mushroom hunter to enjoy the beauty of wild mushrooms. Their quixotic appearance make them interesting photography subjects at every angle.

Engeline Tan – Trio
three button mushrooms

Engeline Tan – Fairy’s chandelier
mushroom chandelier

4. Go out when there are raindrops or dew.

One way to reinvigorate your creativity is to see the same subject in a different situation. Since you can’t move outdoor subjects like a forest, you have to take advantage of environmental changes instead. Fortunately, changes occur every day. You only need to adjust your routine a little.

Dew and rain are both great opportunities for seeing the same trees and plants transformed into new subjects. You might need to get up earlier to photograph dew, but at least you can bring your morning coffee with you.

Elizme – Spring rains
rain on leaves

maf04 – First Dew of the Morning
dew on white flower

5. Or mist.

Like rain and dew, mist can help you find beauty in something you thought was unremarkable. Some areas are foggy throughout the year. If you’re ‘lucky’ enough to live in one of these places, getting a misty forest picture should be easy.

For everyone else, there’s autumn.

Andrew Birch – A Little Hazy
misty forest

PROFotis Mavroudakis – Foggy autumn forest road
Foggy autumn forest road

6. Try bokeh.

We know what you’re thinking. “Thank you, captain obvious.”

Jochen Vander Eecken – Autumn Textures.
tree moss bokeh

Elizme – Refrains of Nature
bokeh tree leaves

7. Track birds and other animals.

If you know nothing about birds and animals, you may need to get a dedicated birder or forest ranger to accompany you on a forest walk. (Or, more likely, you’ll accompany them on their walks.) Photographing beautiful wild animals is always a matter of luck and patience, but finding experts to help you will definitely increase your chances.

R Casey – Sorry for running behind…
chipmunk on tree stump

TroyMarcyPhotography.com – Pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers
Pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers

8. Look for color contrasts.

Sometimes, the beauty of a subject lies mostly in its position to other subjects. Contrasting colors, textures and shapes are all great sources of beauty. To create this contrast, try moving small objects next to others, like a rock next to a plant. For larger subjects like an entire forest scene, try moving your position and stepping off the path to get a different view.

Pascal Arabatzis – Prateralle
forest in Austria

R Casey – Untitled
tree trunk

9. Search for sun rays.

Nothing brings sudden beauty into an otherwise dull scene like a beam of sunlight.

jordan parks – and i say, it’s alright
sun shining through leaves

Fotis Mavroudakis – Rays of light in misty forest
Rays of light in misty forest

10. Focus on individual leaves.

Unlike most of the forest, you can take leaves home with you without much difficulty. Once back in civilization, the incredible beauty of common leaves will become more obvious, if only in contrast to manmade creations.

jordan parks – collection
autumn leaves in row

Mariana- Untitled
rock and green leaf

These photos were selected from our Flickr group. Next time you capture a beautiful shot, share your photo with the group so we can admire your work!