How to Take Nature Photos Like A Pro

Aug 24, 2017


Nature Photography Tips

Cades Cove is one of the most mesmerizing places to capture nature. If you are new to photography, or if you're like the majority of us and into "iphoneography", Cades Cove brings a layered depth for any stage of the photography process. You will have the opportunity to capture images of a wide range of wildlife such as horses, elk, deer, black bears, turkeys, and songbirds all the way to several species of trees. Photography opportunities don't stop there, you'll also see magnificent waterfalls, radiant wildflowers, historic structures, and the beauty of the valley only enhances as the seasons change.

Know Your Equipment

Smartphones these days are equipped with special camera settings that will naturally reflect light in the appropriate ways, focus on an individual object with portrait mode which blurs the surroundings, a live photo option where you can capture a photo that has video qualities, a pano option that allows you to take a wide view shot from left to right that works by stitching the scenery together, there's even a timelapse option where you can record a specific area over a long period of time- we recommend using a tripod attachment for iPhone. If you are using a regular digital camera or a high-end camera, you will want to become familiar with the options that lay at your very fingertips. Knowing how to operate your camera and equipment will keep you from losing those little moments in nature that pop up out of nowhere. If you are hesitant to take photographs with your smartphone because the better photo op might come directly after you press the snap, try taking a "burst" of photos by holding down the snap for a select period of time. This allows you to go back and select the best photo out of the burst of photos.

Burst Tip: you may have to spend some quality time digging through your burst and it will take anywhere from 30 to 150+ depending on how long you decide to hold your finger down. This can also take up a lot of storage on your phone! Practice is key.

Know What You're Looking For

Have some type of a plan before you go out regarding what you are choosing to capture during your venture. This allows you to know where to spend more time or allows you the opportunity to figure out if you just want to be very candid and see if luck is on your side.


The time of day will have a lot to do with the outcome of your photos. Not just with lighting, but also the animals and feeding schedules. Animals are most active in the morning before the sun becomes warm and mid to late afternoon when the sun shifts.

Tip: If you are hoping for crisp and vibrant pictures, early to mid day is ideal. If you are wanting more depth, the early evening will give you the saturation you are looking for. Rule of thumb is beginning and end of the day.

Our biggest suggestion is to have fun with it and take your time. If it's attractive to you, snap a pic! If you are wanting to be able to take a long range photo with your phone, you may want to invest in a fisheye lens attachment to your smartphone. You are also liable to find unlimited photography practice of fauna and flora from the deck of your Heartland cabin rental.

Consider taking a photography workshop with local photographer Jim Eastin!


Photo Credit: Hank Halsey via Flickr

Category: Things to do

Doug Shanks


By Doug Shanks a Smoky Mountain blogger and writes about things to do in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley, and Sevierville, Tennessee. Area interests include hiking, fishing, whitewater rafting, shopping, and family fun.

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