How to photograph a forest

Getting a decent photograph in a forest can be one of the hardest things in the world. Usually it’s too sunny. While the forest looks stunning to our eyes, the camera records only deep shadows and blown highlights. But there are some tricks and tips to look out for. The key ingredients for a successful photo of a forest include mist, snow, water, colour, sunlight (sometimes!) and last but not least, composition. Here are some examples of how these ingredients can combine to create successful images:

Mist and colour

Forest floor

This image combines great mist with red and green colours in a strong composition.

Mist and sunlight

Morning light at Mountain House

Here the suns rays strike early morning mist creating a dramatic composition. The colours have been desaturated to emphasize the suns rays.

Snow and sunlight

Winter forest

Snow creates interest and the image is completed by a star of sunshine. The outside trees anchor the image.

Snow and colour


The red totara stands out in an otherwise fairly average composition.


Forest stream

Water and movement bring almost any forest scene to life by providing a focal point and a sense of movement. Strong sunlight still usually needs to be avoided, however.





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  1. John
    August 12, 2013

    Great images, Spencer, and particularly the way that they combine to produce a message – the whole more than a simple sum of the parts. Hard to pick among them, although I perhaps like the snow/Hall’s totara and water images the most.