Photography in the National Parks – How to improve your photos

  • Contributor information: CNP

9 January 2018

Growing up surrounded by the South Downs National Park initially sparked my interest in the natural world. This later developed into a great passion for photographing the wildlife and landscapes around me. The South Downs offers a great variety of photographic opportunities, from rolling hills to dramatic coast, and from deep woodland to lowland heathland.

Photography is one of the main reasons I love to keep exploring my local National Park as well as ones further afield, there are always endless opportunities to take beautiful images. However, capturing the scene before you is not always as easy as you might hope though, some stunning views just don’t seem translate into a photograph. Here I will cover a few of my tips and recommendations to hopefully help you get the best images possible.

I believe that one of the best pieces of advice I can offer is to never be discouraged by bad weather. Although we all love a walk on a nice sunny day, some of the most photographically interesting and dramatic conditions occur when the sky is covered by clouds or when a storm is brewing. The weather can have a huge impact on landscapes, so be sure to return to your favourite spots at different times in the year to see how much they can change with the seasons.

Ashcombe Mill, South Downs National Park


Ashcombe Mill, South Downs National Park. Photo Credit: Joshua Gray

One of my favourite techniques for shooting impressive landscapes is to combine multiple images to create a panorama. This allows you to show much more of a scene when just one photo isn’t enough to capture the expanse in front of you. Software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom make panoramic images very easy to create nowadays, and if you don’t have access to these most smart phones have a panorama setting which can also produce some very impressive results.

In low light conditions, such as in woodland or during the golden hours of dawn and dusk, try to use a tripod to stabilise your camera. This will help avoid camera shake during the longer shutter speeds that may be required. This can also allow you to experiment with some other techniques such as long exposures to show the movement of a river or astrophotography to capture the beautiful night sky.

Burbage Brook, Peak District National Park

Burbage Brooke, Peak District National Park. Photo Credit: Joshua Gray

Don’t be disheartened if you return home without any image you are particularly happy with, this is bound to happen from time to time. To help avoid this I think it is a good idea to scout out locations beforehand if possible and work out when would be the best time to return to get the shot you want. Think about where the sun will be at different times of the day, some locations will look great at sunrise, others at sunset for example. Make a note of places you want to revisit at another time of the year and see just how different they are during other seasons.

Sunset in the Peak District

Sunset in the Peak District National Park. Photo credit: Joshua Gray

As our truly wild spaces in England and Wales are smaller than ever, promoting the conservation and protection of our National Parks is particularly important. Photography is one of the best ways to share our experiences and encourage others to get out and take in the beauty on offer all year round in our Parks.

Virtually everyone now carries a camera in their pocket and with social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, you can share your photos and stories with the world almost instantly. No matter what your skill level or camera quality, I believe photography is extremely valuable as a conservation tool. So, get out there and shoot and don’t forget to share your images!


Joshua Gray is an award winning photographer, Marine and Natural History Photography Graduate, based in East Sussex.

See more of Joshua’s amazing work here!

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