The National Geographic Guide to Landscape and Wildlife Photography

Start taking gram-worthy photographs of lions, tigers, and bears. (Dogs, cats, and goldfish are fine, too.)
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getAggregateRating, 45.44ms
  • bvseo-msg: HTTP status code of 404 was returned;
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 14.99ms
  • bvseo-msg: HTTP status code of 404 was returned; HTTP status code of 404 was returned;


National Geographic photographers Michael Melford and Tim Laman reveal their stories and secrets about what makes for great landscape and wildlife photography.


Michael Melford

My gear is very simple, my cameras are simple, my light is simple. I'm here to teach you so that you, too, can make wonderful photographs.


National Geographic Photographer

Michael Melford is an internationally recognized photographer who has worked with National Geographic for more than 30 years. He has produced 19 feature stories for National Geographic magazine and more than 30 stories for National Geographic Traveler. His work also has been featured on the covers of Newsweek, TIME, LIFE, Fortune, Smithsonian, GEO, Travel + Leisure, Travel Holiday, and Coastal Living. Mr. Melford has won recognition from World Press Photo, the International Center of Photography, the Art Director's Club, and numerous other arts organizations and publications. He also has produced photography for eight National Geographic books, including National Geographic Treasures of Alaska: The Last Great American Wilderness and Hidden Alaska: Bristol Bay and Beyond. Mr. Melford teaches photography primarily through National Geographic; he leads one-day seminars around the country through National Geographic Traveler's photo seminar series and travels with National Geographic Expeditions aboard the small ship fleet and on other trips around the world. Learn more about his work at

By This Expert

The National Geographic Guide to Landscape and Wildlife Photography
National Geographic Masters of Photography
Tim Laman

Achieve the right blend of technical skill and artistry, and your photos will really stand out.


National Geographic

Tim Laman is a contributing photographer for National Geographic magazine and a research associate in ornithology at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and has been a regular contributor to National Geographic since 1997, where he has developed a reputation for capturing photographs of nearly impossible subjects.

A fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers, Mr. Laman has constantly pursued his passion for exploring wild places and documenting little-known, endangered wildlife. The major focus of his photographic and scientific research has been the rain forests of Borneo and the Asia-Pacific Region. His numerous National Geographic magazine articles are devoted to promoting awareness of conservation issues, including endangered species (such as orangutans, proboscis monkeys, the Nuku Hiva pigeon, and the wrinkled hornbill) and biodiversity hotspots. Mr. Laman has also published more than a dozen scientific articles on rainforest ecology and birdlife.

Learn more about his work at

By This Expert

The National Geographic Guide to Landscape and Wildlife Photography
The National Geographic Guide to Landscape and Wildlife Photography


Landscape Photographer, Landscape Artist

01: Landscape Photographer, Landscape Artist

Start your photographic adventure by grounding yourself in the essence of great landscape photography. How is it like fly fishing? What artists and photographers have influenced Mr. Melford's own work? What three elements and tools do photographers need to capture breathtaking shots of the natural world?...

30 min
Seeing the Way the Camera Sees

02: Seeing the Way the Camera Sees

Every image in these lectures was captured with equipment found in Mr. Melford's backpack. Peer inside the landscape photographer's bag and discover when to use essential tools including cable releases, different lenses (such as the perfect landscape lens) and polarizing filters (which take the haze out of sky and water)....

26 min
What's in My Bag?

03: What's in My Bag?

Shutter speed, depth of field, and ISO (a camera's sensitivity to light). Discover how these technical concepts work with one another to form the foundation of powerful landscape photos. Also, learn how to "sketch" a shot with your mobile phone to see if it's worth pursuing....

32 min
Four Kinds of Light in Landscapes

04: Four Kinds of Light in Landscapes

Every worthwhile landscape photo has three elements that make it powerful: composition, light, and content. Among the many topics you'll cover in this lecture are compositional aspects (such as leading lines and frames within frames) and the four kinds of light (including diffused light and incremental weather light)....

28 min
Landscape Color Variation and Combinations

05: Landscape Color Variation and Combinations

Colors abound in the natural world, so it's essential for landscape photographers to understand how they mix-and how people respond to them. Taking you to places like Acadia National Park and Adirondack State Park, Mr. Melford shows you how to play with color in your photos....

32 min
Nighttime and Daytime Skyscapes

06: Nighttime and Daytime Skyscapes

Aim your camera upwards with this lesson on shooting the sky during the day and at night. From sun-blocking clouds to the aurora borealis and star trails, you'll learn that shooting the sky (whether from the ground or up in the air) requires anticipation, perseverance, and patience....

30 min
Above- and Below-Surface Waterscapes

07: Above- and Below-Surface Waterscapes

How do expert landscape photographers use water as their subject or as a compositional element? What does it take to capture the dramatic spectacle of a waterfall? Why is ice a great element for finding abstract patterns? How can you take interesting underwater photographs without investing in expensive camera housings?...

30 min
Landscape Photography Site Research

08: Landscape Photography Site Research

Landscape photographs often requires photographers to do their research. In this lecture, take a trip out to the stark majesty of Death Valley and learn how landscape photographers decipher where to find the best potential for images-while leaving themselves open to wandering and uncovering little-known gems....

28 min
Drive-By Photography: Travel Photos

09: Drive-By Photography: Travel Photos

When you're traveling by car, boat, or plane, you're often not in control of what you can photograph. However, you can still use the photographer's expert eye to get interesting shots. Journey with Mr. Melford to fascinating international locales and learn how to turn impossible situations into rewarding challenges....

31 min
Computer Editing: Review and Cataloging

10: Computer Editing: Review and Cataloging

With digital photography, once you've captured the image your work is only half finished. In the first of two lectures on editing photographs on your computer, learn how to catalog your photos, how to organize them for easy access, and (most important of all) how to be a ruthless self-editor....

31 min
Computer Editing: Development

11: Computer Editing: Development

Continue learning how photographers use computer editing software to make sure photos look their best. You'll learn tips, tricks, and shortcuts for working with important development tools like the dehaze filter, hue saturation, the histogram, and color and contrast....

30 min
Five Ideas for Successful Landscape Photos

12: Five Ideas for Successful Landscape Photos

Mr. Melford leaves you with five all-important ideas on making sure the next landscape photos you take are unforgettable ones. Using more work from his extensive portfolio, he shares inspirational advice on finding your own style, surrounding yourself with art, and getting out there into the natural world....

31 min
Wildlife Photography

13: Wildlife Photography

Start the second half of the course with Mr. Laman, who introduces you to the varied skills mastered by all great wildlife photographers. First up: a journey to the rainforests of Borneo in search of African hornbills that illustrates the practical aspects you have to figure out before taking that perfect shot....

36 min
Photographing Winter Wildlife

14: Photographing Winter Wildlife

Winter weather offers a stunning environment in which to photograph wild animals. Comb through Mr. Laman's shots of snow monkeys, cranes, and other animals to glean the technical aspects of shooting outdoors in the winter, including honing your focusing skills and capturing the drama of a snow storm....

30 min
Photographing Island Wildlife

15: Photographing Island Wildlife

Head to the Galapagos Islands and experience what it's like to photograph wildlife like crabs, iguanas, and sea lions. Key takeaways you'll learn include anticipating an animal's peak moment of behavior, tapping into the power of the "golden hour" of light, and using bad weather to make photos more interesting....

26 min
Nighttime Wildlife Photography

16: Nighttime Wildlife Photography

Stop being afraid of the dark and discover the wonders of photographing nocturnal animals like bats, lizards, owls, insects, and lemurs. How can you use shadows to add drama to a shot? How can you refine your lighting technique to capture the background as well as your subject?...

30 min
Documenting Biodiversity

17: Documenting Biodiversity

Follow Mr. Laman as he documents birds and monkeys during a trip to the Amazon rainforest. This lecture on shooting with big lenses (essential tools of wildlife photography) also introduces you to specialized tripods, as well as image stabilizers that help photographers capture sharp pictures at low shutter speeds....

30 min
Photographing Life in the Sea

18: Photographing Life in the Sea

Get a primer in underwater photography as another form of wildlife photography that requires you to adapt to a unique set of circumstances. You'll learn how light works underwater, why you should be careful using flash, and why particular shots of underwater fauna work so well....

31 min
Camera Traps for Elusive Wildlife

19: Camera Traps for Elusive Wildlife

What does it take to shoot in a wet, muddy environment like the mangroves? How does a wildlife photographer set out to photograph an elusive animal? Find out in this lecture on remote control photography and camera traps-and some of the surprising results they can give you....

30 min
Antarctica: A Photographer's Paradise

20: Antarctica: A Photographer's Paradise

Discover what makes Antarctica such a visual wonderland for wildlife photographers. King penguins massed along an iceberg; wandering albatrosses in mid-flight; Mr. Laman reveals the trade secrets of how he manages to snag these and other dynamic shots in the midst of such a white, snowy environment....

27 min
Photography on the Road

21: Photography on the Road

Learn how to navigate the pros and cons of photographing wildlife from the safety (and constriction) of a vehicle. You'll visit one of the most sparsely populated regions of Australia and follow a photographic expedition that brings you up close and personal with wildlife, including the rare Golden Shouldered Parrot....

27 min
Orangutans: Photographing Animal Communities

22: Orangutans: Photographing Animal Communities

Join Mr. Laman for an eye-opening encounter with some of our closest relatives: orangutans. Follow him as he tries different techniques for capturing images of these animals eating, playing, fighting, and nesting. It's a lecture that highlights why there's always room to strive for improvement in wildlife photography....

32 min
Birds of Paradise: Ultimate Photo Challenge

23: Birds of Paradise: Ultimate Photo Challenge

Comb through more than eight years of photos from Mr. Laman's most ambitious project: photographing all 39 species of birds of paradise in the wild. As you'll learn in this adventure story, one of the most important aspects of wildlife photography is appreciating the sheer joy of the pursuit....

31 min
Getting Your Best Wildlife Photo

24: Getting Your Best Wildlife Photo

Finish the course with three different experiences capturing photos of exotic birds-from their perspective. Along the way, learn how everything you've explored in previous lectures comes together to produce what Mr. Laman considers some of the best images he'll ever make....

33 min