Derek Nielsen Photography

Derek Nielsen Photography

Uncategorized Tree Landscape Photography For Your Home Gallery
large framed fine art print of twisting aspen trees in Telluride Colorado displayed above the couch of a modern home

Tree landscape photography is one of my favorite subjects. Using trees as the main subject presents a creative challenge. Each tree is unique, like a fingerprint, and the artist’s job is to make something beautiful out of a single tree or an entire forest. Let’s dive into why trees make for great fine art photography prints and work so well in interior design. 

The Art Of Tree Photography.

large panoramic image of a bright red maple standing out in a forest reflected perfectly by a still pond in the Pacific Northwest
Be Different – Limited Edition Fine Art Print of 6 – Derek Nielsen Photography

Dense forests full of fresh air are the perfect escape into nature. They are also a playground for photographic composition. So, what makes a great fine art photography print? Trees are a symbol of nature in its most pure form. Tree photos that make for popular fine art landscape photography prints fall into a few main categories. 

  • The Lone Tree – A single resilient tree standing alone in an open field
  • Dense Forest – Thick, lush forest full of dense vegetation
  • Abstract Tree Details – Zooming in on the details of a feature, such as bark, leaves, or roots. 
  • Tunnels – Capturing the natural tunnels trees make over roads or paths. 
  • Perspective – Photographing trees from below or above to give the viewer different perspectives of a familiar subject. 
  • Seasonal Colors – Using the changing seasons to show the beauty of trees in different seasons. 

Tree Landscape Photography For Interior Design.

photo of a forest full of green ferns and pine trees displayed in the living room interior design of a luxury home

Subjects for interior design can be polarizing, making them risky for interior design subjects in public spaces. Trees, however, are the perfect way to bring elements of nature inside while creating a sophisticated look. High quality images of the natural world make any home, office, or hotel setting inviting for all. Tree photography prints work well to create a soothing, relaxing environment. 

Camera Settings For Tree Photography.

image of photographer Derek Nielsen walking in a golden forest inside Olympic National Park

Picking the “perfect” camera setting for tree landscape photography is challenging because of the variety of subjects. The first thing you need to consider is what kind of image you are trying to achieve. From there, we can move towards finding the best settings. When photographing a full forest, our depth of field will be our best and worst enemy. Too many distracting elements in your composition turn a peaceful scene into a chaotic one. Start with f/8 and move up or down from there. 

We want to capture as many details as possible to give the viewer the feeling of being there. I prefer using a shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second to freeze any motion, making everything as sharp as possible. Also, a tripod should be brought to capture as much of the natural light filtered by the forest canopy as possible. Focus stacking is a perfect choice for those looking to create a hyper-real feel of sharpness from foreground to background.  

Use a polarizing filter to cut down on the reflections on the leaves. 

Best Lenses For Tree Landscape Photography

Derek Nielsen Photography's camera and lens in the Olympic National Park photographing trees

The end look and artistic message a photographer is trying to achieve will dictate what lens to use, but these three options will cover 99% of the shots anyone is looking to take. 

  • Wide angle lens – When trying to capture the scale of a tree, an environmental portrait, or a different perspective, wide angle lenses are the best place to start. They bring us into the scene as if we were there. 
  • Telephoto lens – If we are looking to capture the details of a particular tree or a unique feature, telephoto lenses give us the artistic flexibility to zoom in closer to the harder-to-reach places. It can isolate a lone colorful leaf or compress a grove against a background from a long distance. 
  • Macro lens – For those looking to take the deals of a tree to the extreme, a macro lens highlights a world most of us never see. From the cellular veins of a leaf to the cracks and crevasses of a tree bark, macro lenses wildly change our perspective. 

Lone Trees And Solo Trees Popularity In Art.

Very large framed fine art print of a lone tree on San Juan Island in the Pacific Northwest displayed in a luxury home
Morning Mist – Limited Edition Fine Art Print of 1 – Derek Nielsen Photography

An individual tree standing alone in a field is a subject that plays over and over again in landscape photography. They give us a sense of resilience and perseverance. This popular subject shows up in farm fields across the world and the grasslands of Africa. Play with the landscape composition, placing the tree in various parts of the frame. As a fine art landscape photographer, I have been fascinated by the solo tree for decades.  

What Are The Tallest Trees In The World?

Image of photographer Derek Nielsen hugging one of the largest trees in the world

One can hardly wrap one’s head around the size and age of Coastal Redwoods. They can reach a mind-bending size of 370 feet tall and have lived for more than 700 years, with estimates of some living more than 2000 years. A near neighbor to the north lives the Douglas Fir, an American species reaching over 280 feet tall. However, taking the number two spot in the world is a tree called Menara. Located in Sabah, Malaysia, this Yellow Meranti stands 331 feet high.  

Forest Photography For Mental Health.

large unframed print of the forest in Olympic National Park displayed in the living room of a luxury apartment
Pure Olympic – Limited Edition Fine Art Print of 6 – Derek Nielsen Photography

Humans are a part of nature, whether we want to believe it or not. We have an internal biological need to interact with other living things, such as plants or animals, which is called biophilia. Even viewing tree photographs and other natural spaces lowers our blood pressure and stimulates a positive chemical response inside our bodies. Science tells us one of the easiest ways to reduce our stress is to surround ourselves with nature, even if they are just photos. The importance of trees to keep us alive cannot be stressed enough, but how they make us feel should also not go unnoticed. 

Pictures Of Trees In Different Seasons.

image of a beautiful mountain cabin on a lake in Telluride Colorado with fall colors
Mountain Oasis – Limited Edition Fine Art Print of 6 – Derek Nielsen Photography

Trees are the perfect subject to return to during different seasons to capture their transformations. Each season presents a unique opportunity. 

  • Spring – Is the rebirth season for trees, a new beginning after a cold winter in many parts of the world. Flowering trees explode with color for a short period of time, making delicate, warm photographs. 
  • Summer—This is when trees are at their full density. A forest of trees glows a vibrant green in the early mornings, making for crisp, refreshing landscape photos. 
  • Fall – Explosions of color wrap the deciduous forest in shades of yellow, red, and orange. Mountain aspens erupt in a golden color, creating dreamy landscapes. Fall colors sell very well in the fine art world. 
  • Winter—Don’t put the camera away in winter. Pine trees after fresh snow create soft, quiet scenes. As a nature photographer, I find winter to be one of my favorite times of the year to play in the forest. 
dramatically beautiful fall winter scene outside of Telluride Colorado at sunrise
Wonderland – Limited Edition Fine Art Print of 6 – Derek Nielsen Photography

Black And White Tree Photography.

Trees lend themselves well to black-and-white photography. When color is eliminated from our view, details stand out more. All trees have wonderful detail in their bark and leaves. Texture becomes the main emphasis. Contrasting light dances through the forest all day from pockets of light making their way down to the forest floor from holes in the canopy. Black-and-white photography is timeless. If any species on earth seems to make time stand still while still living a full life, it’s a tree. 

The Best Forest For Tree Landscape Photography.

Image of golden aspen trees against a deep blue sky taken in Telluride Colorado

From a landscape photographer’s perspective, old-growth forests and Aspen forests are the best choices. Old-growth forests have so much character. They tend to have large trees with multi-layered canopies, creating wonderful depth in a photo. These forests also usually have a lot of wildlife and endangered species. Decaying ground matter and canopy openings give old-growth forests an added level of complexity without being cluttered with undergrowth. There is so much history in them, channel that while photographing them. 

Aspen forests are a favorite amongst landscape photographers. The linear vertical lines of white bark allow for appealing prints. In addition, during fall, Aspens become a firework display of color. Very few species of trees put on a show like the aspens do. Also, many of them are found in mountainous regions, so their environmental canvas is usually as breathtaking as the tree itself. 

Maple trees are a close second for me as a fine art photographer. Not because they are any less beautiful but because their environment is less dramatic than the Quaking Aspens. The best locations to see them are the Greater New England region, Michigan, and Wisconsin. 

Our Love For Aspen Trees.

Large framed print of a deer running in front of aspen trees displayed in the living room of a modern home

Because I listed them as the best tree to photograph, I’ll fortify my argument with its own section. Quaking Aspens, or simply aspens, are found throughout the American West. They grow in landscapes typically dominated by large groves of coniferous trees, making their beautiful fall colors stand out even more against the landscape. When they begin to shed their leaves, the forest floor echoes the golden colors of the canopy above, virtually overstimulating the senses. Aspen’s smooth white bark is a beautiful contrast to the green or colorful leaves. 

Trees Deep Connections To Humans.

totem poles are shown in fall colors in Vancouver

Think about this: We identify our family’s historical lineage on a “family tree.” The roots and trunk symbolize our foundation and central pillars, while the branches and leaves identify the individuals. We feed each other. Trees provide humans with oxygen, and we provide them with carbon dioxide. So many of our advances as a human species depend on trees for their materials. Paper for books advancing our education, religious beliefs, or letters to one another. Wood for instruments that stimulate our brains and bring us entertainment. We have needed trees since our existence, from building materials to spears for hunting. Trees have provided for humans spiritually, emotionally, environmentally, and scientifically, making them one of mankind’s greatest partners throughout history. 

Explore Tree Landscape Photography For All Its Benefits.

Fall colors in Michigan in a beautiful array of colors
Scattering – Limited Edition Fine Art Print of 6 – Derek Nielsen Photography

It is hard to deny how wonderful a day off exploring the woods makes us feel. Getting out into nature and using your camera to bring it to a wider audience helps people appreciate the beauty of this planet. My conservationist side knows just how important it is to create more ambassadors for this planet through art and storytelling. Take what you learned in this article, including the inspiration inside the photos themselves, and go create beautiful art to share with the world. I have never regretted a day spent in the woods. For more tips on nature and wildlife photography or articles about the business of luxury fine art photography, check out our News section for continued educational articles. 

Derek with a penguin

Hello! I'm Derek.