A Beginner’s Guide to Nature Photography

Finding your inner photographer is exciting. However, many beginners find themselves overwhelmed with the culture and community that defines photography, especially nature photography.

Finding your inner photographer is exciting. However, many beginners find themselves overwhelmed with the culture and community that defines photography, especially nature photography.

So what are some things you ought to know once you decide you want to pursue photography as a serious hobby?

  • Megapixels: Starting with a camera between 6 and 8 megapixels is ideal for beginners. It’s easy to be tricked into thinking that more megapixels contributes to higher quality photos, but as long as it’s a high quality camera it is actually more efficient to stay within this range.
  • Digital SLR vs Point and Shoot?: A digital SLR camera is a heftier option that offers more advanced settings and albeit higher quality photos. This isn’t usually the best camera to start with as a complete beginner because it’s a pretty serious investment and requires a bit of an education to start using. However, exposure to using a basic point-and-shoot digital camera is good preparation for an eventual upgrade to a digital SLR.
  • Camera settings: On your digital camera, play around with the different settings. On most devices, you’ll find macro, landscape, and portrait. Macro is great for getting up, close, and personal with subjects such as flowers and small animals. Landscape settings are capable of capturing a wide image with a faraway subject.

Get to know yourself and your subject.

  • Do you want to photograph flowers and foliage close up with detail? Are you trying to capture animals in their natural habitat? Are you fascinated with massive landscape images of storms, sunsets, mountain ranges? All of these situations require you to use your camera in a different way.

Two components to consider:

Light

  • Learn how to read the light. Shooting directly into the sun (meaning your subject is “backlit)” is generally misguided. You don’t want distracting shadows, extreme contrast, or light in the animal’s eyes.

Composition

  • What’s the best way to frame your photo? While you shouldn’t restrict your creativity to mathematical regiments, there are basic rules that will keep your composition following basic aesthetic guidelines.
  • Rule of Thirds: Draw 4 sets of lines to equally divided your frame into 9 equally sized rectangles. Where the lines intersect, trying placing your subject at the intersecting points.
  • Attract the eye: If the shot is too “busy,” your viewer will ultimately feel distracted and not enjoy your photograph.

 

I hope this guide gets you started!  Being able to capture the nature world on film (or digital..) is an amazing feeling.

Plus, there’s a big world of photography enthusiasts out there. Plus, now that digital sharing is so popular, like on Flickr, there’s an active community of photographers who are happy to share their skills with amateurs. This article was originally featured on: BrendanTaylorFilice.com

Why Can’t We Just Take a Walk?

Whenever I go anywhere, I see people with their heads down, on their phones.  People are playing Candy Crush, browsing through dating apps, and “Yelping” the best spot for dinner. We’re so addled by our second lives on our iPhone screens. I think most people recognize that it’s a distraction, but because it’s so second-nature, we’ve become complacent.

People nowadays will mock you for being hesitant of technology.  Especially in my millennial demographic, it’s “uncool” to “unplug.”  If you’re sitting with a group of friends at dinner and everyone has their phones out, comparing Instagrams or whatever it is, you feel awkward without a phone.  You awkwardly gaze at everyone, trying to keep up conversation but everyone keeps going back to their phones.  What did people do for fun 15 years ago? We are addicted to technology and this takes us from experiencing our world is scary.

While I worry about the trajectory of social relationships for people in my age group as authentic interaction gets replaced by technology, I try to remind myself that beauty still exists in the world for myself and for whoever dares to embrace it.

My favorite thing to do is to go somewhere – anywhere – without my phone.

This doesn’t sound very revolutionary but for a lot of people this is unthinkable. How will they get to their destination without a map? What about listening to music? What about beating high scores on their game?  What if there’s something they need to photograph and post immediately? Or tweet?

We have to be able to let go of all of these preoccupations.  Why are we controlled by these impulses?  For just a few hours, turn off your phone and go to the library, go to your favorite park, go downtown – and just experience it for what life is.  Observe people as they walk by.  Be conscious of sound – what are people talking about? Do you hear animals? Do you hear machines, too?  There are so many noises that go into our experience that we don’t notice when we have ear buds in.  Breathe deeply – what odors define these places? With every inhale, remind yourself of your purpose.  It’s an awesome way to stay grounded and remind yourself that there’s no need to be on your phone all the time.  Lastly – look around, observe everything in your path.  Let yourself get lost instead of obediently following Google maps.  You can always ask someone for directions (yes, a real person).

My favorite exercise is to jot down what I observe on these strolls.  I always notice that I have more to reflect on when I have a phone-free day compared to days when I’m obsessively on my phone.  What is there to take note of, “Lots of things happened on the Internet today!” compared to “Met gracious strangers, played with two dogs, helped a neighbor with their barbecue.”  Let’s stop caring about the second lives on our screens and remember our real lives in the the very tangible world..start by taking a walk.