What do I look for on a Photo Walk? Part II – Walk in Nature

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Many of you enjoyed reading part I, City Walks. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject, keep the comments and suggestions coming!

I live within minutes from a very large metropolitan area yet I have an abundant wildlife in my own backyard with deer, raccoons, foxes and coyotes. Although I do love cities, especially architecture and street photography, I am also in love with nature and I never get tired of photographing it. Once again, I have more of a telephoto eye than wide angle vision when it comes to nature. When on a photo walk I still usually limit myself to one lens. I have my favorite ones but, if I go back to the same place over and over again, I find it more interesting to see through a different lens once in a while.

So what do I look for when shooting in nature? Once again, there will be triggers that will attract me to certain things. The quality of light falling on a scene will definitely be the most prevalent trigger. I don’t mind getting up before dawn once in a while because I know there will be a reward. The soft light of the rising sun is such a treat for a nature photographer. Early morning is also the best time to photograph some wildlife hunting for breakfast… Evenings are also a preferred time to shoot, try to get out during the ‘golden hour’.

Early morning, the prairie grass is still heavy with dew. Getting out before the sun always has its rewards!

I was out early that day to capture the rising sun on the frosty prairie grass when I came face to face with this beautiful fox hunting for her breakfast. What a lucky encounter that was!

Another trigger will be colors. I love isolating my subject with a wide aperture. I also enjoy photographing contrasting colors. Rainy or overcast days give us brilliant greens and yellows but the sky can be very boring. Here is a tip: If the sky doesn’t have anything interesting (if it’s plain grey or blue), keep it out of the frame (unless you want to spend time in post processing and replace it with a more interesting sky, which I don’t).

If the sky is boring (plain grey or blue) keep it out of the frame!

If your photo walks take you to the same park over and over again, try experimenting with different lenses or techniques. Why not try a special effect lens such as a Lensbaby Composer or do some HDR for a change of pace. If you only have one lens, another idea is to find something really interesting and try photographing from every possible angle. Why not tell a story by capturing a landscape from the same exact location but at different seasons?

Find the extraordinary in the ordinary. Isolate your subject by experimenting with shallow depth of field and create a more interesting image.

Find the extraordinary in the ordinary! This tree stump looked very boring until I got close and used a shallow depth of field to make it look more mysterious... Shot with a 50 mm f/1.8.

Macro photography is a wonderful way to see the natural world, even if you only have a few minutes to get out and shoot, your own backyard becomes an amazing place to photograph.

Macro photography lets you discover a whole new world in your own backyard!

If you see a flower or any other interesting detail in nature, don’t just take a picture and leave. Walk around it, pay attention to the quality of light from different angles. Lay on the ground to look at it from a different perspective. If you only shoot at eye level you will get very boring pictures.

If the weather is unusual, get out and shoot. For example, we hardly ever have foggy conditions around here, fog in a snowy landscape can be tricky to shoot but what an opportunity! I got out for an hour and came back with something new! Same with rainy days, protect your gear and get out there!

Unusual weather conditions, such as snow and fog, can create some interesting images. Don't be afraid to get out in bad weather, just protect your gear and yourself from the elements!

I could go on and on but the point is to get out and shoot. Even if you don’t have the luxury of having several different lenses, don’t let it stop you from experimenting with light and composition. Any basic point-and-shoot camera is capable of creating amazing images, you just have to see the world around you and the photo opportunities it offers.  There will be good photo days and bad photo days but every time you shoot you will learn something new and you will get better.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Valerie Jardin I live and breathe in pixels! Photography is more than a passion, it's an obsession, almost an addiction. When I'm not shooting or writing, I spend my time teaching this beautiful craft during photo workshops all over the world! I am also thrilled to be an official X Photographer for Fujifilm USA. Visit my Website Follow me on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram. And listen to my Podcast!

  • Hi

    Great article – I always like to carry a full complement of lenses with me – you never know what might pop up. I just hate kicking myself for not being prepared. My go to landscape lens is a 10-20mm Sigma. I also like the Nikkor 70-200 f2.8.

    Some cool shots of Hoar Frost from Down Under! (wide angle)

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/onward-to-mt-aspiring/

  • Excellent points to consider on my next walk. I just bought a 15-85 lens for my Canon 60D and am looking forward to getting out and seeing what it can do.

  • wow what a great capture that fox was lucky you. beautiful pictures and a great article

  • I’ve been going out for walks (mostly right around noon, for the most horrific possible light) in the area around my office for more than a year now and I’m still finding things to photograph. Most of the pictures in this set, for instance, were shot within about a mile of where I’m currently sitting.

    People look at you a bit oddly when you go out walking when it’s -5 degrees F (about -20 degrees C), but if you’re dressed correctly, you can get some interesting photos.

  • Nice read. I was just having a conversation about this the other day. I find myself capturing contrasting colors in my scenes but sometimes fail to pay attention to the sky. I then spend time trying to create a fake sky when I could’ve just eliminated the sky as a whole in order to concentrate more on the subject that caught my eye in the first place. Love the winter shot. I live in Orlando and rarely ever get a chance to shoot in the snowy conditions. Looking forward to some fall and winter shots next year on vacations.
    Cheers,
    Matt

  • So simple: If the sky is boring (plain grey or blue) keep it out of the frame! Yet Brilliant.

  • Jacqueline

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article and your beautiful photos. One thing I do to find new shots in the same place is to ask, “What is here that I haven’t seen before?” Sometimes it’s something I haven’t noticed at all but more often than not, I see things in a new way that creates a new and interesting photo.

  • Keli

    So beautiful! How I would LOVE to live somewhere like that!

  • Mei Teng

    Beautiful photos! 🙂 I wish I have the luxury of seeing wildlife in my backyard.

  • Mark

    Living on a lake, at the bottom of a ski resort, out in the country, I couldn’t think of a better place to be. No matter how many times I venture past the same spots, they’re never the same. Even though the area is limited, the photo opportunities are limitless.

  • GradyPhilpott

    Very good tips. Thanks.

  • Hi

    I love the portion of the article about not just seeing something, taking a shot and leaving! When something looks good at first glance, you can be almost certain it will look great at second and third. Try different angles, lenses, filters, take your time and absorb the beauty. It will show in your images!

    For this shot, I had to move to just the right spot to get the sunlight streaks! But I think those make the image!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/a-steamy-stream/

  • folkmoot78

    I can lose myself for hours walking through the woods with my camera.
    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/53226572@N03/5791001169/’ title=’Sunburst’ url=’http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2706/5791001169_45efd484ab.jpg’]

  • I am a beginner and take my camera with me when I walk my dog…it is truly amazing what is out there. Thank you for your tips, especially the one about the boring sky. The link below are some of the shots I’ve taken on our walks.

    http://gallery.me.com/mairi.marquart#100047&bgcolor=black&view=grid

  • ScottC

    Another great article and beautiful photos as well.

    I live in a small town of 60,000, and there are some beautiful areas nearby. I look for color as well.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5716246486/

  • After falling into a lake with my Canon, I simply can’t bring myself to take the camera out into the rain. I know I am missing magnificent shots, but I don’t know how to do it! Plastic bags? Underwater stuff? I do have a waterproof Olympus that I could use but the quality won’t be as good. But I should probably try that anyhow. I enjoyed this article.

  • Andree:

    If you’re especially worried about the rain, you can use something like this:

    http://optechusa.com/rainsleeve.html

    It’s kind of silly looking, but it will keep your camera dry.

  • @Doug: thank you! I have ordered it. And it is inexpensive: two for seven dollars. Great deal!

  • Thanks for suggestion Doug. I am also writing a review for a different model of camera cover, watch the dPS posts over the next few days.

  • momo

    Very nice article! Inspiring and motivating!

  • Thanks Doug, a very interesting and helpful article- I particularly like your comment – Find the extraordinary in the ordinary – it makes you consider things outside of the box.

  • Sc Puri

    Nice tips. I always look for colors and contrast on my walks. Pre dawn walk I really need to venture.

Some Older Comments

  • Sc Puri October 2, 2012 03:43 pm

    Nice tips. I always look for colors and contrast on my walks. Pre dawn walk I really need to venture.

  • Lori Coremin July 12, 2011 12:38 pm

    http://thousandwordsphotonj.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=130293734

    http://thousandwordsphotonj.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=130289312

    http://thousandwordsphotonj.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=130289319

    http://thousandwordsphotonj.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=130868513

  • Dave Rombach June 13, 2011 01:54 am

    Thanks Doug, a very interesting and helpful article- I particularly like your comment - Find the extraordinary in the ordinary - it makes you consider things outside of the box.

  • momo June 12, 2011 12:50 am

    Very nice article! Inspiring and motivating!

  • Aparna E. June 11, 2011 06:53 am

    I always look for color and textures :)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/aechempati/4869088902/in/set-72157618386345787
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/aechempati/5183307544/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/aechempati/4839897698/

  • Valerie Jardin June 10, 2011 11:55 pm

    Thanks for suggestion Doug. I am also writing a review for a different model of camera cover, watch the dPS posts over the next few days.

  • Andree June 10, 2011 11:48 pm

    @Doug: thank you! I have ordered it. And it is inexpensive: two for seven dollars. Great deal!

  • Doug Sundseth June 10, 2011 11:36 pm

    Andree:

    If you're especially worried about the rain, you can use something like this:

    http://optechusa.com/rainsleeve.html

    It's kind of silly looking, but it will keep your camera dry.

  • Andree June 10, 2011 09:27 pm

    After falling into a lake with my Canon, I simply can't bring myself to take the camera out into the rain. I know I am missing magnificent shots, but I don't know how to do it! Plastic bags? Underwater stuff? I do have a waterproof Olympus that I could use but the quality won't be as good. But I should probably try that anyhow. I enjoyed this article.

  • ScottC June 10, 2011 02:11 pm

    Another great article and beautiful photos as well.

    I live in a small town of 60,000, and there are some beautiful areas nearby. I look for color as well.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5716246486/

  • Mairi June 10, 2011 01:35 pm

    I am a beginner and take my camera with me when I walk my dog...it is truly amazing what is out there. Thank you for your tips, especially the one about the boring sky. The link below are some of the shots I've taken on our walks.

    http://gallery.me.com/mairi.marquart#100047&bgcolor=black&view=grid

  • folkmoot78 June 10, 2011 11:59 am

    I can lose myself for hours walking through the woods with my camera.
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/53226572@N03/5791001169/' title='Sunburst' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2706/5791001169_45efd484ab.jpg']

  • Erik Kerstenbeck June 10, 2011 11:52 am

    Hi

    I love the portion of the article about not just seeing something, taking a shot and leaving! When something looks good at first glance, you can be almost certain it will look great at second and third. Try different angles, lenses, filters, take your time and absorb the beauty. It will show in your images!

    For this shot, I had to move to just the right spot to get the sunlight streaks! But I think those make the image!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/a-steamy-stream/

  • GradyPhilpott June 10, 2011 11:10 am

    Very good tips. Thanks.

  • Mark June 10, 2011 11:03 am

    Living on a lake, at the bottom of a ski resort, out in the country, I couldn't think of a better place to be. No matter how many times I venture past the same spots, they're never the same. Even though the area is limited, the photo opportunities are limitless.

  • Mei Teng June 10, 2011 10:54 am

    Beautiful photos! :) I wish I have the luxury of seeing wildlife in my backyard.

  • Keli June 10, 2011 09:22 am

    So beautiful! How I would LOVE to live somewhere like that!

  • Jacqueline June 10, 2011 09:21 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article and your beautiful photos. One thing I do to find new shots in the same place is to ask, "What is here that I haven't seen before?" Sometimes it's something I haven't noticed at all but more often than not, I see things in a new way that creates a new and interesting photo.

  • Terri June 10, 2011 07:56 am

    So simple: If the sky is boring (plain grey or blue) keep it out of the frame! Yet Brilliant.

  • Matt Lehman June 10, 2011 07:43 am

    Nice read. I was just having a conversation about this the other day. I find myself capturing contrasting colors in my scenes but sometimes fail to pay attention to the sky. I then spend time trying to create a fake sky when I could've just eliminated the sky as a whole in order to concentrate more on the subject that caught my eye in the first place. Love the winter shot. I live in Orlando and rarely ever get a chance to shoot in the snowy conditions. Looking forward to some fall and winter shots next year on vacations.
    Cheers,
    Matt

  • Doug Sundseth June 10, 2011 07:21 am

    I've been going out for walks (mostly right around noon, for the most horrific possible light) in the area around my office for more than a year now and I'm still finding things to photograph. Most of the pictures in this set, for instance, were shot within about a mile of where I'm currently sitting.

    People look at you a bit oddly when you go out walking when it's -5 degrees F (about -20 degrees C), but if you're dressed correctly, you can get some interesting photos.

  • LAURA LOK June 10, 2011 07:06 am

    wow what a great capture that fox was lucky you. beautiful pictures and a great article

  • Luke June 10, 2011 06:52 am

    Excellent points to consider on my next walk. I just bought a 15-85 lens for my Canon 60D and am looking forward to getting out and seeing what it can do.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck June 10, 2011 06:00 am

    Hi

    Great article - I always like to carry a full complement of lenses with me - you never know what might pop up. I just hate kicking myself for not being prepared. My go to landscape lens is a 10-20mm Sigma. I also like the Nikkor 70-200 f2.8.

    Some cool shots of Hoar Frost from Down Under! (wide angle)

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/onward-to-mt-aspiring/

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