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

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’.

Image: Early morning, the prairie grass is still heavy with dew. Getting out before the sun always h...

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

Image: I was out early that day to capture the rising sun on the frosty prairie grass when I came fa...

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).

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

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.

Image: Find the extraordinary in the ordinary! This tree stump looked very boring until I got close...

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.

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

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!

Image: Unusual weather conditions, such as snow and fog, can create some interesting images. Don...

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.

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Valerie Jardin

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!

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