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Photographing Mother Nature’s Offerings
There are certain scenic views that leave you in awe no matter how many times you return to photograph. Whether it’s rounding the bend north out of Jackson Hole and seeing the Teton Range, hiking to the edge of many pullouts along the trail in Canyonlands National Park, walking through a field of wildflowers in July in the Colorado high country or walking the beaches of the Oregon coast, I’ll always be amazed by the beauty and wonder of each landform. I like to think that each is a gift from Mother Nature. If you’ve experienced a similar feeling, and I hope you have, you know what I mean.
As is the case for many locations, the more often I go, the more I fall in love. I discover a different angle, explore new trails, experiment with different times of the day, and make a conscious effort to not replicate what I’ve photographed in the past. I push myself to find something new so I become a better photographer. On each outing, I try to find a unique twist on what Mother Nature has to offer. This brings me closer to the pulse of the area, which allows me to dial into the location in a more profound way. I like to view it as each location lets me borrow a slice in time. Each slice becomes a new photo. The moment may last a fraction of a second or maybe even a few if it’s dawn or dusk. Either way, it’s a small passage of time for a gift so grand. Just maybe, one of those gifts may turn out strong enough to hang on my wall. I then get to visit my gift every time I pass it in my home.
The gifts from nature may be large or small, grand or intimate. They can be a sprawling landscape or a regal animal standing in an open field. Sometimes they’re found on a smaller scale and require a bit more looking. A number are discovered via the use of a macro lens where a flower fills the frame. Their size is irrelevant. Appreciate every one you’re bestowed. Rainbows may await you, dramatic light may be a sunrise or sunset away, a frozen classic expression of an animal may be just around the bend or an action-stopping moment may be in the cards. Whenever you’re granted one of these moments, quietly extend your thanks before you depart. Karma shows respect and gives again each time you do the right thing.
If wildlife is your focus, learn the behavior of the subjects. The more you learn their habits, the more you’ll be able to predict behavior and capture that opportune moment. When animals display interaction, it makes for a more intriguing image than if the animal simply stands in a location. When a single subject takes off, begins a sprint, flaps its wings, pounces upon prey or performs any other behavior, this type of image makes for a more exciting photograph. Be cognizant of the background so the subject pops off the page. Be aware of the light so it complements the subject. Familiarize yourself with photographic techniques so you can attain proper exposures and out-of-focus backgrounds.
If you love scenics, be sure you’re out early and late in the day. In the morning, start at dawn, transition into first light and then segue into morning illumination. Look for unique lighting conditions. Walk around the area to discover new and intriguing angles. Don’t overlook the intimate landscape of a single flower, an iconic tree that stands alone, fallen fall-colored leaves, etc.
Mother Nature has provided every nature photographer some amazing canvases in addition to showing us amazing situations with wildlife. Treat her right and she will keep providing.
To learn more about this subject, join me on a photo safari to Tanzania. Visit www.russburdenphotography.com to get more information.