Ahhh… summer! It’s the time of year when nature is performing at its peak and we get to experience its pleasures each day. We bask in the warm sun, dip our toes in the creek or ocean, smell the aromatic flowers, and appreciate the stunning sights of nature in full bloom.
Our goal this month is to capture the beauty of nature when it is at its finest. We will have a month of one-a-day photo prompts, plus weekly lessons to help us focus on one element of nature at a time.
Let’s be clear from the start. The purpose of focusing on nature for the month is to learn how to make nature the star of the frame. Sure, we may have our loved ones in the shots as well, but let’s think of them as supporting roles, rather than the main subject.
What can we begin looking for as we gear up for this month? Here are a few tips to get us started.
1. Find the interesting details. I know it’s hard to slow down while hiking on a trail to find neat little details around us, but doing so can create gorgeous photo opportunities and a new appreciation for the intricacy of nature. When you’re outside enjoying the day, spend a few minutes to take in the world from a different view by getting close to a flower or rain droplet, and be amazed by what you can see and photograph!
2. Look for textures, patterns, and symmetry. Nature is chock full of textures, patterns, and symmetry that you may not notice without intentionally looking for it. Tune in to how complex and orderly many parts of nature are, and stop to photograph them!
3. Change your perspective. The most interesting pictures are those that show the viewer something they normally don’t see. Look up, get down low, peek through foliage, anything to create an interesting perspective in your frame.
4. Find movement. Once you start looking for it, you’ll be surprised by how much nature is moving! The gentle breeze in the trees and grass, the sun and clouds making their way across the sky, the little critters scurrying beneath the undergrowth – it’s incredible how much motion is going on!
5. Don’t forget about beautiful light and composition. As always, good light and composition makes or breaks a photo. Find where the dappled light is coming through the tree branches, enjoy the warm glow of golden hour, or notice how leaves change their appearance while being backlit. Take an extra few moments to find the light and compose your shot in a pleasing way.
6. Focus on nature, but allow connection and interaction between it and people. Photographing nature can be even more appealing when we capture people enjoying it. Here is where faceless photos work perfectly, because the focus turns from the person to what he is doing with his surroundings. Some of my favorite photos are those where my boys’ faces are not shown, but their interest and excitement with nature is clearly seen from how they are interacting with it. Frame your shot so that nature takes center stage, but the supporting role of people helps to make the shot even better.
Let’s all challenge ourselves to shift the focus to the incredible beauty of nature this month, and be amazed at all that we find. As always, please share your shots on the Facebook group so that we can all enjoy the different facets of the natural world!
Lesson and Images by Sarah Bednar