Darwin Wiggett and I have decided to trade posts this week. Darwin is one of the premier Landscape photographers in Canada and a great guy to boot! Today, Darwin shares his insights on how to make great photographs in one’s backyard.
How to Create Great Nature Photos No Matter Where You Live
The two most common excuses I hear for a weak portfolio of nature photos is that the photographer doesn’t own the ‘best gear’ and that the photographer lives far away from any area of scenic beauty. Neither of these excuses is valid. I know many photographers using old or inexpensive cameras, and living in less than inspiring locales that consistently create wonderful nature photos close to home. In the end, photography is about seeing the potential of your surroundings. You don’t need to go to exotic destinations or visit a national park to get great nature photos. The next great image is as close as your backyard.
- Give Yourself an Assignment
At least once a month I give myself a photographic assignment to stretch my ability to see. For example, recently I gave myself the assignment, “Walks with Brando”. When I am home, I walk my dog, Brando, three times a day. In the past I enjoyed my time walking the streets of my hometown with the dog. Now I always take my little Canon G9 point-n-shoot and document the bits of nature I see here and there. Surprisingly there is always something to capture and the dog like the fact that I take longer walks!
- Get Outside
A lot of nature photographers shut off their shooting eyes when they are on home turf and often turn to mindless entertainment (e.g. TV, the internet, or video games) to unwind after a day at work. Instead of these activities, I recommend grabbing your camera gear and going to the local park, or visiting a greenhouse, a city garden or even a zoo. All of these places offer so much potential for fantastic images. Much of my personal best work has been captured while on evening outings to these local spots close to home. Once you are out, and immersed in photography, time and worries just melt away. What a great way to spend an evening and you will usually add several strong images to your portfolio!
- Go for a Drive
If you want a change from your immediate surroundings and need a mini getaway, then take a drive in the country. No matter where you live in Canada there will be little pockets of natural beauty nearby that are worth shooting. Most cities are surrounded by agricultural areas that can be surprisingly beautiful if you are open to ‘seeing’ them. And near most Canadian cities there are natural areas or provincial parks that hide an oasis of natural beauty. These spots are wonderful weekend day destinations that will help fill out your portfolio of stunning imagery.
- Open your Mind
The biggest stumbling block for many photographers is the ability to see the potential in the common and the everyday. Most people need to be exposed to new and exciting places to get creative stimulation. At home, everything is the same old, same old. We need to retrain ourselves to see our local surroundings the way a visitor would see them. This takes practice but can be achieved by imposing self-assignments, getting outside and actually ‘looking’ and visiting local spots with your camera. Do this regularly and you will create a powerful new body of work from your own backyard.