Guest Article – Darwin Wiggett

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.

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8 Responses to Guest Article – Darwin Wiggett

  1. Pingback: New Articles « Darwin Wiggett

  2. Victor says:

    Hi Darwin,

    I see what you are getting at and agree with your ideas, except one. There are no inspiring or uninspiring locales. But there scenes which are easy to shoot For instance, lets compare mountain and thick flat forest landscapes.

    In the mountains it’s easier to separate objects, there many solitary tress, stones and lakes which you could choose as a main object of your shoot. While in the forest it’s difficult to find separate objects.

    In addition, there are locations with uncertain or stable weather. I think photographers who live in regions with uncertain weather have more varieties of scenes and that is why opportunities to take different pictures.

    But of course I don’t say that it’s impossible to take picturesque photos in uninspiring locales, it’s just a bit difficult.

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  6. Angel says:

    I want to go to a good college to get a degree in Perfesional Photography. I love seeing whats out there and seeing things that most people dont have a chace to see. I highly recomend that you visit Neah Bay Washington. I lived there for 5 years and I know that traveling to the cape and taking that hike is the most memorable things ive done. I admire your work.

    Angel Shaw

  7. I keep telling people LOVE is the key to great photography. If you love and appreciate your subject, you see it in a truly beautiful perspective. The camera can only see as well as it’s operator. You of course should also learn to master the technical details, but LOVE is still the key, the language of photography, and will be what helps you find a great subject no matter where you are.

    May the gods of photography smile upon you all.

    Roman Johnston

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