One of the most common bits of advice that I’ve heard given to budding new nature photographers is that you don’t have to go far from home to get the best shots. I’ve heard this many times over the years, and I’ve given this same advice on many occasions. All too often I hear people say they’ve given up on nature photography because they don’t live in a place that is exciting enough, or the wildlife is uninteresting, or there are no good enough photo opportunities. To be a successful nature photographer, one has to have an innate appreciation for nature and wildlife, a creative eye for changes in light and weather, and at least a basic understanding of the science of the natural world. Wildlife is everywhere, to varying degrees. One just has to look for it. A determined and inquisitive naturalist can usually find many wondrous things near home – in any environment or location.
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A few days ago, my wife was taking our two little boys for a walk around the lake next to our house in midtown Tallahassee when she spotted a group of fledgeling juvenile green herons among the cypress knees about two minutes from our front door. I’ve never seen baby green herons before, and as many seasoned nature photographers will tell you, the adults can be very difficult to get close enough for a decent shot.
I decided to go and see if they were still there. I was only able to find two, but these little fuzzy-headed herons were adorable! As expected, they were extremely skittish, and I was trying my best to shoot from a distance, and scoot closer and repeat. Because I left the house with only one memory card, I had to sift through some of the shots where my exposure was off and delete them so I could keep shooting. As I was doing this, one of the herons caught a dragonfly and I just barely got a clean shot of it before it went down the hatch.
This is just one instance of how you can find the most interesting and intriguing nature subjects close to home. Many people may not live near a lake, but no place is completely devoid of wildlife – sometimes you might just have to look a little harder. Nature photography can be very hard work, and sometimes it can be very easy. When you have an appreciation for nature and an understanding of how your subject fits into its ecosystem – it becomes very easy to make a photograph that others will admire and appreciate. It’s how you approach your subject and how you want to see it. You are the artist – you make the photo, and without you – the camera is just a piece of equipment.
May 22, 2010
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