Photographs can capture the emotion and simple beauty of nature. Whether it’s a photo of a beautiful landscape or a graceful animal, you want your photos to immerse the viewer in the moment, to share your awe.
5 Great Local Photography Spots to Check Out
- Your backyard – you might be surprised what wildlife ventures into your backyard. Spend some time in the early morning hours or evening to walk around your yard and see what tiny critters or interesting patterns might be available for you to take a photo of. Put up a bird feeder to attract some birds or create some wildlife habitat to encourage wildlife to come into your yard.
- Vicksburg National Military Park – with lots of land and several nature trails, the military park can provide some great vistas and if you’re lucky, some wildlife cameos as well. Don’t forget that the park requires a permit, so stop by the visitor’s center to get one as well as to let someone know where you are going and when you will return.
- Eagle Lake – the sunsets on the lake are just stunning and during migration there are lots of birds around to take photos of.
- Along the Mississippi River – if you go down to one of the parks along the river or a bridge over the river, you’re more likely to see some wildlife or interesting vistas.
- Natchez Trace Parkway – about an hour from Tara, this roadway has lots of places to stop and walk the old trail. You never know what wildlife and landscapes you might find along the Trace.
Your Cell Phone Camera – A Great Way to Start
Today’s mobile phones have amazing cameras. If that is all you have with you or how you want to start to test your interest in nature photography, then go for it! You might be surprised about the quality of the images you can capture.
Try out some filters, use the grid overlay, and see what types of shots work well using your mobile device. This is a great tool to use when you don’t want to carry a bunch of camera equipment with you – perhaps when you’re on a nature hike for fun or if you happen to just get lucky and stumble upon the perfect spot for a photo.
If you’re using your cell phone for a photo, make sure it is on the HD setting to get the highest quality photo. On the iPhone, there is a grid overlay that you can turn on to help you follow the rule of thirds on your photos. You can even purchase additional lenses, a tripod, and other equipment for your phone’s camera, if you really want to get serious about it.
Quick Tips for Beginners
- Bring a tripod! If you want to take a macro shot, use a telephoto lens over 300mm, or if you have unsteady hands, having a tripod along will be your lifesaver.
- Take lots of photos! Digital photography is great. You can take as many photos as you want and delete those that don’t come out well. This is a great way to see what types of settings, compositions, and camera angles you prefer.
- Join an online photography discussion group. You can learn a lot from other photographers. Join in on the discussion, ask for advice, and if there are workshops or group activities offered, go meet other local photographers in person.
- Remember the rule of thirds. When you’re composing a photo, consider keeping the main focal point in the image at one of the intersections of the grid to create an interesting composition.
- Try to avoid including man-made items in your photos (telephone poles, electric lines, etc.)
- Use a shallow depth of field when photographing wildlife or flowers up close – this blurs out the background, making the animals or flowers stand out more.
- Test out different angles when shooting the same subject – you’ll be able to find the best composition through this process.
- Bring lens cleaner! You’ll be surprised how dirty your lens can get sometimes and you’ll want to be able to clean it off.
- Pack a plastic bag in case of rain – any equipment that should not get wet should be kept in a waterproof bag or cover.
- Be patient! Wildlife photography requires a lot of patience as the animals don’t always cooperate. Take your time, wait for the right shot, and enjoy the day. You won’t always get the shot you want, but you’ll have a good time being outdoors.
Safety Tips for Nature Photography
- Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you should return. In case of an emergency, you’ll want someone to be able to find you quickly. Bring along your cell phone in case you need to call for help.
- Wear appropriate clothing, insect repellent, sunscreen, and anything else required to keep you safe and healthy while walking through the grass or woods.
- Watch where you walk! Even though you may be focused on your photographic prey, keep an eye on where you walk to avoid any accidents.
- Never get too close to a wild animal. Wild animals can be unpredictable, so keep a safe distance. Instead, bring along a telephoto lens for that up close shot.
- Bring a first aid kit with you. Since you may wander far away from civilization, it’s a good idea to bring along a first aid kit, just in case you need it.