It is probably obvious that I enjoy being outside. I grew up spending time outside hunting and fishing and I have just always enjoyed being outside. This works out great with my addiction to photography, nature and landscape photography is a perfect outlet for me and a great excuse to get me “outside” (all those years of telling me to stop watching TV and go play outside paid off Mom!). Of course if you like being outside and you like nature and landscape photography you need a place to shoot photos. The living room doesn’t work well in this case. I’ve written before about doing a lot of my photography “close to home” – a major reason for me is that by shooting close to home I revisit areas over time and get more familiar with them. The more familiar with an area I become the better work I feel that I do there. It is also fun to document how areas change over time. Of course, shooting close to home is also convenient; I can shoot places near where I live during the evening hours after work (or occasionally at sunrise before going to work). And let’s face it, shooting close to home saves money on gas and other travel expenses. It’s ironic that many people aren’t that aware of opportunities near where they live to get out and explore nature. I know there are places near where I live that I don’t visit often unless I have visitors from out of town. Often a visitor will say “I just visited such and such just down the street and it was great, have you been there?” and I have to hang my head in shame and mumble “no”. If you are interested in nature and landscape photography, but stuck for places to shoot, make sure you aren’t overlooking areas near where you live. A great place to get some nature photographs is your backyard. If you need some inspiration, check out the backyard bird photographs of Wayne Rhodus.
Another place to look for subjects if you are interested in nature photography is local parks. This past weekend I visited a butterfly garden in the small Sojourner Truth Park in Manhattan. I have photographed butterflies at this park before and have been lucky to have been there when this small area was literally covered in butterflies. On this trip the butterflies weren’t as thick as I have seen them before, but there were still plenty of subjects to photograph. I spent about an hour photographing various butterflies, bees, wasps, moths, spiders, and flowers.
Naturally I started photographing butterflies, following different ones as they flew around the butterfly garden.
This particular butterfly wasn’t in the best shape but neither am I so we made a good pair.
Probably the most fun I had though was trying to photograph a sphinx moth (I think a White-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata).
I’m not sure how long I ran around the butterfly garden photographing the sphinx moth as it flew around, I probably looked pretty comical to anyone that might have been watching.
While I was following the sphinx moth I just about stuck my face in this garden spider. This was probably the largest garden spider (Argiope aurantia) I have run across and I couldn’t help but stop and shoot a few frames of it (not too close though, spiders give me the creeps).
All in all not a bad way to spend some time outside on a beautiful afternoon. And I didn’t have to go far at all to get my nature photography fix for the day. Next time you want to do some nature photography, but maybe don’t have a lot of time, try a local park, you might be surprised at what you can find.