Let me just start out by saying that I am truly blessed. Blessed because I have the privilege to live in beautiful rural Georgia where I am surrounded by nature. Also, blessed to have amazing opportunities as a National Geographic Kids Insider. Earlier this week, Kelley Miller, the National Geographic Kids photo editor took time to chat with Insiders and share some nature photography tips. The timing of her tips couldn’t have been any better, since The Great Nature Project has officially kicked off. More on that later.
Kelley’s pictures are so inspiring. Here are just a couple of the many beautiful images she has captured in partnership with National Geographic Kids:
Here’s a recap of Kelley’s nature photography tips (in no particular order):
1. Be observant. Don’t look at everything through your camera lens. Nature is happening when you are looking elsewhere.
2. Make eye contact and smile. Also, for animals with ears, it’s good to photograph them with their ears facing forward, denoting interest.
3. Look for details and don’t be afraid to zoom in for a closeup.
4. Include the animals habitat and show their environment. Also, a shallow depth of field makes the animal pop out.
5. Try different angles. Change composition by taking different shots, above or from the side, tilt the angle to get a different perspective.
6. To have the animal stand out in its environment, use a simple background. For example, wait for the animal to come out of the shadow to catch it.
7. A slower shudder speed captures the action. Go for motion.
8. Nature photography is all about picking a spot to observe and letting nature come to you. Be patient, sit and wait for animals to become a little more comfortable around you.
9. Capture the emotion, personality, and playful side of an animal. For dark subjects, try a side-lit portrait.
10. Give a Sense of Scale. Pay attention to graphic elements.
11. Photos are more interesting when the subject is not in the middle all the time.
When asked which camera is best for nature photography, Kelly responded “The best camera is the one you will use most often.” -I just love her answer.
This morning my family headed out on a nature photography walk to put Kelley’s tip to use. A few years back my brother, and two other family members invested in adjoining property to equal about 130 acres of beautiful pine forest. More of us followed and we now all get to enjoy this beautiful Georgia landscape. This morning we took a stroll out to a small cabin my brother built out by the creek.
I’m almost embarrassed to show my pictures after the amazing ones you just saw from Kelley Miller, but I was able to apply most of her tips and am pretty happy with my pictures.
The trees in the woods are full of glistening webs.
But look a little closer and you will see that these are caterpillar nests.
… full of cocoons and tiny little caterpillars just waiting to be transformed.
How does that saying go – leaves of three, leave it be?
These pretty yellow flowers grow wild along the trail.
Each week, Grannie Wright, throws a bag of corn out to feed the deer. There are three doe that look forward to her generosity each week.
Maddie spotted some deer tracks to take pictures of.
We made it to the little cabin.
And look who has joined us… it’s Grannie Laura!
The creek has been a little muddy all summer, but it’s still a great source of water for all of the wildlife.
There are a lot of these giant mushrooms in the woods.
More inhabitants of the woods. You really have to watch where you step. These ant hills are all over the place.
It’s nice to just sit down and take it all in.
Do you see that little guy hitching a ride on a pine cone? I captured him in this shot totally by accident.
These Persimmon Trees are one of the other reasons the deer like to hang around. They drop to the ground, providing a succulent and sweet feast for wildlife.
The woods are full of all sort of creepy crawlies like this Orb Spider.
Something has his feathers ruffled…
After our nature walk, we stopped to say hi to some family pets. This is Becca’s horse E.T. who is enjoying his golden years.
Vickie here is quite a character.
Meet Sparky the Donkey. He thinks he’s hot stuff. We don’t bring my dog Winston over to visit anymore. It’s a clash of the egos between those two.
Spotty was feeling a little shy today.
This is sweet LeLe.
Our nature photography walk was so much fun for the the entire family, and the kids really great time taking their own pictures. Early Fall is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy nature, as the temperatures are just beginning to drop. I hope you’ll be able to use some of Kelley’s tips and get outside for your own nature photography walk.
The Great Nature Project
The National Geographic Society, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, is urging everyone to get off the couch and go outside to explore — and celebrate — nature, whether in their own backyard, a local park or anywhere that nature thrives. From Sept. 21-29, 2013, National Geographic invites the whole world to take part in the Great Nature Project, an unprecedented attempt to capture and appreciate Earth’s biodiversity.
How can you participate? Anyone with a camera or camera phone is encouraged to take photos of any plants or animals they come across and share them with the world by uploading them to various social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and Flickr, using the hashtag #GreatNature. The uploaded, tagged photos will be aggregated on greatnatureproject.org, where visitors to the website can view the images and take advantage of opportunities to engage deeper and learn more about the world’s biodiversity through educational and scientific resources.
As part of the Great Nature Project, National Geographic Kids is attempting to set a Guinness World Record for the largest online photo album of animals by collecting more than 100,000 animal images. Any photo of an animal uploaded and then shared with Great Nature Project with the addition of the hashtag #animal will be counted toward the record.
So remember, you have through September 29, 2013 to upload your nature and animal pics to Twitter, Instagram and Flickr using the #GreatNature hashtag and #animal where applicable.
Disclosure: As a National Geographic Kids Insider I receive special access and the occasional product sample. I receive no monetary compensation as part of this program and have no obligations to National Geographic Kids as part of this program.