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Close-Ups or Landscapes? How to Take Better Photos

Close-Ups or Landscapes? How to Take Better Photos

Taking photographs of travels is not a new phenomenon. It has been around for generations, but technology has made it much easier to capture the picturesque landscapes and nature shots that serve as reminders of fun times camping and touring in the camper or RV. Professional photographers are well-trained in their ability to create those images that make us go “Wow” but with a few tips, even the beginner can share photos on social media they can be proud of.

There are some seasons of the year which are just more colorful than others – namely spring and autumn. Even if the colorful leaves have fallen to the ground, fall still has some great shots, especially for close ups of foliage, creeks and streams and misty, foggy mornings.

Seek out the most photographic spots. Scenic drives are a safe bet no matter the season. Rural roads that traverse through farm lands and wooded acres are also good places to take that idyllic farm scene, photograph weathered barns or friendly cows. Farmer’s markets, pumpkin farms, or even community events can provide a plethora of possible photos. Find what you like and appeals to you.

The first tip is to look around; look for the little details that although not as grand as a vibrant fall landscape, are still gorgeous little snapshots of your outdoor experience. Change the angle at which you take pictures. Shoot upwards or directly over the object you are photographing. Nature’s beauty is not restricted to an eye-level only zone.

A garden chair covered with fallen leaves, or the sculpture a leaf-barren tree makes against a blue sky can be evocative of that time spent in the woods in late October or November. Looking for a detail to focus on, such as a rock formation, a twisted tree trunk or even a man-made element like a bench or bridge adds interest to your photos.

Adding loved ones into the shot is also a way to make the photos you take more treasured. Even better mementos are made with action shots, such as photographing family members playing in the leaves, skipping stones on a lake, or roasting marshmallows at the campfire.

Photos are much better with lighting and natural light is the best choice – both indoors and outdoors. The middle of the day is not the best time to take pretty photos. The sun can be glaring and wash out what may otherwise be a colorful shot. Many photographers take their photos in the morning or afternoon, when the sun is not directly overhead, and the lighting softens the scene. During sunny days, a passing cumulous cloud can give you that respite from the sun’s strongest light and allow the subject of the photo to shine instead.

Camera flashes can help in darker areas and can bring details out of a flower, for example, that may have been missed, or take some element in the shadows and bring it out. Flash photography does not always work well, especially in darker times of the day.

Don’t rule out those stormy days. Cloud formations are one subject that can bring emotion to a scene. The dark, brooding storm wall as it appears on the horizon or rain splashing into a puddle on the ground can be poetic in their photographic representation. Snow falling in the forest or frost surrounding a leaf are some suggested subjects for colder weather. Dramatic changes brought on by the seasons does not have to be the catalyst for amazing photos. Seasonal changes often happen around little things, such as a horse’s fluffy winter coat or the frost pattern on a window or even the visible breath when exhaling on a chilly day.

Consider how the object you are photographing looks in the frame. Centering the object of a photograph is a common way to compose the photo, but depending on the subject, moving it to the left or right creates a different issue. Consider a close-up if there are details in the object that warrant it. Look at movement, such as the direction a stream flows and incorporate that into the photo. These background considerations can take a photo from cellphone gallery to a framed piece of art on your living room wall. Contrasting colors or playing with light and dark are one of the techniques pros use for those inspirational images.

Finally, choose a theme. If you are most often drawn to trees, make that your go-to subject for your nature photographs. Some people love clouds – another excellent choice for beautiful photos. Others like panoramic photos of the landscape – another good choice. Others photograph mushrooms, wild flowers, forest creatures, butterflies, etc. Pick your subject and practice taking photos. Learn how your camera works and use it to your advantage. And, if you are not at the level of Ansel Adams, give yourself a break. The fun is in the journey, not in the immediate result. 

Oct 18th 2021 Lois Tomaszewski

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