I've written about some local spots before, and here's another one.
Nature and wildlife photography takes many trips, lots of attempts and visits to locations. While there are good habits, and techniques, much of it is chance and luck. So, I've found some of the best ways to get good images is to find spots that are not too far of a drive (maybe 30 minutes away or less) and then go often.
With days that are longer than 12 hours, I like to take time to go some where either before or after work. If I get off of work at 5 or 6, and sunset is at 7:30 or 8:30, that's a good amount of time to shoot if it is close by.
I live north of DC and that means Great Falls is close, and there are just a ton of parks, gardens that are good candidates for working.
Even though I like to shoot mostly wildlife and landscapes, I have been getting in the habit of going to a local garden (brookside). They have many varieties of flowers. Just a couple weeks ago almost nothing was in bloom when I went, but I got some decent pansy shots and posted this one.
For me it becomes an exercise in color, composition, and trying to really see more or better, and control things. With wildlife that's harder to try and practice. With landscapes it is somewhat doable, but you cannot control color or light much (sun, time of day, weather conditions - not too controllable) except for getting out a ton and picking the right DAYS...
But with flowers it is straightforward. In a way I would consider flower photography cross-training for me. It is a related but different skillset that I hope to learn from and apply to other areas of photography.
Tonight I stopped by the gardens for less than an hour, and took/made some images. While there I also saw a bunch of american robins, and a pair of red-winged blackbirds. On previous trips I've seen a kingfisher, and baltimore oriole, geese and ducks. One of these days I'm going to get some good wildlife photos here. It might turn in to my next find like the heron from last year. Who knows. And because the gardens are managed and well maintained there should be a good variety and turn over in the flowers/subjects, which means colors.
On a technical note, I've been shooting the flowers mostly with my 80-400mm, and a close up lens, and with extension tube(s) off of a tripod. No flash, and no reflector (yet), and I've not brought a spray bottle of water either...
And color should not be underrated a photographic element of its own.
Nikographer.com / Jon
Wednesday, April 7, 2010