Tag Archives: camera

Why I Love Nature Photography

PhotographyOn my last day off, I couldn’t have asked for a better day weather-wise. The sun was shining, the sky was a stunning shade of blue, there was a gentle breeze and the temperature was a picture-perfect 20 degrees Celsius.

When deciding how I was going to spend this precious day off, I knew that grabbing the camera and spending an hour or so around a nearby creek was at the top of my list.

Upon my arrival, it took less than five minutes to get completely absorbed into the creative bubble of this enchanted forest, focused on a world of tiny subjects in their intricate detail.

Thoughts of the real world had completely suspended. It was like I had jumped into vacation mode, yet was still just minutes from my house.

On this quiet morning, I appreciated the peace and solitude of the moment, even though I was surrounded by many species of wildlife pursuing their business of the day. I marveled at the soothing effect of just being there, bearing witness to nature’s gentle pace.

I noticed that my usually hurried steps gradually slowed down as if to not disturb nature’s ebb and flow. My breathing slowed as well, as a calming effect took over.

I scanned through the tall grasses and plants surrounding me, looking for my next subject. My senses were fully tuned in, trying to spot those moments that we miss while rushing from commitment to commitment.

Thoughts of my to-do list drifted away as I followed a monarch butterfly floating from plant to plant, posing and preening in the sunshine as if to say “Take my picture, take my picture!” I happily obliged and then thanked her for the opportunity. Continue reading

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The Pitfalls of Nature Photography

Now that I have been out and about, enjoying the spring weather, indulging in a little quiet time, communing with nature and taking photos, I could not help but notice that my hobby does have its share of pitfalls.

In trying to capture the perfect shot, I often feel like a secret agent, trying to move in on a subject in stealth mode, intensely looking at the world through a viewfinder.

But in doing so, and in being so focused, I have occasionally lost track of the intricacies of the physical world around me, including time and space. From a health and safety perspective, it concerns me a little, given my tendency to occasionally be a bit of a klutz.

Yet even when faced with these challenges, I don’t seem deterred. The rewards of capturing a great nature shot are worth every bump and bruise.

Also, Mother Nature has a way of keeping photographers on their toes by changing the perfect conditions with little advance notice. It can get a little frustrating but I’d like to think that this is part of the thrill of the hunt when perseverance leads you to that shot that made it all worth it.

Here they are, my top 10 pitfalls of nature photography:

10. Losing track of time
It has happened that in the process of evaluating the composition and the lighting, taking a test shot, evaluating the result, making adjustments, taking another test shot and repeating until I think I have captured the best photo possible, before I know it, an hour has passed. It’s delightful to lose myself in the creative process when I have unlimited time on my hands, but it is quite another matter, when I am on my lunch hour and due back for a meeting at 1:00 sharp.

9. Wearing the wrong shoes
A subset of #10, sometimes I get so enthralled in my photo shoot, not only do I lose track of time, but I lose track of space and distance and find myself farther away than I originally planned. It is on the long walk back and dealing with a blister that I realize that I was not wearing the right shoes for such an undertaking. Continue reading

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Did Nature Photography Get Me to Enjoy Winter?

In last December’s post, “How Nature Photography Might Get Me to Appreciate Winter”, I wondered if my rediscovery of photography might be able to nudge me out of my usual winter cocoon and spend more time outside.

For those who have never been to Ottawa, let me offer a little bit of context. Yes, we do have an abundance of beautiful winter days that are like a shot out of a Disney movie. However, the Norman Rockwell painting of a perfect suburban Ottawa winter starts fading around the 18th consecutive day of snow, threat of freezing rain, or temperatures so low, even the cat won’t sit by the window and conduct her usual backyard surveillance despite her abundant fur coat. Winters here can be very harsh for long stretches.

When the weather outside is frightful and the sidewalks are covered with snow and ice, it’s not most conducive to a cheerful walk outside at lunch time. When you also factor in a long and slow commute home wondering where the heck the city’s snowplows went and repeatedly mumbling to myself “Why the heck do I pay taxes?” it should come as no surprise if I have to dig deeply to want to spend more time outdoors and risk falling and breaking a hip… the joys of becoming a grumpy old man! (and yes, I know some close friends are now thinking, “what do you mean ‘becoming’?”)

But this winter, I did spend more time outside, thanks to the camera!

While I wouldn’t say it made me a winter lover in one season, nature photography certainly made it more enjoyable by helping me lose track of time while doing something I truly enjoy. I would even go so far as to say this winter didn’t seem to drag on as much as it did in previous years. Continue reading

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How Nature Photography Might Get Me to Appreciate Winter

I admit it… I like the great indoors and my creature comforts. When the weather outside is frightful, especially in winter, I can’t think of anything better than staying inside, cozying up with a pillow and a blanket on the couch, listening to great music, reading a good book, watching a fun movie or even getting a few crazy story ideas committed to paper. To me that’s heaven on a cold, blustery winter day… or pretty much any winter day, actually.

However, it seems that through my renewed love of photography and my commitment to keeping the Instagram account freshly updated, something changed. After the first snowfall of the season here in Ottawa, I suddenly found myself meandering outdoors, chasing after the ever elusive nature shots. How did that happen?

Let’s be perfectly clear. I might not be inclined to spend more time outdoors than I have to on a blustery, stormy day. That would be pure silliness. That is when I will invoke the aforementioned “creature comforts” clause.

But after the storm has passed and the pathways have been cleared, it might be a different story. I am definitely warming up to the idea of getting out on a crisp, sunny day, and wandering out in the winter wonderland to take shots of the birds that didn’t fly south or the squirrels still running around gathering food.
Squirrel

I admit, a fresh, clean blanket of snow can lend itself to a certain beauty and majesty not found in other seasons. When snow crystals glitter in the sunlight, it can have a magical effect. To capture it in a photo might be my “thrill of the hunt” challenge this coming winter. Continue reading

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The Fleeting Moments of Nature Photography

bluebutterflyIn rediscovering my love of photography, I found myself developing a new habit: grabbing the camera and heading outdoors to start capturing the beauty of my favourite season, fall. Little did I know that photographing trees and leaves would quickly progress into something else.

Before you could say “Squirrel!” I was distracted by the abundant wildlife going about its business in the crisp autumn air. I soon found myself following around the wildlife with my camera with the same intensity as Elmer Fudd hunting for “wabbits”.

I admit, the thrill of the hunt for the perfect photo was a little addicting, to the point that I started to forget about the original goal of taking pictures of the leaves and the trees.

It was in that transition that it occurred to me how nature photography is really a unique genre onto itself.

In the studio, when working with an inanimate object, I can stage it, style it, move it around, shoot it, adjust it, and reshoot it 50 times from different angles to get that one perfect shot.
In nature photography, when the moment presents itself, there is little time to think about it. The perfect moment is fleeting and the perfect picture is elusive. And when the subject flees, it is time to look for another subject. The creative challenge it presents is most fascinating to me.

Nature photography is a whole different ball game that requires time, patience, a good eye and the intuition to set up a shot that may (or may not) happen.

For example, as much as I would like to, I cannot tell a chipmunk to “hold still”, “smile”, “a little to the left”, “not so much”, “tilt your head down”, “turn around and try an over the shoulder shot”. Even though they work for peanuts, they are not the most cooperative of subjects.

It is a similar situation with birds. Continue reading

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Breathing New Life in Family Photos

beginfamilyIn my recent post “Blogging… More Than Words“, I mentioned how blogging became more than just about the writing, it also rekindled my love for photography.

In doing so, I found myself digging through old photo albums looking for photos to scan. Whether it was to add to my own collection of stock photography for future blogs or to post on social media to breathe new life into old memories, it has been a fun journey.

But along the way, I noticed that some of the albums from the 1970’s and 1980’s were starting to deteriorate. In a few albums, the sticky “magnetic” pages were starting to get yellow. In some cases, the pictures themselves were changing colour. In others, the pictures weren’t coming off the sticky pages at all. I then felt like a surgeon using any flat headed tool I could find in my tool box or art supplies, to delicately remove pictures from the albums without damaging them.

I was reminded that these albums probably date back to a time before photo albums mentioned “acid-free” pages. Who would have thought that the albums intended to save memories of family and friends might have a limited life span themselves. Did anyone see this coming?

And so began the unexpected project of taking all of the pictures out of the albums that were showing signs of age.

The activity became a fun walk down memory lane, reliving the good old days with family, friends and colleagues. But the clock was ticking as I did not want these precious photos to suffer from more damage. Continue reading

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Blogging… More Than Words

I was recently honoured with the invitation to submit a guest blog to Australian writer, author and novelist Kevin Klehr.

The topic for the post I submitted is how, over time, the blogging process became more than just about words. Blogging became a vehicle for a much more expansive creative process. Check it out:

https://kevinklehr.com/2016/06/20/guest-post-andre-begin/

While you are there, please check out the rest of his web site at kevinklehr.com for his blog posts as well as excerpts and trailers of his books and short stories.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my deepest gratitude to Kevin for his generosity, his kindness and for his encouragement.

Sincere thanks for reading!

Have a great day,

André

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