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"Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, waterbugs, tadpoles, frogs & turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, hickory nuts, trees to climb, animals to pet, hayfields, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets – and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education." -Luther Burbank 1849 - 1926
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Nature Photography of Wildlife and Scenics

Nature photography has been my passion for as long as I could click a shutter. These days, I've turned mostly to videography and am developing my first commercial DVD for the nature appreciation audience. So I thought it might be helpful to share some of what I've learned about nature photography, and invite you to share some of your tips.

Living in California and having the opportunity to travel to middle America on occasion, I'm expanding my library of still and motion photos. The merger of the two is a wonderful way to maximize your nature photography experience. Some wildlife critters are just too fast to do justice with videography. And some of the behaviors of wildlife are too complex to capture with stills.

Bird Photography

Photographing birds is probably easier with a still camera. By using a long telephoto lens, you can capture the beauty of their feathers and structural form as they sit, walk or swim. Videography is best for watching a parent feed their young, or a flock rise in unison...the majesty of such behaviors are best shown in motion.

Attracting birds to an appealing site is a craft. By providing food for several days before your photographic excursion, you can attract a wider variety of birds, and they will develop a habit of where they sit on observation branches, and how they watch for predators, etc. This habitual behavior makes it a bit easier for the nature photographer to capture them using a long lens.

Setting up a blind also helps -- the nature photograher's blind can be a tent, a reed room divider, a wilderness constructed wall of branches or weeds, or even a piece of camoflauge cloth attached to a couple stakes or tripods. The trick is, once again, to set it up ahead of time so the wildlife gets accustomed to the new structure in their territory.

Insect Photography

Macro photography requires a very different setup. Long telephoto lenses are replaced with macro lenses that allow you to get up close and personal. Food can include a spray bottle of sugar solution sprayed on flowers to attract and hold butterflies...or a piece of rotting fruit...or other favored treats.

Closeup photography requires careful attention to light. The use of a low powered camera light can be helpful in some situations such as under a bush, in the leafy debris of the forest floor, or in a garden. Reflectors and tents of soft light diffusing materials can also be helpful.

Insects can also be grown or kept in a conservatory or bug box to await their 15 minutes of fame. Caterpillars are great critters for practicing your insect photography. They crawl somewhat slowly, and can become engrossed in eating!

Scenic Nature Photography

Scenic photography is probably the most popular nature photography subject. It's everywhere, it's an ever changing canvas of wonder, and the colors are spectacular. As long as you carefully avoid electrical wires and ugly human construction, the chances of taking a memorable scenic photo is excellent.

Again, a good tripod is helpful, as are an array of lenses -- from wide angle to telephoto. But scenic photography is the most forgiving of subjects. A simple pastoral scene is widely available, and can be photographed with any kind of lens. A sunset can be taken with a normal lens or a wide angle. And if a sailboat is in view, a telephoto can make the scene pop!

Nature photography provides endless wonder. It also is a way to "collect" memories without damaging nature -- as long as you are careful not to step on rare plants, or stress remove animals by removing them from their habitat, or generally making a natural nusiance of yourself! Enjoy. The artistic adventure available with nature photography provide endless delight!

For more articles about ENJOYING NATURE

Botanical Garden Links
California Poppy Reserve
The Botanical Garden and Montreal Insectarium
America's Ecosystems
California Poppy Reserve
California Agritourism