How To Make Great Images in Your Backyard

Far from that, with a few tricks in your tool kit, you can come away with some compelling images right in your backyard.

Your new favorite sport: sky watching.It is no secret that a big, spectacular sky can turn the mundane into spectacular. So keep your head up, watch for cloud formations, listen to the weather reports and keep track of weather patterns. While it is not always possible to predict if a sunset will be dreary or spectacular, there are often many pointers to its potential. By big skies, I do not only refer to those magical hour fiery skies. A black, ominous stack of clouds can be just as effective to give your photographs a unique mood. Mist and fog can also add an amazing touch to your photographs. Fog has the added bonus that it can hide a lot of undesirable elements, like that pesky building that ruins the view from your nearby park. In Canada, we get lengthy and snowy winters: use them to your advantage and stand out from the crowd.

Explore your surroundings.I am always amazed at the number of opportunities I find lying just around the corner from my home. More than 80% of my photographs were made within a 10-minute radius from my place! Visit your local parks and take the time to explore them. It is amazing how deserted those places can be at sunrise or sunset. They can be all yours for the taking, so by all means, take them.

Take a hike.We are extremely fortunate to have an extensive national/provincial park system in Canada. Beautiful conservation areas can be found within short driving distances from most major cities. A fifty to one hundred kilometer drive will often be enough to take you to the most beautiful areas. So, seize the opportunity and take your family on a weekend picnic, have fun and improve your photographic opportunities at the same time.

Get in touch with your local camera club.We tend to be creatures of habit and invariable end up visiting the same few favorite locales. Local camera clubs often publish lists of the best photographic areas. Some go even further and give you the best times to visit, the local flora and fauna as well as directions how to get there. If you are not too computer-inclined, head directly to the club, talk to people, you might even find new shooting buddies.

Rethink your shooting style. Landscape photography does not always have to involve wide-angle lenses and sweeping vistas. You can make equally beautiful and pleasing photographs in a more intimate setting. Use your entire lens arsenal; take out that dusty 200mm lens! What is the point of buying lenses if they are only used to make your bag look bigger? Look for repeating patterns, striking colors. Isolate a subject and make it your main focus. Ice patterns, flowers, reflected trees in a pond, flowing water, twisted branches can provide countless hours of fun, in addition to breaking the routine. Work on abstract compositions; take a chance on macro photography. You might just like it…

Experiment, experiment, experiment.The sun has gone down, the colors have melted away, most people just pack and leave. Night photography offers endless avenues for exploration: take a flashlight and paint with light, aim for the stars and capture their trails… You can also experiment with long exposures using ND filters or try infrared photography to achieve a unique and distinctive look.


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