These Photos are Anything but Basic!

By May 6, 2021 No Comments

On Saturday May 1st, we hosted our first Super Basic Nature Photography workshop at Audubon Woods Preserve. The photographers joining us arrived with a variety of experience levels and equipment ranging from smartphones to auto-zoom cameras to DSLRs. All came with an open mind and a desire to improve their photographs. Our focus during this workshop was on composition techniques. We began the session by sharing a variety of different techniques and provided examples to illustrate how each technique can be used to create more appealing photographs. After this introduction, the photographers were able to explore Audubon Woods and put these new ideas into effect. I tried to offer some constructive critiques and pointed out a few cool photographic opportunities.

After the workshop, we asked the photographers to share some of their images with us. Here are some of my favorites from the photos that were submitted.

I like the depth of this image with interest in the foreground and background. It’s a nice environmental portrait with the small sapling as its subject. It’s not very easy to see unless you zoom in but I like the strand of spider web flying off to the left from a leaf near the top of the plant – it tells a little bit a story all on its own.
Good use of foreground interest and depth in this photograph.
I really like how the grouping of trees in the background creates a visual frame for the main subject of the photo. This photographer was really drawn to vertical lines and used them well in their compositions.
Love the right-and-left symmetry of this image, the patterns of the bark and woodpecker holes, and how the vertical lines draw the eye up through the photo.
I like the repeated pattern of the bark and fungi. I also like the photographer simplified this image by zooming in to isolate these elements.
A nice close-up portrait of a Large-flowered Bellwort. Moving in close to the flower eliminates the background “noise” and brings the main subject into sharp focus. I also like how the diagonal lines of this image give it a sense of movement.
Another nice closeup image – this time of a clump of fiddleheads. In this image the photographer again eliminated most of the background by moving in close. Images like this result from changing your point of view and getting down to the plant’s level.
Another example of getting down to the plant’s level. I love the snowflake flowers of Mitrewort. Each is only about 1/4 inch across. By getting down at the level of the plant and isolating on the flowers this photo has a greater impact than it would have if it included a busy background or foreground. That stalk that come in from the bottom left also gives the photo a different dynamic than it would have had if there had only been vertical stalks.
Mayapple leaves are a perfect subject for filling the entire frame. The pattern of lines radiating from the center of each leaf means that a centered composition works really well.
This photo is all about the angles! This branch/root(?) seems to leap across the frame. A great find!
This a nice example of using the “Rule of Thirds”. One way to approach composition is to divide your frame of view into a 3 x 3 grid and then to place your main subject along one of those those grid lines (or at the intersection of grid lines) – it seems to result in aesthetically pleasing images. In this image, the gridlines are reinforced by the “steps” on the broken stump breaking the image into thirds.
Another photo of a Mayapple leaf but from a totally different viewpoint! I also like how the lines of trees sweep your view upward.
This Spring Beauty was photographed with an “ant’s eye” view and the image was composed that the flowers fill most of the frame. This is a very different photo than it would have been if taken from a standing or even a kneeling height!

Thank you to Bethel Merrill, Jill McMullen, Michele Upton, Mindy Miller, and Courtney Miller for participating in the workshop and for sharing your photos! I was very impressed by the vision that you each brought and enjoyed seeing the world through your eyes.

If you missed this workshop, we’re looking at the calendar and plan to schedule an additional workshop sometime in late June.