I saw in the newspaper a while back where some fellow claimed to have found a treasure trove of old photographic plates taken by the famous photographer Ansel Adams. If authenticated, the photos could be worth literally millions of dollars. I recall meeting Ansel Adams several times at his shop in Yosemite Valley and I wish I had purchased some of his autographed photos. His black and white photo of the full moon over Half Dome might well be the most famous outdoor of all time.
While not many of us can be as talented as Ansel Adams, it is entirely possible that all of us can enhance our outdoor experience by taking photos or our excursions afield.
Shortly after I was married my grandfather gave me his old camera, an Argus “Brick” that was the first serious camera I had ever owned. Knowing almost nothing about photography I sought advice from my friend Jim who was a professional photographer. I thought Jim had just about the coolest job in the entire world. He was a freelance photographer who wandered the wild places of this world and took photos which he sold to such magazines as National Geographic. He shot pictures of Cenotes in the Yucatan where the Mayans sacrificed virgins to their gods. He shot pictures of 20-pound lobsters in Costa Rica and then ate lobster for a week. He took pictures of bear hunting with a bow and trout fishing the mighty Tuolumne. Definitely the coolest job I ever heard of. I was fortunate enough to learn a few of the basics of photography from Jim before his early demise.
Probably nothing has brought better rewards than those few short hours of instruction in photography. I have shot outdoor photos galore and they have become some of my most prized possessions. The photos aren’t worth a lot of money. But they preserve memories of outdoor experiences that I can enjoy almost anytime. If I can manage to take outdoor photos, then you can as well. In fact, almost anyone can do it.
Wildflowers are a great place to start. They are plentiful and they stand still for you! You can practice with different lenses, angles and exposures. They are great subjects for beginners. I still have wildflower photos on my office wall that I shot in the ’70s. They are beginning to get a little faded but are still great to look at after all these years. As you get a little more comfortable with your camera, you can expand your range of photos. Kids are always great photo subjects. Nothing brings a smile to your face faster than a photo of a wet, dirty kid, holding up a fish he’s just caught. The important thing is to get out there with your camera and take lots of pictures. The new digital cameras are incredibly easy to operate and you can delete the photos that didn’t turn out so well.
Wildlife pictures are a little more difficult, but if you enjoy a challenge can be really rewarding when you get a really good one. It’s almost impossible to go wrong with vacation photos. Today, when I pick up a picture of an alpine meadow stream with a field of wild iris in the background, I can almost hear the creek and feel the sunshine. It’s almost as good as being there. You, too, can take such photos, but you’ve got to have your camera with you. Make it a habit to carry a camera whenever you get outdoors. You can’t shoot that picture of a lifetime if you haven’t got your camera.
To increase your odds of getting better pictures, seek help from professionals. Visit your local camera shop. Enroll in a photography class at a nearby college, check out the library and you’ll be amazed at the offerings they have available. There are a host of sources out there to help you become a better photographer. And once again, carry your camera with you whenever you are afield. I have a camera in my truck, one in my parka, in my fishing vest, and my backpack. Extra cameras are really handy things to have.
If you haven’t discovered outdoor photography, I heartily recommend that you give it a try. It can greatly increase your outdoor fun.
Until next week,