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06.14.2013

Eight years ago, the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) designated June 15th as Nature Photography Day. This year, it will be observed on Saturday, June 15th. This day was created by NANPA to promote the enjoyment of nature photography, and to explain how images have been used to advance the cause of conservation and protect plants, wildlife, and landscapes locally and worldwide.

For many nature photographers, the camera is a tool for documenting incredible moments spent in the great outdoors. It also helps us to share the beauty of a sunrise with friends who decided to sleep in, or to show the magnificence of an endangered animal to a world that may have forgotten it.

 © 2013 Gabby Salazar | Dingmans Falls, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania, USA. Lens: Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye. Aperture: f3.5. Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec. ISO 800.

© 2013 Gabby Salazar | Dingmans Falls, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania, USA. Lens: Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye. Aperture: f3.5. Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec. ISO 800.

This Saturday, I encourage you to get spend some time outdoors with your camera. If you don’t commonly photograph nature, think of it as an exercise in creativity. By exploring natural subjects through the lens, you may learn something that you can apply at your next portrait session or wedding shoot.

© 2013 Gabby Salazar | Women hiking near Dingmans Falls, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania, USA. Lens: Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye. Aperture: f3.5. Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec. ISO 800.

© 2013 Gabby Salazar | Women hiking near Dingmans Falls, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania, USA. Lens: Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye. Aperture: f3.5. Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec. ISO 800.

Here are a few tips to help you make better nature photographs this Nature Photography Day:

Get up early and stay out late: The best time to photograph landscapes and animals is early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is low in the sky and the light is soft.

Open your eyes: Look closely at your surroundings for interesting features or splashes of color. Too often we grab our cameras and stumble around looking for an image that is going to “wow” people. In doing so, we ignore many excellent and interesting shots of smaller details like the curve of a rose petal, a backlit leaf, or patterns in the sand.

© 2013 Gabby Salazar | Calypso orchid (Calypso bulbosa), Bridal Veil Falls Trail, Telluride, Colorado, USA. Lens: Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye. Aperture: f11. Shutter Speed: 1/30 sec. ISO 800.

© 2013 Gabby Salazar | Calypso orchid (Calypso bulbosa), Bridal Veil Falls Trail, Telluride, Colorado, USA. Lens: Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye. Aperture: f11. Shutter Speed: 1/30 sec. ISO 800.

It is all about “The Light”: The most common, uninteresting scene can become magical if the light is right! We’ve all experienced those special moments driving down the road when the light suddenly changes and the scene before us is transformed into something breathtaking. Be ready with your camera to capture those moments.

Try Interesting angles. Change your perspective: We are built to look straight ahead and we often shoot that way too. Don’t forget to look up and down! I am lying on the ground to make the image of the red eft seen below. Also, remember to take your camera off your tripod to compose. Too often, we mount our cameras on the tripod and continually shoot at the same height. Instead, try moving around your subject, composing in the viewfinder at different angles and heights.

Pay attention to details: How many times have you gone to print an image and realized that there is an annoying twig or power line in the picture? Remember to scan through your viewfinder in the field to look for distracting elements. Then, where possible, you can recompose to eliminate them. When shooting landscapes, also pay attention to the sky! If there is nothing happening in the sky, then don’t include it.

© 2013 Gabby Salazar | A juvenile red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), also known as a red eft, in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania, USA. Lens: Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye. Aperture: f3.5. Shutter Speed: 1/40 sec. ISO 500.

© 2013 Gabby Salazar | A juvenile red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), also known as a red eft, in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania, USA. Lens: Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye. Aperture: f3.5. Shutter Speed: 1/40 sec. ISO 500.

This Saturday, make a special effort to venture out into the wilderness (or to your local park) for Nature Photography Day. Be prepared to get caught up in the light on a backlit tree or in the intricate details of lichen. When you start looking for beauty in the outdoors, it is easy to be overwhelmed. John Muir once wrote, “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” I hope you have the same experience.

© 2013 Gabby Salazar | Ferns on the Appalachian Trail near Wolf Rocks, Laurel Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, USA. Lens: Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye. Aperture: f5.0. Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec. ISO 1000.

© 2013 Gabby Salazar | Ferns on the Appalachian Trail near Wolf Rocks, Laurel Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, USA. Lens: Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye. Aperture: f5.0. Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec. ISO 1000.

To learn more about the product Gabby used, visit the 15mm F2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye Lens page.

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