Interested in picking up a new hobby that highlights the beauty this world has to offer? Try outdoor photography! It’s a gratifying artistic outlet with insurmountable subjects to practice on, especially when the focus is this beautiful earth.

Having traveled across the country quite a bit with my Nikon D5100 and a lifelong goal of checking all of the National Parks off my bucket list, I’ve certainly gathered some surprising shots over the years – “surprising” in the sense that I never thought I’d be able to capture such beauty myself! America’s striking scenery makes it easier to capture these kinds of shots than you’d think. During my time on the road, I’ve managed to gather a quasi-list of photography tips and tricks to keep in mind when venturing to the great outdoors with your camera lens.

Before taking off, it is important to pack the right equipment for the adventure. Packing efficiently is the best way to ensure all camera and personal essentials are necessary. Appropriate weather gear, sunscreen, food and water are all of the obvious provisions, but keep in mind the shooting setting when packing lenses.

When it comes to outdoor photography, a good wide-angle lens or a telephoto lens is the way to go. Wide-angle lenses are idyllic for capturing a sweeping countryside or starry night sky, while telephoto lenses are crucial when attempting to capture wildlife, mountains and moon features. Tripods can also make an excellent addition to the trip; setting up a tripod is great for long exposure or low-light photography.

It’s also important to plan the trek around ideal times of day, like when the sun is rising or setting. Early mornings or late afternoons bring out the best colors; the harsher shadows retreat and the mellow lighting is great to play around with. Shooting wildlife during either time of day is also ideal. Remember to shoot away from the sun, and not toward it.

Keep content in mind when taking photos. “Leading lines” such as coastlines, winding roads, trails or long fences make a great addition to any outdoor photograph. Divine (or manmade) structures like these help to ease the eye through the image, and give the viewer guidance toward the main focus of the photograph. Bodies of water or general wildlife also make great focal points.

Never be afraid to test the shutter speed! Slow shutter speed is ideal for long-exposure photographs and can add a particular style of dreamy effect to bodies of water (including waterfalls) or horizon features such as clouds or fields.

Lastly… have fun with it! Never be afraid of trying new angles, changing around the camera settings and practicing with new subjects. There is never a wrong angle, opportunity or scene to capture. Besides, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

Photo lessons

Interested in taking some classes on outdoor photography this summer? There are plenty of options available online. Although COVID-19 has affected physical classes in the region, online classes are abundant and various options extend throughout the state. Professional photographers in the region and beyond are offering classes online that focus on individualized needs depending on the student. There are paid and free resources available for all levels.

There are courses available on several online platforms, too, including CreativeLive and Skillshare. Both offer several classes on various different topics. CreativeLive has an Essential Tools and Techniques for Nature Photography course that offers tips and thought processes behind taking great nature shots. The site also offers an Art of Nature Photography class, which focuses on “spotting creative shots in popular places, fine tuning composition with unpredictable wildlife and developing an eye for better nature photography.”

Over on Skillshare, there is a class on shooting at sunset, sunrise and nighttime, which hones in on learning how to be flexible with a camera during different hours of the day with different natural lightings, and how to edit them accordingly. There’s also a unique opportunity to learn about shooting professional photos with drones – a class deemed perfect for improving social media content, honing in on drone photography skills and for those who wish to make drone photography a professional career someday.

Depending on which class you choose, you’ll get a certain amount of videos and tutorials, as well as bonus tips on editing in apps such as Lightroom or Photoshop. Each photographer has a different set of skills and experience and each class brings a new perspective to outdoor photography and beyond.

Outdoor photography is a fun hobby to work on, with so much to learn and so much potential. Capturing the beauty of this earth is not always easy, but the right set of skills can help lead the way to some breathtaking images. New Hampshire (and especially the Monadnock region) has been blessed with some surely exquisite scenery, and it is only fair to take advantage and highlight that kind of beauty that Monadnockers get to experience every day!