Photographing nature improves your skills, contributes to well-being, writes Jim Craigmyle

Want to take your photography skills to the next level? Join me, Jim Craigmyle, a local photographer, for a workshop on Sept. 15 at the Nature Centre at Scanlon Creek Conservation Area. (Click here for event details). 

In the meantime, why not head to Scanlon Creek or your favourite nature spot for some advance practice with my top five tips. 

1. Location, location, location

One of the advantages of shooting at Scanlon Creek is the abundance and variety of locations to choose from. You’ll get a completely different look taking pictures of the morning sunrise view at the lookout in comparison to the dense trails in mid-afternoon.

2. Pick your time of day

There’s a saying in the photography world that the best time to shoot is the golden hour — the first hour of sun in the day and the last hour of sun in the evening. The light is softer, gives off a warmer tone and is a much more pleasing to shoot in. However, a few tricks can help you get that perfect shot at any time of day. At midday, go into the shade or try backlighting a person to avoid the light shining on their face. 

This photo was taken at the Discovery Play Garden. Jim Craigmyle.

3. Stay sharp

If you want to get a landscape image, bring a tripod or monopod. This allows you to shoot in low-light situations while keeping your image sharp and clear. With digital photos, any slight wiggle while holding the camera will cause the image to blur when blown up. Want to take it one step further? Use a cable release (a wire that you plug into your camera with a switch, so you don’t shake it when pushing the button) to minimize movement — especially when shooting with long exposure and or telephoto lenses. 

4. Experiment

Experiment with a variety of tools and techniques! Usually with kids and portraits I shoot with a longer lens, but in this shot, I used a wide-angle lens to tell the story of the environment. You can also try experimenting with angles and altering your view by kneeling down or getting on ground level. It could be the difference between a good shot and a great one! 

Jim Craigmyle took this photo using a wide-angle lens. Jim Craigmyle. 

5. Shoot often

Choose different times of day, different seasons, and different weather conditions. Really immerse yourself because it will have a slightly different look and feel every time you go. The beauty of Scanlon for me is that it’s so close that I can go back often. If one thing is off in a photo, go back and try again when the light is more co-operative, or wait until there’s different weather. 

Shooting photos outdoors not only helps increase your skills but the exposure to nature contributes to your sense of well-being.

Want to learn more? Jim Craigmyle is offering a photography workshop at the Nature Centre in Scanlon Creek on Sept. 15, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., with a portion of proceeds supporting the Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation. Space is limited. Register by emailing jim@jimcraigmyle.com or visit www.lakesimcoefoundation.ca for more information.

Professional photographer Jim Craigmyle has been photographing landscapes, portraits and conceptual images for more than 35 years. He lives just north of Bradford near the Scanlon Creek Conservation Area.