Thursday, December 4, 2008

Embracing the 'burbs

I recently read a post on an online photography forum where the poster bemoaned the fact that she lives in a suburban area and therefore, her opportunities for nature shots was drastically limited. I live in a suburban area myself and can understand her frustration to a point. I’ve struggled to maintain my love for nature photos while surrounded by houses and trees that obscure 60% of the sky or more.

But you know what? Nature is everywhere. If you can’t find it, you’re not looking hard enough. If you’re suburb-bound, here are some idea starters to try:

Start in your own backyard. Got plants, trees, flowers and critters? Good. Shoot ‘em. Isolate them from the suburban-ness around them by getting in close, blurring the background by narrowing your depth of field or contriving a background. Shoot upward, as in the example to the right. Shoot downward.

Got parks? Great. Explore them. Only got one or two? Get out to them in different seasons, different times of the day, different types of weather. I return to the same parks in my area on a regular basis.

Make the suburban-ness work for you. Show nature and suburb together. In harmony. Or at odds. Look for drama. Look for tranquility. Look for different moods.

I’ve published about 2,000 photos online on my photo blog and at Flickr and I would guess that as many as 80 percent of my photos were taken in suburban Chicago. Yes, I love vast unspoiled vistas and exotic locales, but the reality is that I am where I am and to pursue my hobby of photography, I must make the best of the situation.

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