Photography Tips From a Pro: Shooting Spring Landscapes is a Natural


Moving water creates a powerful image. Try photographing a pond or a flooded waterway around sunrise or sunset to avoid the harsh glare of the sun. (Nels Akerlund photo)

Finally, it has arrived! After a long winter season, we can get back outside and enjoy the warm sun and start shooting. Some of you have not picked up a camera in a while. I know after a long hiatus from photography, I need a little inspiration to give me a much-needed kickstart. Here, we will discuss some of the great things to photograph this spring.

Water, flowers and foliage are some of my favorite subjects to photograph, and all of these options can be found easily around our region. A few suggestions are Anderson Japanese Gardens, Rock Cut State Park, Starved Rock State Park, the Mississippi River and the Fox River Valley.

Water is by far my favorite subject to photograph. From waterfalls to morning fog drifting over a river, there are so many ways to make powerful images. When shooting waterfalls, I try to capture the motion of the moving water by having a slower shutter speed and my camera on a tripod. This will give the water a silky look, and produce a more dramatic image. You will get better results if you shoot in overcast conditions or very early or late in the day to avoid the harsh glare created by the bright sun. Shooting after a rain storm is ideal for increased water flow and creates a rich, saturated look in the environment.

The time right before and after a storm is also great for photographing landscapes, because the skies are chaotic and filled with wonderful texture and energy. Again, I use a tripod for most outdoor images I create. Though it does slow me down, I find I produce better images due to camera stability and the option of increased depth of field. I also try to position something in the foreground to add depth and interest to my landscape images.

Flowers can be photographed in many ways, from macro photography of the stigma to landscape shots of wildflower fields. They are colorful, have interesting shapes and produce rewarding images that are fun to take. I prefer to shoot individual flowers in soft light: I will either work on an overcast day or bring a diffuser with me to soften the harsh sun. A diffuser is a small, glorified white bedsheet that I place between the sun and my subject to filter the light. It will turn the harsh midday sun into soft, non-contrasting light. Another technique I like to use when shooting tightly on a flower is to dramatically reduce my depth of field while positioning my camera so that the background is darker than the flower. This will help to separate the flower from the background and draw more attention to it.
If you follow my advice, you may get swept away by a waterfall or get struck by lighting, but somewhere in between, you will create beautiful photographs. Sometimes the best shots are created during the worst conditions!

More information can be found at www.NelsAkerlund.com. ❚

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