Exploring your Own Backyard: Seeing the Amazing in the Ordinary

Fall Flowers in Meadow, Freeville, NY

Fall Flowers in Meadow, Freeville, NY

When people think of nature photography they typically imagine an African safari or exploring the wilds of South America.  This romantic view is a reality for a number of photographers, but the reality is that most people simply can’t afford to spend $15,000 for a week long African safari.  If being a nature photographer required that, then there would be far fewer of us out there.  Nature photography is open to anyone and be done anywhere and at any time.  Take for example the above image.  This fall scene of a meadow covered in blooming goldenrod and scattered with a handful of other flowers was taken less than a mile from my apartment.

In an effort to increase my endurance and get in shape, I have taken to running in the evenings in the neighborhood surrounding my apartment.  Since I am new to the area, I tend to take a different route each day to explore the area and like last night, occasionally stumble across a nice site to photograph.  Two nights ago, I ran by this meadow about a half mile from my house.  What I saw initially looked a lot different than this.  It was illuminated by a tinge of warm light as the sun broke through a dissipating storm and the colors popped.  Unfortunately, I was running and I have a hard enough time hauling myself around much less my camera, so no pictures for me then.

I returned the following morning at sunrise to see if I could make a picture.  The light was different–quite simply, there wasn’t any.  It was heavily overcast with an impending rainstorm forecast to give us a good day-long soaking.  Taking what was available, I made a series of images before the cold rain drove me back home for a warm breakfast.

Length of the entire trip?  Maybe 20 minutes.  Distance I drove?  Less than a mile and half round trip.  Lesson?  There is always time and a place to make pictures of the natural world.  I am as guilty as anyone of dreaming up massive trips cross country or across the globe but while I plan those trips, these backyard or neighborhood locations act to stimulate my creativity and keep my passion going.

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