Ideas for Photographing Nature in your Backyard
Have you noticed how many photographers are fascinated with the natural world? Even if we specialise in another genre, few of us can resist a gorgeous flower, or a branch of autumn leaves.
One of the best things about photographing nature is that it is so accessible. You needn’t travel far to find it, because it’s all around you. You may take it for granted because you see it every day, but your own backyard is treasure trove. Every hour of every day and every season, bring something new.
Backyard needn’t be taken literally here. If you don’t have a backyard, you’ll find plenty of nature to photograph just by wandering the streets or public parks and gardens.
Flowers and leaves
Flowers and leaves are often the first things that come to mind when we look for subjects in our own backyards. They offer an endless variety of colours, shapes and textures for you to photograph. You could create a collection based on a single colour scheme, or try to find as many different leaf or flower shapes as possible.
Experiment with different lighting and conditions. I love backlighting for leaves and flowers, as it creates a luminous, almost three-dimensional effect, and you can see details such as veins. Some shapes look better with strong, directional light, and I love how colours are enhanced in the wet.
Flowers are seasonal, and in temperate zones, spring and summer offer the widest variety. There are still flowers to be found in winter, although you may need to look harder. Don’t forget that weeds, such as dandelions ,are also beautiful! Autumn (fall) provides the greatest colour spectrum in leaves.
Fruit, berries and seed pods
When the summer flowers disappear, fruits and berries are nature’s way of providing for birds and animals throughout the colder months. Many berries and seed pods ripen towards the end of autumn, bringing colour to the winter garden. Citrus trees bear fruit in winter, and persimmon trees lose their leaves to reveal branches of shiny orange fruits. Think also of acorns, pine cones, and nuts.
After the rain
Raindrops are fascinating through the lens. Try photographing them from various angles, and in different lighting. When photographing a single droplet, or a string of them, isolate them by keeping the background uncluttered. You can do this by creating distance between the droplets and the background, and using a wide aperture to ensure it is blurred. Notice also how water sits in nice round droplets on some types of leaves, but on others it disperses.
Mushrooms, toadstools and fungi
These are abundant in autumn and winter, but some species pop up throughout the year after rain. Look in damp, mossy places, on the sides of trees and log piles for them.
My personal favourites are the red toadstools with white speckles. They are evocative of fairy tales and magic, and their colours are a nature photographer’s dream!
Don’t ignore the tiny, dull-coloured mushrooms and fungi. The ones in the photo below were growing in a crevice in the side of my herb garden. You can see by the scale of the woodgrain how tiny they were.