Nature Photography: Recharge and Enjoy the Outdoors | Tabitha Park | Skillshare

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Nature Photography: Recharge and Enjoy the Outdoors

teacher avatar Tabitha Park, Product & Food Photographer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Get Outside


    • 3.

      Shooting Macro


    • 4.

      Explore and Enjoy


    • 5.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Give yourself an excuse to get outside and explore with your camera!

This class was designed around the idea of peeling back the layer of expectations you may have set for yourself and your work. I want you to take a quiet moment out in nature to remember why you got started with photography in the first place.

I find the act of "creating just to create" can be so healing and rewarding, especially if its been awhile since you dusted off your camera! So please join us!

For this class you will need:

  • Any camera (even your phone!)
  • Any place outside that you love

This class is for any level of photographer. The bulk of the lesson is about getting outside and taking pictures for fun but there is a section on macro photography with some broad and specific macro concepts and techniques. 

I hope that this class gives you a reason to get outside and start creating. We're not trying to take the most captivating shots we've ever made, or even to get something "insta-worthy" (but great if you do!! I'd love to see!) We're here to drink up the delicious outdoors, recharge from our day-to-day, and let the little things inspire us.

Meet Your Teacher

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Tabitha Park

Product & Food Photographer

Top Teacher

Hi! I'm Tabitha and I teach photography classes. I'm a lifestyle, product, and food photographer living in the Pacific Northwest with my husband, our 17 gorgeous chickens, and Smallcat! I love plants and coffee and naps. In my spare time I'm a reckless gardener (irl and in Stardew Valley), and unapologetic hobby starter. Currently hyperfixating on crochet, embroidery, and spoon carving!

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1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Tabitha. In this photography class, we're going to be getting outside in nature, taking pictures for exploration and play. I think that as we pursue photography as a career or just a budding habit, we can get kind of in the headset that we need to take a certain type of photo or follow all the specific rules and it can be hard to actually enjoy the process. I think a lot of us get started because we love taking pictures and then as we get more into it, we lose sight of that main goal of having fun. So I think it's important to get outside and in nature, feel the breeze, smell the fresh air, and just take pictures for fun for you. Not necessarily following any specific rules or guidelines just for the sake of tapping back into your roots. I Personally am really drawn to macro photos. I'm going to be shooting with a couple different macro lenses. But if you prefer landscapes or scenery, anything like that, you do not need any specific macro equipment for this class. Do what you love. Take pictures of things that excite you and that bring that sort of joy back into your work for the class project, whether you decide to share or not, I want to see a couple of your favorite images that you took on your little nature's stroll and maybe a couple lines of what you're thinking and feeling as you're going along. It's important to engage all of your senses. Listening to the sounds, and seeing the sights, taking it all in and just enjoying your time outside. I think a lot of my classes are inside using window light in a very specific type of setup, and so this time we're going to switch it up and just play it a little bit. So my name is Tabitha, I'm lifestyle photographer, a content creator and a teacher here at Skillshare. I'm super excited to get out into the wild with you. So let's get started. 2. Get Outside: Thanks so much for joining me. For this class I really wanted to give you an excuse to get outside, break up your usual routine and allow nature to inspire you. I personally find the outdoor so wonderful and healing and peaceful and so when I carve out the opportunity to spend time in nature, it always brings me back to work with a clearer mind, feeling refreshed and recharged and ready to tackle any project on my list. I want to encourage this exploration and adventure in your life and your work. For this class, you will only need two things, a camera and a place outside to explore. I'm going to be using my iPhone and my backup DSLR throughout this class. In the next section, I'm going to talk a little more on macro photography specifically if that interests you, but feel free to explore the style of photos that you are most drawn to, that you find fun and enjoyable throughout your nature walk. When it comes to locations, I want you to choose an outdoor spot that inspires you. Think of trails, parks, gardens, maybe an arboretum, something like that. Just make sure that it's a public place that you are allowed to visit and photograph. Pick somewhere that you feel safe where you can freely explore and enjoy. I recommend bringing a friend with you just for the sake of company and for safety, especially if you are away from the city or if you're somewhere unfamiliar to you. Lastly, I wanted to share a few tips for maybe a better experience, better lighting. My favorite time of day to go is first thing in the morning. When I do my weekly hikes with my friend, we always plan for 8:00 or 9:00 AM and it's beautiful. It's such a wonderful time of day for several reasons. The sun is lower in the sky, so you get these really long, beautiful shadows that sparkle through the trees. It's really, really beautiful. You tend to get a little bit more dew drops. You get that morning dew on plants and flowers, and that's a really fun thing to photograph, and then also the birds tend to be more active in the morning so throughout your walk you'll hear a lot of birds chirping and creatures scuttling, and so that's really fun and enjoyable. You also avoid the main hottest point in the day. I go in the morning because it tends to be 10-20 degrees cooler than the middle heat of the day, and so in the summer that is crucial. If you're going in the spring or fall, you might want to bring a jacket because it'll be a little cooler then. Then, if you can't go first thing in the morning, my second choice would be an evening hike before sunset. You want to have enough light to take pictures, but it will again be a lower light in the sky. You get those long shadows. You tend to get a golden light toward the end of the day, and that can be really beautiful as well. If you absolutely cannot go in the morning or evening and your lunch break is your only option, take advantage of that lunch break, just enjoy being outside. Take 30 minutes and just go for a walk around the building that you work, enjoy the little bushes and plants that are there, whatever you possibly can do. It's just so important to make sure you disconnect from the screens that you might be working on and just be able to fully take in the outdoors. Just a friendly reminder not to leave anything behind, don't leave trash behind, don't carve your name into trees, don't destroy flowers or anything like that. I'm sure none of you would do any of those things, but I just have to throw it out there. We want to keep nature beautiful and wonderful and be respectful to our spaces. In the next section, I'm going to dive into lenses and cameras and settings, specifically for macro photography. 3. Shooting Macro: If you're interested in capturing some macro photos on your nature hike, I wanted to cover a few things. The first is my phone. Taking a macro photo with a smartphone is a little bit tricky. You'll notice that when you get really close to something, you can't focus on it anymore. This is the minimum focal distance. Every camera, every lens has a minimum focal distance. This is the closest you're able to get to your subject and still focus before it just won't focus anymore. You'll notice that the minimum focal distance with your phone might be further away than you want it to be. There's a couple things you can do. The first and probably most obvious is just to zoom in. You can pinch and zoom on your screen to zoom in closer. This tends to lower the quality of the photo a little bit, which isn't that important. Obviously, if we're just doing this for fun, you don't need to have these award-winning desktop background like quality photos or anything like that. But keeping that in mind, you can also just take a photo, get as close as you can, take the photo, and then zoom in after the fact. I've found that this tends to provide a slightly better quality image, and you can even do like a combination of the two. Copying in is something that I would do if I'm posting on Instagram or something like that, and I really wanted to focus in on that spot. A lot of times, our cameras take high enough quality images, that when we crop in, we still have a great image. Then lastly, you could even go and purchase specialty clip on lenses for your phone. I have a set of these. It's sticking a magnifying glass in front of the lens. It can be really tricky to focus with these. I found that the focus, the depth of field is just so dramatic, there's only a teeny bit that's in-focus at all. So they're fun to play with, but don't expect miraculous results necessarily with this. But again, we're just out here having fun. If you're going to use a DSLR mirrorless or points you any camera where you can adjust the lens settings. I have a couple different macro lenses that I use. The first is my Nikon 105 millimeter. It's showing me what's a lot further away. I'm able to get really beautiful macro photos with this lens, because it has already that zoomed in capability. This is a 50 millimeter lens. It's nice because it's so narrow that the light travels through it into the sensor a lot faster than it would with a longer lens. I can still get really close to things and focus with this lens. I found that I can create really beautiful pictures with it. The main difference between these two lenses, other than price, is their actual size. Especially, when we're doing a nature walk, if you're bringing a 105, that's just a really big, really heavy lens. It might weigh your bag down a little bit. It's scary, it's a little more expensive. If you drop it and break it, that's a little scarier. So I recommend something small, compact, affordable. If you were wanting to pick up this sigma 50 millimeter, it's actually discontinued, but you can pick up a used version of it for around $200. This is on B&H, and then this is Adorama site. I don't know the quality of used lenses. I don't typically by used lenses, but this is available, and it is quite affordable if you are shooting. This one says Canon, but you'd have to look for the one for your particular camera. If you are shooting Nikon and you want to buy a new lens, Nikon has a 40-millimeter macro lens. This one is only 276. I've never used this before, but I would be eager to try it. If you're shooting Canon, this is Canon's 35-millimeter macro lens. It's only $300. This is going to give you that same really slim form factor and affordability. If you're shooting a Sony, this one is the 50 millimeter full-frame E-mount. I don't know very much about Sony camera bodies and lens compatibilities, but this would be the smaller form factor as compared to this other Sony macro lens that I found, the biggest difference is it's twice as big and twice as much. This is just over a $1000, whereas the smaller one is under 500. If you're not sure what lens is going to go with your camera, Amazon has this Amazon confirmed fit feature. You can click on exactly what camera you have, type in your model number, and it will tell you whether it thinks this lens is going to fit your camera or not. We're not sure this fits, yeah, because this is a Sony lens. Definitely, if you're in the market for shopping for macro lenses, I always recommend going into your local cameras store, trying out a lens, putting it on your camera, shooting around the store, rent it for a weekend if you can. It's my best recommendation for, before you purchase a lens, make sure you love it before you buy it, if you can. If you don't have a dedicated macro lens, that's totally good. You can just use any lens that you have. Just keep in mind that a kit lens or any cheaper lower end lens might have a bigger minimum focal distance. You have to get a little further away from your subject to get it in focus. I have used a 35-millimeter prime lens and the minimum focal distance on that is great. I'm still able to get pretty close to my plants, and flowers, and bugs. That one is enjoyable for me. It's small, lightweight, affordable, I don't have to worry about it or anything like that. One of the main things for getting a successful, effective macro photo is making sure that it is in focus. Not just making sure that what you want in the photo isn't focused, but it's also not blurry. It's super important to hold still when you're taking pictures with a macro lens. Go ahead and support yourself against a tree or a rock. Make sure you tuck your elbows into your chest, so that you are really rigid and strong, so that you're not shaking the camera in any way. Making sure that your photo is sharply in focus is probably the biggest thing that will either make or break your image. One thing that you can also do, is pay attention to your aperture or your depth of field. If you're getting a close up photo and only like half, let's say, you're photographing this moth, only half of this moth is even in focus, and the rest is blurred because of how narrow the depth of field is. The aperture is really wide open, so only a sliver of the photo is in focus. A couple ways to fix this. Obviously, you can close down your aperture; so smaller whole, larger number. Going to F8, or F11, F16, this is going to increase your focal depth and so more of your image is going to be in focus. You can also just take a step back. If you take a step back and then refocus, your subject is going to be more in focus, it's going to be more zoomed out because you stepped back. But, again, you can crop in a little bit if you need to. These are some settings that you can play with, especially if you are working with a situation where it's just getting too dark, and you're not able to get as properly exposed photos as you want. You have increased your ISO, you've dropped on your shutter speed as low as you can go, which by the way, I don't recommend going below one-hundredth of a second if you're handholding, because it's just really hard to hold still enough to get properly focused images that way. Then you can also just shoot dark images, and then try and edit them in Lightroom after the fact or just embrace your moody photos. These are all things to consider when you are taking your photos. The most important consideration for your gear, your lenses, and everything, is to just make sure you're using something that you enjoy. If you don't enjoy taking pictures, if you're not having a good time, something's not right. We are out here to have a nice time to enjoy nature, and so use equipment that you feel comfortable with, that you're not worried about, so that you don't have to have any of that anxiety when you are out shooting, you can just let go, and enjoy the wild. That's everything that I had for gear. In the next section, I wanted to just tap into some last minute ideas for how to make the most of your time outside. 4. Explore and Enjoy: Before we wrap up, I just wanted to touch on a few last points. Again, we just want to explore, I want you to look at things in a new way, look at the underside of leaves, check out the way the bark is growing, and the lichen, and moss, and listen to birds, watch a butterfly flying around, and take the deepest breath that you've taken all day. Just take in that nature, that beautiful, wonderful fresh smell of outside, listen to the birds, listen to the little chipmunk scuttling around, just be able to take a quiet moment and appreciate everything around you, and be in the moment enjoying every second. I want to encourage you to put your phone or camera away for a few minutes, just sit and appreciate the quietness of the world around you. I want to encourage you to let go of any stress that you're hanging onto. I know me personally, I put a lot of pressure on myself to make deadlines, and do it all by myself, and so I tend to have a lot of stress that I'm hanging onto, I have a lot of like projects and huge to-do lists, and so being able to just put that stuff on the back burner so that I can go outside and enjoy a few quiet moments and nature really just improves my overall happiness. My brain works better, I feel like I can be a better version of myself when I am just giving myself the opportunity to enjoy the world and just take a quiet moment, let my brain rest from all of the crazy. Let go of any stress you have for yourself, any pressure that you have to be anything, don't think about your Instagram account at all, just be outside in nature and just let yourself have this moment. I am giving you permission to do nothing, don't even take pictures if you don't want to take pictures, just get outside, that's the most important part. Appreciate it, look at things with your eyes, and with your mind and your heart, and be present in the moment. That's just my last plead to you. Take this little, take this class as an opportunity to practice a little bit of self-care in your life, especially if you're like me and you just put a lot of pressure on yourself to do everything. You don't have to do anything for this class if you don't want to, but again, if you do want to share a little bit of your journey, a little bit of your quiet moments in the wild, I would totally love to read and experience that with you if you're open to it. Lastly, I just wanted to say thank you so much for watching, I really appreciate, I know this class is a little different from my normal classes but I hope that you take an opportunity to give yourself a few quiet moments, whether its just your compound between your car and your house, just look at something a little longer, breathe a little deeper, give yourself the permission to just enjoy outside, especially in a world where we're just constantly connected to technology. Again, thank you so much for your time. 5. Final Thoughts: That's everything. Thanks so much for taking my class. I hope that you've enjoyed it. I hope that you feel inspired to go outside in nature and dive back into this exploitative play with your photography. If you choose to share your class project with us, make sure you share it here in the project section on skill share. If you want to share on Instagram, please tag me so that I can come by and see. My handle is just @tabithapark at the park and if you have any questions or need any help with anything, please we've aligned in the comments and discussion section here in this class and I will respond to it. Thanks so much for joining me. See you next time.