When a friend asked Matthew and I (as well as another biologist friend of ours) to help with the Earth Day Celebration she was putting together at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park, we were all about it.

Matthew created a poster and pulled samples of local invasive plants, our other friend put together an experiment for kids to extract DNA from strawberries, and I prepped a walk & talk on smartphone nature photography.

Here, in my professional opinion, are the basic tips for an average person who wants to make beautiful visual memories while surrounded by nature:

  • Find the Light – Where does your eye naturally go? Most people prefer soft, warm colors. Avoid harsh light and shadows when possible.
  • Think – Why this picture? Focus on the most important part of the image. Minimize distractions that may also be in-frame.
  • Change the Perspective –Where is the most interesting point of view? Try high and low angles and walk around the subject. Avoid digital zoom.
  • Steady the Shot –If a tripod isn’t available, place the camera on something solid or hold it against your body.
  • Befriend the Camera –Know your tools! Learn tips, tricks, and shortcuts for your particular camera and be ready when the moment strikes.

And here’s a Pinnable/downloadable version:

The gallery in this post are some of the nature photographs I’ve taken throughout the years. Notice that just following the rules doesn’t automatically make a photograph visually pleasing; the subject matter needs to be interesting, too!