Outdoors

Kids can see nature differently through the lens of a camera

Birds of prey like eagles and hawks have vision up to eight times sharper than human vision. An eagle, for example, may be able to see a mouse from up to a mile away.

While we can’t see as well as some birds, photography can help us to see things in new ways. Nature photography is a fun way to get outdoors and learn about the natural world.

You don’t have to go far to get good shots — there’s nature in your own backyard.

Whether you’re taking pictures of flowers or wildlife, here are some tips for getting better shots.

BLEND IN: To get the perfect photo of a deer in the forest, think like the deer. Dress in muted colors that blend in with your surroundings, and wear fabrics that won’t make a lot of noise. You might have to be still for long periods of time so you don’t scare away the animals.

LIGHT: The best light will be at sunrise and sunset, when the sun isn’t as harsh. Try to position yourself so that the sun is behind you or to one side — too much direct sunlight will result in a washed-out photo. Similarly, it might be difficult to capture a scene if there is very little light.

PLACEMENT: Imagine a tic-tac-toe board in the frame of your photo and try to position the main subject in one of the squares. It can make for an interesting photo to place the subject off to one side or in the top or bottom corner instead of the center of the photo.

LOOK CLOSELY: Even when there aren’t animals nearby, the world around you always has something to offer. Look closer to find textures you hadn’t noticed before. Try looking at plants from different angles — from below, from the side, from the top or from the middle. Notice the different colors in water and even grass. Find patterns in flowers or dirt.

ANGLE: If you usually take pictures in landscape mode (hamburger style) try taking some in portrait mode (hotdog style). Instead of taking the picture straight on, try a photo from above or below or at an angle to emphasize different parts of what you’re photographing.

ZOOM IN: A photo will be more pleasing if it has one focal point instead of a bunch of things competing for your attention. Get in close to the subject. Try to find more neutral backgrounds. Let the subject fill the entire photo — a tall tree, for example, might look better in portrait mode.

TRY THIS

Can’t find birds in the wild to photograph? Let them come to you.

Try this simple, natural-looking bird feeder to attract birds for photographing.

Find a pine cone — the kind with wide spaces between the scales works best. Go on a walk to gather a few, or if you can’t find any, craft stores often have them.

Tie a string to the top, long enough to attach to a tree. Spread peanut butter on the pine cone until it is fully coated. (For people with peanut allergies, vegetable lard works great.) Then roll the coated pine cone in bird seed. You can make your own bird seed by combining any raw nuts and seeds you have.

Then hang your bird feeder in your backyard or outside a window where you will be ready to photograph any birds that come along.

TAKE A CLASS

For more ideas, try the Tacoma Nature Center’s class on taking pictures with your phone. This class, for ages 8-adult, will be held Saturday from 1-3 p.m. The cost is $25 per adult/child pair or $25 per adult.

The same class, but for adults only, will be held May 14 from 4-6 p.m.

Also for adults will be a class on creating a nature scavenger hunt for your kids using photos and other cellphone technology. It will be April 9 from 6-8 p.m. This class is $25 per participant.

Visit tacomanaturecenter.org for more information.

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