Shooting close to home

By Ellen Bedrosian

I’m sure I’m not unique among photographers when I see images from far away places and wish I had the time and resources to go there and shoot them myself. The aurora borealis in Iceland, Chinese fishermen on rafts in the early morning mist, snow-covered bison in Yellowstone National Park … they’re all images calling out to me to capture them.

Sometimes, though, we have no choice but to listen to the whispers of the images that surround us everyday, close to home, that may be worthy of our attention as well. I like to walk around my neighborhood on warm, summer evenings with my camera, always on the lookout for something new to shoot. It was on one such walk that I captured this image, which after some manipulation, won Image of the Year in Beginner class in 2008.

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Now, not every neighborhood grab is going to win an award, but that’s not really the point. Honing your photography prowess close to home accomplishes a few things. First of all, it gets you familiar with your camera so you know how it works without even thinking. That way, when you do find yourself face-to-face with a pride of lions hunting zebra on a savanna in the Serengeti, you won’t be shooting in automatic mode.

Of course, you don’t even have to travel out of the suburbs to find wildlife to shoot. Backyard feeders and birth baths will attract many challenging subjects. Sometimes, a walk at dusk to a nearby park might give you a chance to master your face-to-face technique — even if the subject isn’t nearly as fierce as a lion. This fawn was shot at Davis Johnson Park in Tenafly.

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Simple subjects discovered while exploring blocks near your home can also present opportunities to experiment with Photoshop filters. A blue bench sitting on the porch of a house a few blocks from mine gave me the opportunity to play with the artistic filters. By using colored pencil filter on this image, I scored an HM a few years ago.

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Inspiring images can also be found a short drive away. TCC field trips are wonderful opportunities to explore new places with other photographers. The fun part about shooting with others is getting and giving advice, and seeing subjects that you might have missed but caught someone else’s eye.  Take a look at the gallery from our recent field trip to PA waterfalls and Sussex County barns to see the many treasures captured close to home.

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