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Nature/Outdoor Photography… may be just what you’ve been looking for!

For River folks of all ages the world of nature and all of its beauty is literally waiting just outside your door.  This could be all new to you or you may already be a bird watcher - or an outdoor photographer - or someone who simple loves all the treasures involved in our spectacular River world.

All Photographs by Bill Munro © 2013. Click to enlarge

If you are looking for a new hobby to get deeply involved in, may I suggest outdoor photography.  Now be warned… once you jump into the “outdoor thing”, it will take over your life and lead you to a multitude of other outdoor pleasures and pursuits.  That’s a good thing! (But always remember, our natural world must be protected and enhanced for future generations through conservation and stewardship programs.)

It is impossible to deeply appreciate nature without getting involved.  But, I am getting way ahead of myself.  Back on track… you need a CAMERA to get started, as well as a good Bird Guide to Eastern Birds (I like the Sibley version) and perhaps, binoculars.

Back to the camera.  Find a good camera shop for knowledgeable help.  Also talk with friends who are into photography. You don’t need to ‘sell the farm” to buy your first camera.  Keep it simple.  You can buy an SLR digital camera with extra lenses.  Prices will vary on models, but they are expensive. Perhaps buy a “point and shoot” digital camera.  They run well under $500 and will serve you well both on close-ups and long range shots; you will not be disappointed.  So my advice is start with a point and shoot; lighter, smaller and easier to carry.  Buy a large capacity, or at least 4GB camera card.  You can always move up later to an SLR camera.

Now you  have your camera. Read the owner’s manual.  Understand the function, setting and limitations.  Now start shooting… the more shots, the more you will learn.  Get used to the camera.  It is your friend, not your enemy.  Unlike film cameras, you have almost unlimited capacity for numbers of photos you can take.  If you don’t like a shot you’ve taken.. delete!  Take the camera everywhere you go. All the time.  Wonderful photo opportunities are everywhere.  Don’t be sorry you don’t your camera with you.

For shooting nature the very best times are early morning and late afternoon.  The light, as the sun comes up and goes down is breathtaking.  Early morning  is also when everything in the world of nature “wakes up.”  Just grab your camera, maybe a mug of coffee and find a special spot to sit… or get into your kayak…  Sit, relax, go slowly and be patient.

Be in touch with your surroundings.  Look up, look down for movement or sounds.  Certainly trees and bushes will have more birds than other vegetation.  Birds of prey, like eagles, osprey, hawks and owls build large, unusually visible nests; don’t get too close as it will stress them.  Stay back and study their comings and goings.  You might even set up a concealed blind, sit and wait, they will come.

Bay and shorelines will be home and highway for many River dwellers, such as Great Blue Herons, ducks, Canada Geese, shorebirds (even a muskrat, mink or otter might surprise you). Shoals and small islands will always hold gulls, terns and cormorants. Our island interiors offer many different habitats for a wide range of plants, animals, birds and insects. The best place of all may be your own backyard. Feeders and certain plants will also help bring birds in. But, regardless, warblers, songbirds, woodpeckers and much more will pass through on migration, both Spring and Fall. Many will enjoy our area and stay for the summer.

Nature photography may involve living things, but outdoor photo shooting should and must include our River life. So look for good light and weather conditions, including fog, mist, dew, rain (shower cap on your equipment) and wind, along with our usual beautiful River weather. You know what I'm talking about...freighters, tall ships, lighthouses, boathouses, antique boats, island architecture old and new. Our River and everything on it, in it and near it are subjects just waiting for your camera.

So, get up early, enjoy the moment, go slowly, be patient, remember there are no bad photos. It's what YOU like...experiment, be creative, "think outside the box." Oh, I forgot, another reason to step into the outdoor world is it gets you away from ever present technology and off the couch. Being outside is also good for the body, mind and spirit, plus it's exercise. And, finally, when you get that great image, thank your subject for being there for you! Whatever it may be; without its cooperation you wouldn't have a photo would you?!

Your new "sport" is part luck, part knowing your equipment, part skill and creativity, part knowing your subject and having its cooperation, throw in a bit of patience, and yes, having your camera in hand. Go out and discover a new lifetime gift to yourself. Keep in touch. See you on The River. I also expect to see your photography on the pages of this fine publication.

Bill Munro, Murray Isle

Bill Munro, a photographer with a keen eye.  He and and his wife Judy, are well-known “birders”. They summer on Murray Isle and winter in West Palm Beach, Florida, his family’s home town. They volunteer for several organizations and share their love of the River with friends and family.

  • Great Blue heron: Reflecting beauty. Bill Munro © 2013

    Great Blue heron: Reflecting beauty. Bill Munro © 2013

  • Common Tern:  River favorite. Photo Bill Munro © 2013

    Common Tern:  River favorite. Photo Bill Munro © 2013

  • Red Winged Blackbird:  Announcing Spring. Photo Bill Munro © 2013

    Red Winged Blackbird:  Announcing Spring. Photo Bill Munro © 2013

  • Common Merganser:  Faster! Photo Bill Munro © 2013

    Common Merganser:  Faster! Photo Bill Munro © 2013

  • Mallard Ducks:  Keeping watch. Photo Bill Munro © 2013

    Mallard Ducks:  Keeping watch. Photo Bill Munro © 2013

  • Day Lilies: July spectacle. Photo Bill Munro © 2013

    Day Lilies: July spectacle. Photo Bill Munro © 2013

  • Osprey:  Perfect perch. Photo Bill Munro © 2013

    Osprey:  Perfect perch. Photo Bill Munro © 2013

  • Two ships:   History on The River. Photo Bill Munro © 2013

    Two ships:   History on The River. Photo Bill Munro © 2013


Posted in: Photography, Nature
Please feel free to leave comments about this article using the form below. Comments are moderated and we do not accept comments that contain links. As per our privacy policy, your email address will not be shared and is inaccessible even to us. For general comments, please email the editor.


JR Miller
Comment by: JR Miller ( )
Left at: 8:53 AM Friday, February 15, 2013
Thanks for the wonderful shots and it's message for all of us to slow down and see the river beauty which is all around us!
Erin Greene
Comment by: Erin Greene
Left at: 2:15 PM Friday, February 15, 2013
Bill, you have a gift! Thank you for sharing your exquisite photos and for encouraging the rest of us to get out there and shoot.
Martin Zonnenberg
Comment by: Martin Zonnenberg ( )
Left at: 7:50 PM Friday, February 15, 2013
Bill, that's fantastic nature photography and a great inspiring article. And you are right: Every day, every morning, all those outdoor wonders and beauty are there again, just waiting to be seen.
Thanks for sharing
Martin Zonnenberg, Grindstone Island
Valleri Brauer
Comment by: Valleri Brauer ( )
Left at: 8:07 PM Friday, February 15, 2013
A very enjoyable article, Bill. Getting out in nature, peaceful and serene, sure has a positive affect on one's health. And tie it together with outdoor photography makes it extra special. "A thing of beauty is a joy forever", when you take that picture, it is everlasting.
Bill, your photos are spectacular. Great article!!!! And... now Judy is taking great shots, too!!
Dick Withington
Comment by: Dick Withington ( )
Left at: 9:21 AM Saturday, February 16, 2013
I love your pictures. I think you and Martin Zonnenberg have finally convinced me to carry a little camera with me on my outings. I enjoy watching the birds and learning about nature, and this will help me to share that joy. Dick
Doug McLellan
Comment by: Doug McLellan ( )
Left at: 9:43 AM Saturday, February 16, 2013
Wonderful pictures and good advice for everyone who can grab a camera! A real treat on this grey winter day for my River-deprived soul. We're counting the days now (last year was March 15) and I know that like you, even after 25 years, I'll be looking at favourite views with my camera and seeing completely new moments.
Cheers ... Doug (Wood Isle - Lake Fleet Group)
Carrie Kerr
Comment by: Carrie Kerr ( )
Left at: 11:43 AM Monday, February 25, 2013
We have both been photographing our "friends" on the River for some years, and have STR calendars to document our developing skills. I could not agree with you more that there is not a better way to enjoy The River! At this piont, you have set a high bar for photo quality! My guess is that you spend lots of time watching and waiting with a significant telephoto on a SLR camera to get the detail your pictures reveal. I take many of my photos in a kayak so stick with less expensive equipment, in case of a dunking. However, I wonder how much photoshopping you do to enhance what you get.

May 2013 bring you many more great shots!

Carrie Kerr

Bill Munro
Comment by: Bill Munro ( )
Left at: 10:36 PM Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Thank you for your kind words. As to your question about how much photoshopping I do. Answer....none. All photos are exactly as shot, no enhancement. I wouldn't even know how to begin. I'm one of those dinosaurs that avoids the computer.

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