Updated: Nov 4, 2018
Reflecting back on my photography journey, I recently realised how much I've learnt whilst pursuing landscape and nature photography as a hobby. I wouldn't say it has opened up a new world for me; rather it has made me appreciate the one I've already been living in.
Here's a list of seven things that landscape and nature photography has taught or given me.
1. Encouraged me to travel
Let's start with the obvious. Landscape photography is all about capturing the beauty of different landscapes. So you have to get out there and explore new places. That has exposed me to new environments and cultures, and allowed me to make new friends along the way!
My search for different landscapes has taken me to some really beautiful places, both locally and internationally. New Zealand, Switzerland and Italy are some of my favourite photography destinations. And I've still got many places on my bucket list.
2. Made me see the "ordinary" in a new light
While landscape photography gave me a taste for travel, it also made me see my local surroundings with a fresh perspective.
A little wetlands area that we used to drive past regularly suddenly became a piece of heaven. I've stopped by for some nice sunset shots on a number of occasions, but one I took on a winter morning this year is my favourite.
We don't have to pay thousands of dollars to find beautiful places on this planet. I've started exploring the numerous parks, beaches and nature reserves close to home, which provide some unique photography opportunities.
3. Taught me to pay attention to nature
Nature photography requires me to spend a lot of time in nature. In the process of photographing it, I've started noticing the subtle aspects of nature.
I've been watching how the environment gradually changes as seasons change - certainly, no two weeks in autumn ever look the same! I've started paying attention to the position of the sun at different times of the day and year. I keep track of sunrise and sunset times. I think about when rivers would have the best flow, or when the skies would be at their darkest. Because landscape and nature photography is all about timing.
4. Enhanced my appreciation for the environment
Flowing on from the third point, nature photography has made me appreciate how wonderfully and intelligently nature is engineered. It's quite an overwhelming feeling when you realise how amazingly the different elements work together.
I'm a bit disappointed that we've distanced ourselves from nature so much, because it all seems so interconnected. In fact, my hope in sharing my photography is to inspire others to reconnect with nature. If I can influence even one person to spend more time outdoors, even if its at a local park, I'll feel like I've made a worthwhile contribution to this universe.
There is no doubt still a lot for me to learn about nature, and I'm looking forward to being even more fascinated as the mystery unravels further!
5. Allowed me to express my creativity
Growing up, I never felt like a creative person. But after I started sharing my photos, I found a lot of people were admiring my work. That made me believe that I had a creative side too.
When I first got into photography, I was inspired by the work of some really talented photographers out there. Before going somewhere, I'd research the location and see how others have captured that landscape.
But overtime, I found myself relying less and less on others. In fact, I found that the shots I hadn't tried copying would stand out more and were appreciated more. So I guess I've started trusting my own sense of creativity.
6. Forced me to become flexible
As with life generally, things in photography will often not go according to plan. Sometimes the weather gods will not cooperate, or maybe a place will be too crowded. Photography teaches you to make the most of whatever you have!
In 2015, we went on a much awaited trip to New Zealand's South Island. On the very first day of our week-long trip, I managed to break my favourite lens. Suddenly, I had to get out of my comfort zone and adapt to a different lens. I ended up photographing most of South Island using a wide-angle lens, which required me to get quite close to my subjects. I had to compromise on the detail when it came to photographing mountains, but I still managed to highlight some grand scenes in my wide-angle shots.
Above all, and probably as a result of all of the above factors, landscape and nature photography just makes me happy. When I stand in front of beautiful scenes, I feel immense happiness. And when I come home and see my photos, I still feel happy. What more could I ask for?