This week’s Self-Care Sunday post has tips that help you improve your  photography skills. So pull out your cell phone or your DSLR and get ready to make your day!

How Improving Your Photography Can Improve Your Day

Ok, I can’t actually promise that when you improve your photography techniques your day will magically improve as well. But I can tell you what works for me. Taking a walk with my camera—whether I lug along my DSLR or tuck my iPhone in my pants pocket—can greatly improve my mood.

Researchers have discovered that spending time in nature can actually improve our mood better than using anti-depressants.  According to studies done in Japan, forest bathing (drinking in the forest), can have positive benefits on our immune system and cancer-fighting capabilities, too. When we allow ourselves to breathe deeply of the forest scents, we take care of ourselves in important ways.

Even better, we can combine spending time in nature with nurturing our creative side. Fall provides the perfect palette for trying new things. Schedule in an hour or two, or even a half day this fall for wandering around with your eyes open for beauty.

The shocking yellows, oranges, and reds pop against cobalt skies. Colorful leaves paint water golden hues, providing stunning backdrops for waterfowl. Bright leaves scattered on curtains of cascading water paint peaceful reminders of God’s love.

When you improve your skill at something, you also improve your mood because learning new skills makes us happy.  (Dark chocolate also improves your mood, and it makes you smarter, so maybe you should stuff a dark chocolate bar in your pocket when you go out for your photo tour).

Dark chocolate, new skills, self-care, and happiness. Find out how they're connected (and how to take better photos). #photography #darkchocolate #selfcare Click To Tweet

Tips for Improving Your Photography Technique

1. Change your point of view. Don’t just stand there, lay on the lawn and take a photo of a pile of leaves. Lay on your back and shoot up at light filtering down through the leaves.

2. Get up close and personal. Move in as close as possible to your subject and let the camera pick up tiny details. Leaves have veins. Butterflies have feathers.

improve3. Look for unusual pairings, and capture them. Hummingbirds don’t usually hang out on sunflowers, so I knew when I saw one searching for nectar, I needed to capture it. You might find pumpkins partially buried in an eimproveimprovearly snowfall, or lacy frost outlining a tree stump.

4. Adjust your depth of field. The smaller your f-stop, the less depth of field your photo will have. You can even do this with an iPhone. Simply click on the area you want to stay in focus (in the foreground of your photo), and the camera will create a bit of bokeh (blurry background) for the rest of the photo.

5. Time matters. The best time to shoot? Photographers call the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset the ‘Golden Hours.’ At this time of day, the distance of the sun from the earth acts as a diffuser to the light, creating softer, richer colors. Spending time in nature during the golden hour always inspires me.

More Advanced Tips for Nature Photography

6. Get dramatic. Even if you miss the first hour after sunrise, you can use the position of the sun and your position as a photographer to create dramatic photos. Find something to photograph that faces the sun (this works best if the sun has only been up a few hours). Now, move to the side of that object so that you form a 90˚ or slightly more obtuse angle. The sun is one point, the object is where the angle forms, and you are the third point. Snap a few photos and notice how the background turns dark, almost black. The yellows and oranges really pop.Improve your photography, improve your life. Ok, not exactly. But learning new skills will make your happy! #selfcare #photography

7. Slow down the water. This works best with a DSLR camera where you can control the shutter speed and the ISO. Use a tripod (or a photographer’s bean bag) to hold your camera in place. Lower your ISO to 100, and set the f-stop at 22 (these settings will make it nearly impossible to get a great shot unless your camera rests on a tripod or non-moving surface). Use your camera’s built-in timer to have the camera release the shutter (you depressing the button could ruin your image). If possible, raise the mirror on your camera, too.


What is your favorite way to nurture your inner artist in the Fall?

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

Don’t forget to visit our other #InspireMeMonday host site over at Blessed (but Stressed)!

A bonus for you!

Subscribe to receive weekly reminders about the Inspire Me Monday Link up, and I'll send you Ten Quick Ways to Make Your Blog Better.

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  1. Thank you for the photography tips, Anita. I sure can use all the tips I can get. My pictures often look posed or stiff. Yours are beautiful. I will have to take my phone out and play!

    I don’t see a place to link up this week. Am I missing something?

  2. Anita, these are such great tips. We are getting ready to spend a few days in TN for our anniv. and I’m going to use some of these ideas while in the Smoky Mountains! So thank you! Blessings! xo

  3. Anita, it has been on my heart to start taking some photos and your post will be so helpful. Your photos are always stunning so I am hoping with your tips perhaps mine will be as well 🙂 Thank you!

  4. Anita, these are fantastic tips and I am most grateful. I always loved photography and now I use the camera to help me see things that my natural eyes just don’t anymore. Zoom is a wonderful thing. But I didn’t know about some of these tips, particularly about creating the bokeh with the iPhone. THANK YOU!!

    As to your photos, I love sunflowers AND waterfalls. I would be hard-pressed to choose between them. Glad I didn’t have to!

  5. Anita, I do feel better when I go for a walk and take pictures. Thank you for the tips. I am going to save this on my photography board so I can come back to it and try to adjust my camera settings. Maree

  6. Anita, you know this post made my heart happy. Walking in nature, especially when I have my camera, makes my heart sing. I appreciate your suggestions for capturing photos with some new techniques. I’m eager to see our leaves change color. And I’m planning to find new places to explore this autumn. New photos and backdrops to capture.

    Your photos in this post are beautiful!

    1. One of these days, maybe when we’re old and gray…wait…I’m ALREADY gray and my students think I’m old…but I digress–you and I need to go on a photography trip together!

  7. Thanks for these tips! Since getting a nice 35 mm, I love taking photos even more. I feel like I’m always learning. But I’ve learned a lot too. I knew that for sure when I laid on the ground to get photos of some mushrooms.

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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