Photography Close To Home

Some memorable photographs can be taken right in your own neighbourhood or least within a comfortable drive from your home.  Although it is nice to be able to travel and to take pictures of exotic places, if you think about it carefully for a moment I bet there are several areas you can think of where you could easily spend a few hours photographing a number of different subjects.

The beach is always a good option.  If you live close to the coast, you have the option of visiting at various times of the day.  Beaches and coasts are renowned for their sunrise and sunset shots, but there other options too.  The patterns in the hard packed sand near the water line can make excellent black and white images, or if the light is good with plenty of colour, the reflections from the wet ripples in the sand can be colourful and very photogenic.

Grange JettyCredit: Steven Pike

Consider also structure such as jetties, piers and rock walls.  They do not have to be a subject in their entirety, but parts of each structure could be the subject itself.  Jetty railings for example, are often tinged with rust and the paint flaking from the wood.  Close ups of such areas, in good light, can make quite interesting photos. 

Sand dunes are another part of the coast that lends itself very well to photography.  Once again it’s the patterns in the sand that form the basis of such shots, but there is also the vegetation and animal tracks in the sand that can be photographed.

If you have a river or creek near your home, then you have an almost unlimited source of subjects.  Consider the trees; themselves often great subjects.  I am lucky enough to live right near a creek with a population of the huge River Red Gums, a massive eucalyptus tree with gnarly old branches and heaps of hollows.  They have lots of character, but, because of their size, they are very difficult to photograph.  Concentrating on patterns and the bark, leaves and branches is a better option.

Rivers and creeks also usually have an abundance of animal and bird life.  The water too, can be a subject in itself, especially if there is any movement.  Rapids and fast flowing water can be shot using a slow shutter speed to produce a nice smooth image.  If the water is still, then opportunities arise for reflection shots.

Look even closer and you will notice insects and small flowers, seed pods and grasses, all of which may make suitable macro subjects.

Major highways, train and bus stations and airports all offer the chance to record some interesting transportation images.  This can be quite moody shots, depending on the scene itself or the time of day taken.  I have seen some great shots of train stations at peak times, one memorable image in particular showed commuters heading home at peak hour on a miserable, rainy day.  It was a very grey image with splashes of colour from clothing and umbrellas, and it had an overall depressing feel to it.  Very powerful shot though.

Industrial areas are another excellent spot to take a few shots.  Often best at night, you can produce some quality spooky shots with nice soft lighting.  Open areas surrounded by stacked shipping containers or pallets and lit with only the orange florescent light at night are brilliant images if done correctly.  Barbed wire and fences are good subjects too, along with the old ‘keep out’ and ‘no trespassing’ signs.  The key to interesting pictures in such areas is the lighting.  Nearly all the good ones I have seen have been at night.

Botanical gardens are a brilliant spot to spend a few hours with the camera.  There will likely be hundreds of varieties of plants to choose from, some from other parts of the world.  Visiting in autumn will guarantee some lovely reds, browns and yellows and plenty of leaf litter on the ground.  Birds are usually plentiful in botanic gardens and are often not quite as shy, being used to having people wandering around, allowing you get quite close.

Our botanical gardens here have special areas offering even more opportunities for photographers.  We have a ‘hothouse’ made from glass in which is housed the Blue Lotus Water Lily.  It is a beautiful flower and you able to get very close; excellent for macro shots.  There is also a fern house in a thatched shelter.  The sunlight streams through gaps in the thatch.  It is tricky to get the camera setting right to capture the light and the ferns in a pleasing effect, but it is worth the effort.  A tripod is a good idea due to the low light conditions.

Local sporting events offer another opportunity, although gaining permission beforehand is essential.  You will get some funny looks if you just turn up and start taking pictures.  Check with organisers first.

There are a few dog parks close by to where I live and, having a dog, this has provided me with another option for a few photos.  The dog is allowed to run free within the park, socialising with other dogs and generally enjoying himself.  You can take shots of your dog behaving naturally and without having the backyard fence, garage or side of the house in the picture.

The local zoo is one of the best spots to take your camera.  You can have a go at all sorts of different animals and take the time to sit and watch how they behave.  Often the lighting isn’t exactly how you would like it, especially in some of the more heavily forested enclosures.  But it often takes just a little patience to sit there and watch the animals.  Quite often they will move into a more favourable spot and you can get the shot.

Tram StopCredit: Steven Pike

Recently I was at our local zoo attempting to grab a few pictures of the baby mandrill.  However he would leave his mothers side for a short time only before snuggling back into her or hanging on to her belly and she moved around the enclosure.  I watched for a couple of hours and in that time, the baby only sat still in the sunlight for a couple of seconds.  I managed a couple of pictures though and the big male was quite content sitting in the sun, so I took some nice shots of him.

In terms of subjects and areas for photography, you really are limited only by your own imagination.  It is not always necessary to travel vast distances for decent subjects.  I’m sure that there would be some suitable areas, different to those mentioned above, close to your home.