There's No Place Like Home
As the crow flies, I live 60 miles from Grand Teton National Park. The Teton Valley is even closer.
This proximity isn't always a good thing; it can become a bit of a trap. Often, aspiring nature photographers who also live in this area tell me they're frustrated by the fact that they can't be in the Park frequently. As a result, they say they have little opportunity to practice.
The only way to learn and improve is to get out there and shoot. As much as possible. If you're only going to shoot when visiting an exotic or iconic locale, your camera won't get much use. A well-known destination isn't a prerequisite. The solution is simple. Put the camera to work at home.
One of the best ways to develop both skill and creativity is to work locally. I guarantee you will find interesting subject matter within reasonable proximity regardless of where you live. The more you look, the more you'll see. The more you're able to "see" the interesting - and perhaps even the extraordinary - in the ordinary, the more potential compositions you'll find when you do visit well-known destinations.
Unlike the crow, who can fly directly from my house to Grand Teton National Park, I'm stuck traveling via pavement and over two mountain passes; my mileage is higher than his. I'm nearby, but not so close that I can rush over to take advantage of rapidly changing weather conditions. Or drop by every week. It requires a bit of a commitment. Bottom line: I'm not constantly in the Park. I look for subject matter closer to home, too.
Especially in the spring, you'll find me in my yard and gardens with the macro lens. (I'm a pushover for plant life.) Last summer I started working on a series of abstracts featuring monsoonal storm clouds. I can watch them forming over the Teton Range from my front porch; you can't get much more convenient than that. Another series features a fire-scarred, dilapidated buck and rail fence just a few miles away. I've been shooting that off and on for a few years. Eastern Idaho is agricultural; once the crops are established I'll prowl around country roads looking to see what I can do with fields of canola or wheat or potatoes. And so on.
Your camera doesn't want to be cooped up in the bag; pull it out and get to work!
You may never do anything with some of the images you make. It doesn't matter. It will be time well spent.
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