Hello, my friends!
It’s been so long since I’ve done an “explore with me” post. Remember those? I started this series to motivate myself (and you!) to get outside, even when it’s not super appealing, like in winter. I take you guys with me on a walk around our farm, adding in a little twist or art/photography prompt that you can try where you live as well.
Today’s prompt is to bring a bag, tote, or other container along on your walk and collect things you find interesting. If you live in the city, it could be man-made bits and pieces – coins, old papers, a lost toy, etc. – but since I live in the country and have plenty of woods to roam through, I decided to collect some nature.
(Please note, of course, to take only what is allowed where you live! A park is not the best place to collect specimens of live plants, for instance. 😉 If you have a decent-sized yard, you can find interesting things just outside your house, on your own land.)
So, want to see what I found in the woods? Let’s go!
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Here’s a sampling of my collection: pinecones, ferns, sweet gum balls, moss, and dried leaves. I also found three miniscule buds on a fallen log, but sadly I forgot to take a picture after carefully holding them in my hand all the way home. 😥 RIP, tiny tree buds. Also Megan needed to use my camera that day, so by the time I took the following pictures, the ferns had dried up. Oh well.
Alright, so my purpose of gathering interesting bits of outdoor things was to arrange them in little collections for interesting photos. I’ve been inspired to do this for a long time, mostly because of Mary Jo Hoffman’s blog/Instagram called STILL, which you can check out here. I love the way she highlights her collections by photographing them on a simple white or black background.
Accordingly, here’s a simple picture of an adorable piece of moss. (How moss can look cute, I do not know. But ISN’T IT?) For these photos, I simply placed my subject on a piece of white foamboard next to a window and turned on my studio lights for extra brightness. You can use just a piece of white paper and a window, though, and lighten it up with editing later.
When you’re collecting, I recommend finding several kinds of one item since that often makes for more interesting pictures.
Moss is one of my favorite things. I love the variety of textures and shades of green it comes in.
I also brought out my macro lens to capture the tiny details on the tiny details I brought back. 🙂
Something about observing nature so closely is really relaxing. And awe-inducing. I mean, look at the intricacies and variety of color on this one little piece of a little piece of moss which is a little piece of a woods which is… well, you get the point.
The macro lens I use (see it here on Amazon) has helped train my eyes to search out and enjoy small beauties in the world around me, like this finger of moss on an old, discarded nut shell.
A branch of pine needles looks quite different up close. It ends in a sort of little flower. Huh.
Don’t be afraid to highlight the imperfections in whatever you find. The broken scale on this pinecone makes an interesting focal point.
There’s an abundance of sweet gum balls like this where I live, and though I’ve seen tons of them, I’m still fascinated by their wild, spiky shape.
Okay, back to my regular lens! I love this neutral, creamy color scheme, ahh. Lichen can be so pretty.
One of my favorite parts about this photo challenge was playing around with composition. These next two pictures are actually just different versions of the same photo. O.o
Don’t underestimate the power of “crop” and “rotate” for photos like these! Which version do you like better? I like the first because of how it highlights the similarities in shape, and the second because it’s unexpected.
Twigs are interesting things to photograph. I love looking at the shapes of tree branches in the winter because they differ so much from tree to tree. When I saw this little guy studded with pearly lichen, I knew he had to go into my collecting bag. 🙂
I recommend experimenting with single subjects as well as collections/arrangements of many subjects together. You can make collections based on similar color, similar type, similar shape, etc. Here’s a collection of brown:
And here’s a collection of pinecones:
Another fun thing to do is to make pictures or faces from what you collect. This part reminds me more of the last “explore with me” post, which you can see here. Have a strange-looking caterpillar. 😀
And a good-natured smiley guy with a spiky dimple in his smile. 🙂
We’re back to sweet gum pods again. I collected these in different stages. See how some of them are large, red, spiky, and have stems; and the others are small, brown, less spiky, and stemless? Look for objects that change as they either grow or disintegrates. Capture the process.
Hehe, they stick to each other pretty well if you mesh their spikes together. Here’s a… Mickey Mouse head or something? 😛
Dead leaves can make surprisingly interesting subjects too. I especially like ones with imperfections like this hole-y one. (REMEMBER FRED?)
It’s hard to tell on a screen, but this guy was huge! I really like the way oak leaves look.
Here’s another collection. At first I was going to say there wasn’t really anything similar about it, but no, there is! These are all leaves of some kind. Look at the diversity! Isn’t it crazy and wonderful how many marvelous things God has created for us to enjoy? Instead of just one kind of leaf, he’s created… I dunno, thousands!
And even between evergreen trees – look how different these needles are from one another!
We’ll end with a couple of black and whites because I couldn’t resist. 😛 I think the still, weighty feeling B&W lends to a picture works well with the goal of this photoshoot.
Ooh yes, I love these! I was delighted to find a little puffball in the woods. I’m not sure of their proper name, but basically they’re little mushrooms with a crinkly shell holding tons and tons of spores that puff out like smoke when squeezed.
I always have way too much fun doing this when I find one. XD
And with this pair of baby pinecones, my nature collections have come to an end (for this post, at least). *bows*
Well, that was fun! I hope you guys enjoyed scrolling through those simple photos, and that they reminded you to go outside and enjoy the glorious world God has given us. 🙂 If you use this prompt and decide to post about it, feel free to leave a link in the comments and I’ll check it out!
Which bit of nature made the most interesting photo, in your opinion? What would you collect outside if you used this prompt?
Thanks so much for reading, my friends, and have a lovely day!
P. S. Photos taken with my Nikon D3400 and a 35mm lens. Edited with Lightroom.