The Genesis Project 2.0
Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy – your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself.Annie Leibovitz
Last year we were looking for a way to get back to our roots. As with most photographers we too started out shooting flowers and nature scenes. It’s easily accessible for most people and doesn’t require to much gear to just go out and shoot. Now, that’s not to say being a nature photographer is an easy task at all, as with any genre of art there are people who are naturally gifted and those that have to work a little harder to make quality images. However, nature is one of the few subjects that it’s hard to take a bad photograph of.
Having spent the majority of our careers shooting people, we did not own a “Super zoom lens” (something over 200 mm). We did have our trusted Macro lenses, but getting that reach you can achieve with something 400 mm + we had not felt yet. So we hopped over to borrowlenses.com and rented the Sigma 150-600 mm C lens for 7 days. It was the longest rental we could afford at the time so we wanted to make the most of it. We spent a few weeks planning out locations and shots we wanted to get with the rental lens. When the lens was delivered in the afternoon we had around 8 hours to figure out all its functions and prep for the next 7 days. That night was a full moon and so we decided to take a test shot just to see what the lens was capable of. Here is the shot, handheld with our Nikon D850 from our front porch.
After we spent the week shooting sunrises and nature, We knew that this project was something we needed to do annually just to help clear our minds from the daily grind of commercial work. So we decided to save up to buy the lens. Which brings us to this year.
We had scheduled the full 7 days of shooting. This years project was scheduled on the same week as last year, which was full of lush greens, bugs and flowers. However, this year our local areas were still cold, brown and there was not a whole lot of wildlife around yet. After day 5 we made the decision to pause the project due to this year’s unpredictable weather patterns. Choosing to reschedule the remaining few days was such a good call. While rescheduling is not something we like to do, the added few weeks gave nature time to blossom into full on summer.
We all have stress in our life. It could be your Job, your home life, or your past still haunting you. We all need to find a way to disconnect from that crushing weight that we all carry on our backs every day. While some people take a vacation to a tropical beach and spend way too much money on towel boy tips and margaritas, Others do Yoga or just go get drunk every night. For us there is nothing like grabbing your kit and some soup bowl sized headphones and going out into nature.
:5 tips for shooting nature:
1: Pack as light as possible, The more you carry with you the less you will want to stop along the way. Digging through a camera bag for gear pieces can be a burden. If you’re packed light, mostly everything you need will be easy to find, allowing you to switch lenses quickly. After all, nature doesn’t wait for you to be ready.
2: WATER! OK this one I kinda suck with, I don’t ever drink enough water. I used to just keep a bottle of water in the trunk of the car when I went out, but this year I spent a few bucks on a nice water bottle that fits in the side of my camera backpack. Having the bottle of water (that stays cold) not only meant I could stay out longer and capture more. It allowed me to not feel like crap when I got to the car at the end of the walk. Simple enough right? But it gets overlooked more than you think.
3: KNIFE: While most people keep one as an EDC (every day carry…thanks Peter Mckinnon) Making sure you have one with you that is readily available on your person could save your life or someone else’s. During last years project I picked up one “Just encase” and I am glad I did. One of the first few days I was out shooting, I came across a little red eared slider turtle tangled in finish lines. It was a quick couple of snips and the little guys was free.
4: Timing is everything If you watch YouTube at all I’m sure you have heard this said a billion times. It rings so true that’s why. If you want to be able to capture most animals you have to be out when they are active. While no one wants to be awake at 3 am, and unless you live in upper Alaska/Canada or Iceland 3:00 am is still dark outside However, waking up at 3:00 am allows you time to wake up, get your coffee, and get to your location for shooting before sun rise. This gives you a chance for the best of both, when nocturnal animals are active and headed back in to go to bed, and diurnal animals will soon wake and emerge for the days activities. Although I read an article recently that stated most animals are turning nocturnal to avoid human interaction which is perfect for those that want to get the shot! During this project last year I went out to Burton wetlands at 430 am to make sure I was set up for the sunrise and I literally walked into a deer! (Bonus tip USE A HEADLAMP HA!)
5: DO IT While this sounds simple enough just getting up and going out is the biggest hurdle. Having self motivation is not an easy thing. No one wants to wake up early and go out of their way to do anything. But if this is something you love you just have to DO IT! You might not get a single usable shot. You might get eaten alive by bugs (BONUS TIP buy some OFF and remember to use it) but no matter what, you won’t get the shot if you are not there.
I will list the equipment used to create this series along with the locations used. I am not saying you need all of this stuff to take photos. This is just the gear we use.
‘The best camera is the one you have with you.’
- Nikon D850
- Nikon D600
- DJI Phantom 3
- DJI OSMO +
- Ronin S
- Sigma 150 – 600mm C
- Sigma 105mm Macro ART
- Sigma 50mm 2.8
- Tokina 16 – 28mm
- Wonderpana 145mm filter system
- Manfrotto 055 tripod
- FeelWorld 7in field monitor
- Manfrotto Backpack
- Think Tank Roller bag
- Cleveland metro parks zoo
- Cleveland Botanical gardens
- Rocky River reservation
- George Washington national forest
- Magee Marsh
- North Chagrin Nature center
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Hope you all enjoyed, Till next year remember to get out and shoot!