Nature photography for city dwellers - yes, you can!

There has been much debate amongst dpreview users about an issue that is relevant to most of us: whether or not you need to live in a stunning environment to take decent nature photos. I have read many comments to the tune of "OK, it's easy for you because this fantastic coastline is right at your back door." Let me make some arguments against that claim and illustrate my point with some of my photos. (I'm not saying those are the greatest nature photos, but I do think they help make my point.)

I am a hobby photographer living in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. I'm not very interested in taking pictures of the admittedly nice architecture of the city; I'm more of a landscape and macro guy. I have a freelance job and a family to support, so the time and budget that I can allocate to my hobby are limited. While I have driven my car extensively across Hungary in search of photo locations, nowadays I prefer to stay within a 60-km radius of my home.

Finding an interesting or beautiful nature photo opportunity around or even inside a city does require a car and some time for discovery, but I think that a person who can afford a DSLR and a few less expensive lenses is likely to have the means to own and use a car.

Local online photo communities and Google Maps can be extremely helpful in identifying photo opportunities.

I took most of the following photos within 30 km of my home, and it's only for the last that I drove two hours (to escape from light pollution - see below).

If you like these shots, feel free to browse my shamefully unsorted online gallery at:

http://www.pbase.com/laja30/inbox

Five-minute drive from home. Poppies grow everywhere in late May and early June. Just find the right composition and light conditions.
15-minute drive from home, at a fishing lake. You can take macro shots almost anywhere.
30-minute drive from home, at a village near Budapest. Fog is a landscape photographer's best friend.
30-minute drive from home: another fishing lake.
30-minute drive from home: just find a forest.
10-minute drive from home: this poppy field is right next to a not-quite picturesque food store and high-rise apartment buildings.
And finally, the photo for which I traveled (a still acceptable)150 km in order to get away from heavy light pollution.

At the location of the photo above, I have also shot more than 900 pictures for a simple one-minute time-lapse movie. Just another idea for you. Watch it in 720p HD on vimeo.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.

Comments

Total comments: 7
Shankaran R
By Shankaran R (7 months ago)

Thank you for these amazing pictures and tips.

0 upvotes
Lajos Hajdu
By Lajos Hajdu (8 months ago)

Thank you, Olgierd. The last photo (the ruined building under the Mily Way) was taken with a Tokina 11-16 mm lens. 30 sec exposure, f2.8, ISO 3200, manual focus, and of course careful RAW processing. I lit the foreground by swinging a LED light for a few seconds.

0 upvotes
Olgierd
By Olgierd (8 months ago)

These are spectacular! Love the water and amount of detail in the macro shot.

Would you care to share your technique for the last photo (one with starry sky)?

Once again fantastic work.

Cheers!

0 upvotes
Lajos Hajdu
By Lajos Hajdu (8 months ago)

One more thing: the light on the horizon is light pollution, not - as many believe - the setting sun.

0 upvotes
Dale Garman
By Dale Garman (8 months ago)

Thanks for the article love the foggy forests.

0 upvotes
Lajos Hajdu
By Lajos Hajdu (10 months ago)

Thank you, Simon. Unfortunately no-one seems to read these user-created articles...

Comment edited 53 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Simon Devlin
By Simon Devlin (10 months ago)

These are brilliant!

1 upvote
Total comments: 7