We are currently living in an increasingly busy and technology dependent world, where for many of us, our days are spent looking at screens in an enclosed space. In our major cities the current generations people have become so disjointed from the natural world that when they do experience even simple things like tall grass or the musty smell of woodland, they react like it’s an alien thing.
Mental issues are becoming increasing prevalent amongst children and adults alike due to the ever-present notifications of “social” media. People just don’t have the means to just “shut-off” from their lives or the lives of others.
One way to get in touch with the natural world is to capture what is found in it by photography. In order to photograph landscapes and nature you need to be in it, and you will find that you experience the outdoors in all it’s wonder and beauty as a by-product of doing that activity. You will find yourself thinking about the other things less and less as your eyes open and your mind clears. Photography isn’t a difficult thing to start doing as you aren’t expected to be great at it from the start and you don’t need to ask for permission or help from other people. You can just journey to a secluded or isolated area with woodland, grasslands, upland and coastal areas and start photographing what you find.
Outdoor photography can be used as a means to promote creativity in people from all walks of life and skill level. You don’t need to be an expert in photographic composition to capture a fantastic image that you can show others! By going out into the wild spaces you will start to see the world differently! You will notice the intense blue of the sky against that green of the trees, there is moss growing on that rock! – there is more than one species of moss growing on that rock! You will see things you never knew was right with you and go to places you never knew existed. The fresh air and sunlit vistas might clear your mind enough to inspire your next big thing as the act of putting one foot in front of another aids a wondering mind.
As to what equipment to use then that is up to you as there are cameras available to suit every interest level. For beginners just the camera that comes with smartphones is adequate for most basic landscape shots and beyond that, entry-level dedicated compact models will produce impressive results.
By the act of exploring the environment you are doing a lot of hiking, moving from one photo to another. So you might not realise that you are doing a physically demanding activity whilst doing something you like. This sustained and extended exertion is of benefit to your physical health. You are sometimes hiking for miles in one day and for some instances you might be outside for multiple days! This is all good for your health and people sometimes find that exploring the natural world has reversed existing health problems. Just the stress reducing effects of a wander through green, open spaces is enough to promote healing and improvement.
Another benefit that immersing yourself in the natural world is the increase in your overall mood and emotional state of well-being. Being in the peaceful surrounding of a woodland, listening to the wind blowing through the trees and the calls of birds as they do their own thing is a calming experience. This calming experience can have a profound effect on people that experience frequent stress and anxiety in their daily lifestyles.
It is with these calming situations it can be said that just by being there can help to improve and treat people suffering from mental heath problems. Many people live in an urban environment and would have to travel miles to leave the concrete sprawl, but even just seeing wide open spaces such as fields and walking in small patches of woodland or moorland would give you a break.
When you immerse yourself in nature you will find that you become more aware of yourself and all the other things around you. You will feel the passage of the seasons more keenly and will notice all the changes that happen to both plant and animal life almost with each passing week of the year. Photographic opportunities do arise at different times and you will learn where to be at a particular time and have an idea already of what you might find or witness.
With our increasingly virtual lives where we only interact with others with brief written messages through a little screen, experiencing the world yourself will teach you to live in the moment again
Getting out and about and experiencing the outdoors with photography could open up other outdoor interests and activities. So other than walking and hiking, you could find yourself interacting with people with interests in camping and the bush-craft community. You may even find yourself attracted to participate in local wildlife conservation efforts. All of these things are good as it helps to combat any feeling of social isolation you might have gained before hand, and you will gain a lot of new friends that share your interests.
So make landscape photography one of your new hobbies and don’t forget to look at the world through your eyes and not just through a glass lens!