Course Content
A pre-lesson to help prepare you for Lesson 1.
Lesson 1: Getting Started
Collect the photography gear that you'll need for the course
Lesson 2: The Workings of a Camera (Technical Lesson 1)
In this lesson, we'll discuss how a camera works - including digital cameras!
Lesson 3: Background vs. Foreground (Composition 1)
In this lesson, we will look at the three basic elements of every photograph - the foreground, the background, and the subject.
Lesson 4: Light (Technical Lesson 2)
Everything in a photograph is based on light. In this lesson, we will study light and how to use it to your advantage while taking pictures.
Lesson 5: Tell a Story (Composition 2)
In this lesson, we will discuss how to compose pictures in such a way as to draw viewers into the photo via the story it tells.
Lesson 6: The Direction of Light (Technical Lesson 3)
In this lesson, we will look at how the direction of light affects our photographs - and why this is important.
Wilderness Photography 101
About Lesson
Bikers on the Genesee Valley Greenway, Filmore, New York
There are any number of stories this photo could tell. You don’t have to know that it’s a father and adult daughter to feel the comradery, know they’re enjoying the outdoors, and understand that they live in the outdoors of the modern world.  Genesee Valley Greenway, New York

Before you push the shutter, every photographer should ask themselves this question: What story am I trying to tell with this photo?

A story can be simple or complex, touching or disturbing, fictional or real, or anything that the photographer is trying to convey.  Everything about the photograph should work toward telling that story.  Anything that does not help with the narrative of the photograph should be eliminated from the picture (if at all possible).

John Cyty's Spring and Cabin, Death Valley National Park, California
This photo comes very close to breaking the “one subject” rule. It also tells a powerful story of water in the desert and the history of mining in Death Valley National Park.

Examples of stories might be conveying culture or history, making a viewer feel a particular way, creating a mood, or showing the feeling of a place or a moment in time (such as a cold, winter street).


As I’ve talked about before, there should be one – and only one – subject in most photographs.  The subject is usually the focal point of the picture and the one part that tells the most story.  However, the foreground, background, and supporting elements will help or hinder your story.


The San Rafael Swell from the Hans Flat Road, Utah
What story do you see in this photo? By framing the view with the window of the van and the driver’s face, I gave context to the desert landscape. San Rafael Swell, Utah

As you compose your picture, think about the story you’re trying to tell.  What does the place feel like?  Are there textures in the foreground or background that help or hinder that feeling?  (For example, it’s hard to have a peaceful picture with a stormy sky.)  Are the colors bright or muted?  Is the light strong or diffused?