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
Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Morning reflections – note how the sun, while bright, is not harsh on the peaks around Leigh Lake in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Even when there is enough light for a good photograph, you will want to consider the strength of the light.  Is it harsh and strong, like a sunny day, washing out the colors and creating deep shadows?  Is it softer, like through haze or in a partial shadow or under clouds or in the morning or evening when the shadows are not as harsh?

Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
(Nearly) The same view at noon.  

When considering the strength of the light, you want to look at how it will affect your photograph.  Strong light (which creates deep, harsh shadows) can be very artistic, but many photographers prefer the softer, more angled-sun effect of morning and evening (which can create deep – but not so harsh – shadows).  This time of day – known as Golden Hour (the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset) – often has a “golden” tint to the light and offers endless opportunities for composing pictures.


A wall at Pueblo del Arroyo, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico
Visiting Pueblo del Arroyo in the early morning, the light was not as harsh as it would have been at midday. Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico

Some photographers will use “filtered light” techniques to tone down the harshness of light (especially sunshine) and give the light a softer feel.  They will hold a semi-transparent object (for example, a sheet of thin paper or a lightweight fabric) to shadow their subject (for example, a flower). The light filtering through the paper or fabric will be softer than, for example, the harsh noontime sun.