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Great Nature, Great Nature Project

Photography Tips and The Great Nature Project

by Deborah Cruz

I’m honored to be a part of the National Geographic Kids Beta Ambassador program. I am a National Geographic Kids Insider!  I am pretty excited, especially since I get to be a part of the Great Nature Project. I’ve got to tell you, I feel a little like an astronaut being one of the first and all. I’m thrilled to be a part of this amazing non-profit organization.

I’ve loved National Geographic since I was a kid and more importantly, my kids really love it and being associated with National Geographic Kids has made me a little bit cooler in their eyes. Ok, who am I kidding, it’s made me a lot cooler in their eyes.

My girls love the National Geographic books and magazines because they are interesting and the stunning photos have always caught their attention.

The photos are always astoundingly beautiful and capture not just a photo of an animal or a person but the moment and the feeling. The photos themselves tell stories. You’ve heard a photo is worth a thousand words? They truly are.

Great Nature, National Geographic

This September, as part of the National Geographic Society’s 125th Birthday celebration, they are hosing the Great Nature Project, an interactive photo project that lasts from September 21 through September 29, 2013. The goal is to encourage people to get outside and explore and celebrate the planet we live on and to care about the environment; to enjoy nature in all of its natural beauty and splendor.

Great Nature, National Geographic, #Animal #GReatNature

The Great Nature Project was designed to encourage people of all ages, and from countries all around the world, to stop and appreciate the nature that surrounds us everyday.

Great Nature, National Geographic, #Animal #GReatNature

To participate in the Great Nature Project simply take photos of the plants and animals around you with whatever camera you feel most comfortable shooting with. Then, share the pictures with the project through social media accounts. You can upload on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Flickr. I’ve been uploading to Instagram and sharing on Twitter and Facebook. Simply use the hashtags #GreatNature and #animal if your photo includes an animal. Through the use of the hashtag, National Geographic can collect the images and post them to their Great Nature Project website.

Great Nature, National Geographic, #Animal #GReatNature

National Geographic Kids is trying to set a Guinness World Record by curating the largest amount of animal photos on the internet by September 29th, 2013. That is this Sunday! We need YOUR help!

 Great Nature, National Geographic, #Animal #GReatNature

We need 100,000 photos of animals to set this record. So get your friends, family to send us animal pictures! We’re over half way there. We already have 60,000 photos of animals.

How to Participate!

1)Take a picture of an animal in nature—a butterfly, a squirrel, an ant, a horse, whatever your favorite animal is at the local zoo or even your pet outside. (The animal must be a major part of the photo, which must be at least 300 x 300 pixels.)
2) Grab a parent and upload your photos to NG Kids My Shot
3) Hashtag the photo #GreatNature and #animal.
4) Take more photos of animals! You can upload as many as you want, as long as they are all different. https://ow.ly/nt7Rf

I am not even going to lie. My family and I have been going on all kinds of nature walks around our neighborhood, snapping photos. It has been a great bonding time for all of us; walking and talking; getting exercise and being outdoors. The girls have been getting really excited finding the next animal or natural beauty to shoot. We’ve uploaded a lot. Just check out my Instagram for some examples.


If you are a little unsure of your skills, try some of these helpful tips for photographing animals that I picked up from a recent interview with National Geographic photographer Kelley Miller.

  • Be observant.
  • Anticipate and be prepared. Always have your exposure and shutter speed set before you approach the animal. You won’t have time to adjust once animal sees you.
  • Make eye contact and smile.
  • Look for Details. What captures your eye first? Snap
  • Make the animal stand out using a
    simple background or a shallow depth of field.
  • Include the animals habitat
  • According to Family Photographers on the island of Oahu, it’s important to give a sense of scale. Pay attention to graphic elements
  • Go for motion; panning. A slower shutter speed shows motion and action.
  • Get closer to the action.
  • Pursue personality.
  • Try different angles. Shoot off center, tilted or shoot from the top.
  • Be patient. Try to blend. Be quiet.
  • Practice your timing.
  • Best lighting; sunrise or the three hours before sunset. The sun is more subdued and has less contrast.

Great Nature, National Geographic, #ANimal, #GreatNature

Go for it. If your child has a camera and shows an interest, encourage them to shoot what they feel is beautiful in nature. You might be surprised. My daughters have a great eye for angles and lighting, especially my 6-year-old. Snap a photo yourself of a plant or animal in your neighborhood, and upload it to a photo sharing site like Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, or National Geographic Your Shot, making sure to tag it #GreatNature. To participate in the record, add #animal to any animal photo.

Great Nature, National Geographic, #ANimal, #GreatNature

My own birthday was on the 25th and as a personal birthday wish; I would love to see us break this record. So come one, show me your photos tag them #Animal #GreatNature and if you tag me in them @Truthfulmommy, I will share them. We can do this!

Great Nature, National Geographic, #ANimal, #GreatNature

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