Mt Cuba Center
Mt Cuba Center
Back to News Updates – September 10, 2021


Get Started with Nature Photography

Dramatic photos of the natural world are a joy to behold and an inspiration to all. A photo can transport the viewer to never before seen landscapes or show an up close and personal view of wildlife and plants. Filled with color, textures, shapes, and interesting objects, nature is a one of the most popular subjects to capture. And since nature is everywhere, this form of photography is for everyone!

Armed with the right tools and some helpful tips, professional wildlife photographer David Greaves, can teach attendees at his upcoming class how to work with light and composition. Following the lecture, venture out into the Gardens to capture your best “shot.” Read to find out more about David and our upcoming class, Nature Photography for Beginners, which takes place on September 24 and March 19.

Professional nature photographer, David Greaves, in the woods in winter time with his camera taking a picture.

David Greaves is a biologist at the EPA, wildlife photographer, and founder of the Nature Under Your Nose (NUYN) brand. His love for nature and the outdoors was discovered while growing up in the Washington, D.C. area. He uses his photography and his NUYN brand to encourage people of all ages, colors, and backgrounds to explore and enjoy the nature they can find all around them.

Mt. Cuba Center: Growing up around Washington D.C. nurtured your love for the environment and nature. Can you tell us a little about what sparked your interest and how your love for photography began?

David Greaves:  My interest in nature began at an early age. My parents would take me and my siblings to the library to check out books to read. The bulk of the books that I would check out would be nature books, wildlife encyclopedias, and other wildlife guides. I also loved any nature documentary or show that I could find on television. I also spent a lot of time outside hunting for insects, reptiles, amphibians, and many other types of wildlife I could observe.

My love of photography came later in life around 2016. I was a freelance videographer on the side for some time and grew tired of filming events. I grabbed my camera equipment one day and went to a local wildlife refuge and began filming. I found it to be very therapeutic and calming. After speaking to a friend who is a professional photographer who suggested I tried still photography, I went out one day with just a DSLR and a zoom lens and fell in love with it.

Mt. Cuba Center: Among your talents as a photographer, you are a biologist with the Environmental Protection Agency. What’s your favorite thing to study/research? Do you find that this is also your favorite thing to photograph?

David Greaves: In my career at the EPA, I currently manage the cleanup of hazardous waste sites (aka Superfund Sites). The thing I love about my job is that I get paid to protect the places I love to play in in my free time. The goal for many of our cleanups is to restore these sites to beneficial uses for the communities and the environment. A number of our sites double as habitats for birds and other wildlife. It’s a joy for me to inspect one of our cleaned up landfills and see herons, hear bullfrogs, and watch butterflies inhabiting the wetland established as part of the cleanup.

There have been so many times that I’ve been at a site and have seen or heard some of my favorite animals to photograph. From raptors, newts, songbirds, or woodpeckers, I’ve seen quite a few of my favorites out in the field.

Mt. Cuba Center: You founded Nature Under Your Nose which is an initiative to reconnect minorities and people of color to nature on a local and global scale. How did this project come about and how can others get involved?

David Greaves: The Nature Under Your Nose brand/initiative was inspired by my childhood exploring the outdoors and some of my experiences as an adult. I feel as though some children really miss out on the joys of playing outside, exploring the woods, and experiencing the joy that observing wildlife can bring. From what I’ve seen this seems to be the case in communities of color especially. When I began my journey into wildlife photography, I started shooting in my backyard here in DE, my childhood home in Prince George’s County, MD, and the many local parks and wildlife refuges up and down the East Coast.

There are so amazing things to see all around us that we just don’t see or just aren’t looking for.  But it’s right under our noses. I use my photography to show people of color that there are people that look like them that love the outdoors, love nature, and that you don’t have to travel far to see something beautiful. I use my Instagram page @natureunderyournose to share my images, video clips, and stories to expose my followers to great finds locally in my area as well when I’m traveling. You can find nature any time and any place if you’re open to seeing it.

Professional nature photographer, David Greaves, taking photos in kayak on lake.

Mt. Cuba Center: Can you share a memorable experience you were able to capture or a photo you are particularly proud of.

David Greaves: One of most memorable experiences in nature photography was driving up to New Salem, NY to visit a wolf conservation program where they raise wolves to reintroduce them into the wild. I was looking for a safe way to get photos of wolves and a friend informed me about this great program in upstate NY. They had a photography tour that I was able to participate in and was able to obtain some of my favorite photos to date. The other memorable aspect of this trip was being able to take my childhood friend that I’ve known since the 8th grade with me who had no discernible interest in animals prior to this trip and he had an amazing time. It really sparked his interest in nature after that experience.

Mt. Cuba Center: This class is for beginners, but all skill levels can benefit from your expertise. What is the biggest take away for students from this class?

David Greaves: The biggest takeaway that I would like students to understand is that the cameras, tripods, and lenses are just tools and (in my opinion) are really not the most important aspect of nature photography. Developing your eye to see your subjects, your ear to hear your subjects, and your own tricks to safely approach your subjects to even get a decent shot is more the battle than anything else. I have a few fun exercises we will do in class that will help students develop these skills.

Register below to join us for Nature Photography for Beginners with David Greaves.

September 24 from 10 am-12 pm
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March 19 from 10 am-12 pm
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