A Lesson in Nature Photography with Matt Brashears

Learn Tips, Tricks, and insights from a Pro

Ever wonder what it takes to snap amazing photos in nature? Well, here’s your chance to learn from a pro using the tools you already have; your smartphone!

We all know that feeling of pure bliss and enlightenment brought to us by the intoxicating bounty of nature. She’s an elusive muse whose beauty is impossible to fully capture. Mother nature has a way of hiding her true essence from a camera lens. Even the most phenomenal moments captured on film are dull in comparison to the actual wonder of it all. Every once in a while you might get lucky with a picture you snapped on a mountain lookout or when the sun is reflecting off the water in the perfect way, but without an understanding of how to take good pictures, you will always be chasing that perfect picture. 

Matt Brashears is here to help. He loves nature and photography. He has spent years getting to know his camera and his iPhone as a tool to capture nature in its truest form, and this Sunday, June 12th, he’s going to share his tips with you!

Here in Washington State, we are surrounded by the world of nature. We are lucky to be home to 3 national parks, 124 state parks, and an endless amount of city parks and wildlife areas that include 19 marine life parks and 11 historical parks. For those of us who love the great outdoors, it doesn’t get much better. 

Explore with your IPhone

With our phones handy at any given moment you can snap a quick picture anywhere. As our phones advance, great photography isn’t just for the pros anymore. Matt is going to arm you with a few simple tips and techniques so you can easily snap beautiful photographs of wildlife and landscapes.

Cougar Mountain will be our setting for this photography lesson. A place close to Matt’s heart. He found solace in this regional park during COVID. Turning an incredibly hard time into one of the happiest years of his life. He vowed to hike as much as possible while figuring out the new norm that would last 18 months. He ended up hiking 1,500 miles, all on the trails of Cougar Mountain. He knows every inch of it and has seen it in every season. 

Not only did he use this time to keep a healthy mind and body, but he also witnessed and came to know the local wildlife. Including bears (and cubs). He even recalls a meeting with the same snail twice! He has photos of the shell markings in 2 photos of the snail taken a year apart. He came to know the owls and they allowed him close access to their personal space. He jokes about becoming so in tune with this mountain that he actually smelled a deer before seeing her. 

Matt says… 

“To me, nature photography is a celebration of nature, an attempt to capture and preserve a sliver of the joy it brings.”

He reflects how the happiest periods in his life correspond to the times he’s lived in daily contact with nature. Memories of nature flow all the way back to his childhood. 

What to expect

This 4-mile hike with Matt will be easily accessible and fairly easy to moderate. As with all Breathe in Nature events, we will begin with some breathing. Guiding your senses into the surrounding trees. We’ve located the perfect grove of cedars to sit beneath just off the trail’s edge so we won’t be disturbed. For about 15-20 minutes you will do guided breathwork that allows you to close out the world of responsibility and expectation and open up to the beauty of the moment.

Returning to the trail, all you will need is your smartphone (or an actual camera if you choose). Matt will talk about personal perspective and framing. Being clear on these two things will give you the most control over the quality of your photos. He will give a lesson on both. 

You will be challenged to identify your vantage point. 

  • Will you lie down? 
  • shooting straight up? 
  • straight down? 

You will be asked about framing 

  • What do you wish to include in the shot?
  • What are you leaving out?
  • What is your focus?
  • What is the best placement of the main focus?

Matt has a great one-pager of Photo Challenges that he uses when teaching photography at the Renton Community Center. It’s like a scavenger hunt for photos designed to help you think about options and make the right choice for your desired outcome.

Breathe, Photo, and Hike

During our time together you will awaken your senses to the natural world around you, and capture amazing photos while enjoying this hidden gem located in the Newcastle area. 

You can check out this hike and the remaining hikes at Breathe in Nature.