2014 Challenge, Week 23 Nature & Wildlife – GROUND

We tend to ignore the ground we walk on when in nature. During a camping trip in Idyllwild, I was fascinated as my eldest son cried out, “Look Daddy a Scorpion!” I looked and looked but could not see anything but sand. Taking in the fact that he was a third of my height and his young eyes worked better than his aging father’s eyes, I got down on my knees. It was a small scorpion barely a few grains of sand long. From that point on I always keep my eyes open and a little closer to the ground

Yellow Microdot by Derrell Licht - https://flic.kr/p/9HgJdf

I don’t have an image of that specific scorpion but it looked something like this image above by Derrell Licht. For this challenge I’m not asking you to go find the most minute critter in the dirt and photograph it. I want you to capture the natural ground covering of a natural habitat such as a forest, desert, rain-forest, etc… Let’s make it 100% natural. This would exclude man made, such as your typical lawn or botanical flowers. It can be a close-up of vegetation, bugs, reptiles and other small ground dwelling animals in their Habitat.  It can also be a wider landscape type capture displaying texture and composition of a large and uniform terrain. As long as we get a good feel for what the ground is made of in your image. Don’t be afraid to apply all of the technical skills practiced in past challenges by Jeremy.

Fall Foliage on the Ground - by Billy Wilson

This autumn foliage covering the ground is a good example of what our friends in the Southern Hemisphere may be experiencing, if not snow. Here Billy used a very narrow depth of field to isolate the leaves on the ground.

Ripples in the Sand by Pedro Szekely

The desert sand offers little color. However the usually large areas covered by deserts and dunes give us the opportunity to photograph ongoing textures created by a natural phenomena such as wind.

the dry season

The ground can differ largely during a drought or a dry season as in the example above. The cracks and grooves with the sparse vegetation offers a unique perspective of what our world can look like when water makes itself scarce.

magic forest - Zauberwald

In contrast to deserts and arid landscapes, this plush green forest is entirely covered by a green moss. So much so that it’s even climbing up the base of the trees. Although this looks great as a large plan, you can get in closer as in the image below.

Steve Troletti Photography: Mushrooms and Fungus / Champignons &emdash; Mushroom / Champignon

Moss in itself comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are in effect small forests that are home to a multitude of living creatures. You can find small insects, amphibians and other vegetation such as this tiny little mushroom.

A new Pine forest grows

 Pine forests are often bare of other vegetation. The ground is usually covered in pine needles and pine cones preventing other vegetation from penetrating the ground. Somehow little pine trees find a way to grow through all of those needles and reach the sunshine.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Northern Cardinal / Cardinal Rouge

If you’re patient enough you can even catch a bird or two on the ground scavenging for food. Many species of birds scan the forest floor for seeds and nutritious bugs and worms.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Spider Carrying Egg Sac

Keep an eye on the ground as you never know what you may step on as you trek through nature. This little spider carrying a sac full of eggs crossed my path right in front of my feet.

  • Remember to respect nature and not to disturb any animals or destroy their habitat in any way during your quest for the perfect image. 
  • Also take time to familiarize yourself with local wildlife and plants. Some animals can present a danger, especially if protecting their young. Spiders and Snakes, especially hard to see baby snakes can present a great danger due to their venom. It’s always better to keep a safe distance from any animal no matter how sweet and innocent they may seem. 
  • Get acquainted with plants like Poisson Oak and Poisson Ivy or any other dangerous plants in your area. Some plants not only represent a risk of skin irritation but can also kill you if touched or ingested. Learn to identify the dangerous plants in your area.
  • If you’re in mosquito and tick country don’t forget your bug spray. 

You can choose to photograph low to the ground or higher up to capture details over a large area. A tripod may be a good thing to bring along in wooded areas as light can often be at a minimum in a forest.

The sky’s the limit for this week’s challenge. Get out there and show us what Mother Nature has to offer.

As this is Nature and wildlife, try to keep human objects such as houses, bridges and fences out of your images as much as possible. There’s often a way to compose an image to give the illusion of complete nature without using Photoshop.

To fully take advantage of the sunlight, early mornings and late afternoons will provide a lower angle and softer light to work with.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.


About Steve Troletti

I'm a Location Scout, Editorial, Nature, Wildlife and Environmental Photographer based in Malibu, California. I specialize in Nature and Urban Nature photography including Infrared Landscapes. The Bulk of my work takes place in the Los Angeles, California area, Greater Montreal Region, Canada, Switzerland, France and Varese in Northern Italy. Ethical wildlife photography is the main priority and focus of my work. A minimum disturbance of the animals, their habitat and the environment is my top priority. This applies as much to total wilderness areas as it does to urban nature environments. Ongoing education of environmental issues and building awareness for the protection of wildlife and wilderness areas around the world is what drives me to document the beauty that surrounds us.