The season has changed and Spring is upon us. It’s time to think about new growth and renewed life. It’s also a great time to think about getting outdoors and growing some new skills. There is nothing like a bright sunny day, with flowers blooming and birds chirping, to encourage us to grab a camera and get out into nature.

If you haven’t discovered it yet, shooting outdoors shows you that your camera actually performs better with natural light. Even that inexpensive camera you haven’t used in years will give you better images in sunlight. This is the perfect way to learn what all of your camera settings do. How’s the ISO? How does fps affect your shooting? What’s the difference between those automatic presets? Can I use manual controls to make it better? Professional photographers use a log boom or app to list camera settings for each shot. This is a great tool for video too.

Getting outdoors is also a great way to learn your lenses. Out in nature, you’ll find something that won’t move much like a tree or a rock formation. Again, adjust your aperture settings and notice how that changes everything else. What does it take to get that really deep separation between foreground and background? Can your camera get that bokeh you want? Switch up your lenses, if you have them, and notice how a lens changes the background and even the color.

Speaking of color, some great outdoor footage is exactly what you need to improve your editing or color-grading skills. Specifically, shoot in RAW and working with the color tools. This is one of the best ways to get great images By the way, editing doesn’t have to be an indoor, sedentary activity, either. You can take your laptop or get one of those great apps for your tablet like LumaFusion or Adobe Premiere Rush. Imagine how great it would be editing at a bench surrounded by trees.

Of course, we can’t forget sound. The sounds of nature also ramp up with the season. Ice melts and streams start flowing. Birds return to their homes and start singing. In the dead of night, crickets chirp and wolves teach their young to howl. Spring is a symphony. You don’t have to have a specialized sound recorder. Just plug a microphone into your camera and press record.

If those weren’t enough reasons to get out and get going, a recent Wall Street Journal article cited a medical study that states being outside improves your health. The story indicated spending just 2 hours outside a week could be the new 10,000 steps in terms of health and wellness. So, do something to improve your skills and your life — go outside.

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